I have a few new recipes to share. I had a fun idea for Fitness Friday. Yet, today, there is only one thing I can write about. The thing that happened 7 years ago that changed everything in my life.
My mom was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer with a solitary brain met 7 years ago today. With a diagnosis like that, the doctors weren’t hopeful she’d experience long term, or even short term survival. No cure and palliative treatment were phrases thrown around by doctors who didn’t seem to have an awareness of the effect words like that have on scared family members.
The life expectancy for a person with my mom’s diagnosis is 8 months. The 5 year survival rate for stage IV lung cancer patients is between 5-10 percent.
Yet here she is, 7 years later.
Actually, this picture is from 6 years later as it’s from last summer. Note to self: take more pictures!
Beating cancer didn’t come without a price, however. Her treatments included brain surgery, lung surgery, whole brain radiation, and chemotherapy, one right after the other. These treatments, particularly the whole brain radiation, have had significant long-term side effects.
Immediately after the treatment, my mom was concerned that her hair didn’t grow back completely. It turns out that would be the least of her worries. Her balance slowly started to deteriorate after the end of her treatment. For at least the last three years she’s not been able to drive. Each year she loses more mobility. Today she is only able to walk slowly with the help of a walker. Everyday tasks are difficult and she needs my dad to help with basic care–things a 62 year old woman should not need help with. Her short-term memory and cognitive tasks have been greatly affected, as well.
Yet, despite all of this, there are two things my mom has never lost: faith and hope.
She has hard days. Yes, she can feel sorry for herself sometimes. Yet, I’ve never, not once, heard her question God. Her faith in Him is rock solid. Even though she has trouble with focus and concentration, she continues to participate in Bible studies. Praise for Him is always on her lips and she doesn’t think God is any less good because of what’s happened to her. She knows that suffering is part of being human and God’s love is constant despite our hardships.
She’s also never lost her hope. She believes there is a way to improve her condition and that we just need to find it. I believe that, too. I pray for nothing less than complete healing of her mind and body so she can experience the life she deserves as a wife, mom, and grandmother.
What do we have if we don’t have this faith and hope in our life? My mom’s survival story isn’t exactly the way I pictured it. It’s not perfect. But she’s here! She’s alive! Her faith and hope are alive, too. And so are mine.
Three years ago, I wrote the story about my mom’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. Read it here if you are interested.