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Dealing with Cancer
As you can see in the title I’m talking about cancer. You always hear stories about it but you never realize how hard it is until it actually affects you. Everyone tends to flip out at the thought of cancer and I guarantee my family did but you can make it through no matter how hard it gets.
I didn’t have cancer. My mom did. She still does. But we have made it through the worse and it hardly affects her or me or my dad for that matter anymore. Now let’s back up…
It was a normal summer day. Or at least it started that way. My mom and I had gone to my grandparents and she went to get a MRI done since the insurance deductable had been met and she had been having vocal seizures for about three years. These seizures made it so she could not talk for maybe five to ten minutes at a time. As time progressed they became more and more frequent.
I went to the water park for a fun day and thought nothing of it. I came back to my grandparents when I was told and walked through the door to see my mom in tears talking to my grandma and grandpa. I knew something was wrong. Mom called me into the room and had me sit down. “Scout, I have a brain tumor…” I had an instant wave of fear and emotion hit me like a train. The realization of the change that was just going to take place just overtook me and I broke down. “The doctors also said I have only three years to live. Supposedly the tumor has been there since before you were born. They diagnosed it as a stage four astrocytoma but can’t do surgery because it’s basically embedded into my left temporal lobe.”
More emotions started to flood as more realizations came too. I might not have a mom after this. The woman I have lived with my whole life both alone and later with my stepdad and brother could be gone forever. How would I ever live? How could I go through life without the support of my mom there? She wouldn’t see me graduate from college and make my dreams come true.
I started to question God about how he could even consider taking my mom away from me after having her there for every step of the way throughout my life journey. It didn’t seem fair. How would I make it through the rest of my messed up life without my mom to fix the messed up parts? I got depressed and was often sad. I locked myself in my room and lay on the bed staring at the ceiling thinking about living without a mom. I actually thought about running away to get away from it all. Suicidal thoughts ran through my head also because I just wanted to free myself from the pain of not living with a mom and to save my dad the trouble of caring for two children off of one source of income.
The week of the diagnosis my mom had an MRI on Monday and an appointment with the neurologist. He got her another MRI on Wednesday and an appointment with a neurosurgeon, who then got her another MRI on Saturday and a biopsy on Monday of the next week. All of the appointments normally take about six weeks each to get and she had them all within one week.
My mom started radiation therapy about nine months after the diagnosis because of the fact that the tumor continued to grow. This required that she stay in Denver with my grandmother five days a week for seven weeks and go in everyday for about an hour and sit
under a machine that applied radiation to the tumor in order to shrink it. For five of the seven weeks the radiation dose was normal and the last two weeks it was increased.
At the same time she also started on a pill form of chemotherapy she took for two years and it cost over $9,000 for 42 days. At the time we had to pay upfront for the medication and were then reimbursed for it by the insurance company making it difficult to figure out how to pay for it until the reimbursement.
In the two years she took the chemo and had the radiation we watched the tumor closely and she still goes in regularly for checkups. The tumor itself has shrunk from about the size of a baseball to the size of golf ball. She lost most of the hair on the left side of her head from both the chemotherapy and the radiation. But it has grown back now.
My mom’s still alive. Five years after a diagnosis of three years to live. Five years after an estimated three months before she couldn’t drive or work or care for her kids and husband. My mom is one of the three percent of people that survive from the type and intensity of tumor she had. My Mom stands as a survivor of one of the greatest obstacles the devil can throw at somebody and I’m proud of her for sticking to it and never giving up.
Me? Yeah I’m ok now. I haven’t had a suicidal thought since the nights of lying on my bed locked in my room of that first year. I haven’t wanted to run away since then either. I have a wonderful girlfriend and go to the best school ever where I have friends who support me the best they can. I love my mom and wouldn’t want to miss one minute I can spend with her.
We survived. Together.