Friday, April 06, 2007

a happy anniversary of a sad occasion

Sunday will mark the 1o-year anniversary of my mom's mastectomy. It seems fitting that it is Easter Sunday, a day of renewed life and hope and joy.

In early 1997, my mom found a lump in her left breast. Unfortunately, due to the fact that she would soon be transitioning from my dad's COBRA policy (which she'd been on since my parents' divorce) to a policy at her new job, there was going to be a roughly three-week gap in her insurance coverage.

She knew that if she brought the lump to her doctor's attention during that time or before her new insurance kicked in, there was a possibility they wouldn't cover treatments if it did turn out to be cancer.

So she waited for two months, all the while knowing in her heart that she had breast cancer.

When she finally told her doctor, he acted very quickly, scheduling a mastectomy within a month of her initial visit, about three weeks after the biopsy results.

My sister was living with my dad and his new wife (my stepmom Sandy) at the time, so it was just my mom and me at home to deal with this. That's part of why we've always been close; we were thrown together during one of the hardest times of our lives, left with only each other to lean on.

I remember the day of the surgery. Lots of people came to the hospital to wait with me. (Strangely, I can't remember whether or not my sister was there.) Friends from church, a couple of pastors, the mom of one of my good friends.

Thankfully, after a summer of extremely intense and difficult chemotherapy treatments, a breast reconstruction surgery, and several years of Tamoxifin, my mom is still cancer-free after 10 years.

I can't even describe how thankful I am that she is still cancer-free. In fact, thankful hardly seems like a strong enough word. I am grateful from the depths of my being. It is a huge, huge blessing, and I am so glad she is still here and still healthy.

Happy 10-Year Cancer-Free Anniversary, Mama!


Anonymous said...

YES, give your mom and extra hug for me. My mom will be cancer-free for 12 years this November.

It's maddening your mom had to wait until she was covered to seek treatment so that she didn't put your family in eternal debt. Ridiculous.

Thank goodness she's healthy now. :) Lovely post about a difficult time.

sandra said...

my aunt just had surgery this friday to remove her cancer ridden shoulder and arm. your uplifting post couldn't have come at a more perfect time. thank you!

Isabel said...

Hooray that the cancer is still gone.

And I'm with makes me crazy.

My MIL just finished up her radiation teatments for breast cancer a few weeks ago. Here's hoping it will stay away forever.

C said...

Congratulations to your mom for being cancer free for 10 years!

rebecca said...

Congrats to your mommy, Kathleen! :) Definitely a time to cel-e-brate!!! Mom finds out soonish if her latest bone marrow biopsy is as "zero" as the last one. Then she'll be "cancer free" for 3 months now, I think? Maybe 4? So we can celebrate and honor our mommies together!

Next time you're down there, you'll have to stop by!!

Miss you chica!!