A month ago, mom noticed a lymph node in her groin that was inflamed. She said she was headed to the lab to get a biopsy. I was headed to work for a 12 hour shift and didn't have time to think about it. Unfortunately, I got a call several hours later that mom had Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Two weeks ago, mom had a PET scan, an MRI, and a bone marrow biopsy. For two weeks, I couldn't think about anything else but the results of those tests.
Today, I found out mom has Stage IV B-Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Stage IV. Wow. How could such a healthy, young, gorgeous woman have Stage IV anything?? The cancer has spread to all of her lymph nodes, her spleen, and her bone marrow. Wow.
|I dare you to guess her age|
And, yet, I find myself thankful for the diagnosis. Because my mom has taken such good care of herself and looks so young (how many times have we been asked if we are sisters??), I took for granted the fact that she would live to be 100. If anything, my mom looks healthier and younger than she did 20 years ago. So, this wake-up call has been a blessing in some ways.
After all, how many of us really stop to tell each other how much we appreciate them? How the fact that they taught Girl Scouts in 1983 still means so much 30 years later? How seeing them snuggle with your children means more than the world?
|Mimi "scratching" Haley's back with a brush|
The word ironic continues to pop in my head. It's ironic that my mom's dad, Grandpa Walt, lived to be 79 after a lifetime of smoking, drinking, swearing, and bacon-grease loving. My mom, who NEVER smokes, hardly EVER drinks, NEVER swears, and ALWAYS throws out her bacon grease, is 61. A cancer diagnosis is quite ironic.
It's also ironic that if there is any stage IV cancer you want to be sentenced with, non-Hodgkins lymphoma might just be the one you would pick. It seems to be just like any other chronic disease you live with. You get a few rounds of chemotherapy every few months, and then go on with your life. And, the chemo used is an antibody that attacks only the cancer cells. Losing your hair, throwing up your toenails, and spending days in bed are highly unlikely.
And, I find it ironic that cancer has stricken our family at all. Sure, my dad had some kind of malignant skin cancer removed. And, Grandpa Walt underwent radiation for his prostate cancer. But, all in all, my entire family has dodged the cancer bullet. We could only avoid it for so long I guess. Alzheimer's disease has run rampant in my family tree. Other than that, we've been a fairly heathy bunch. Until now.
Two weeks from now, mom will start chemo. I'm guessing waiting on test results will be the story of our lives from now on. In the meantime, I'll be praying for healing and reminding loved ones how much they mean to me.