There are so many days in our lives that make an impact, that change us, some good, some bad. The day you get married, the day a child is born, the day someone tells you that your 57 year old mother has stage 4 lung cancer. September 2, 2008 changed our lives forever. Over Labor Day weekend, my mom thought that she had pulled a muscle, because her side was hurting so bad. She wasn’t one to complain, so I knew it must have been bad for her to go to the walk in clinic. That trip to the urgent care center, turned into a trip to the emergency room, which turned into a week in the hospital. My mother, my best friend had stage 4 lung cancer with mets to the lymph nodes and to her rib. My world would be forever changed.
I remember being sad, scared, angry. Why her, why us? My dad had passed away in March 2007, how could this be happening. The first thing I did, was scour the internet...BIG mistake! Nothing good is found on the internet, not to mention I am a nurse, and sometimes ignorance is bliss and knowledge is definitely not power! One of those first nights in the hospital, after she got the diagnosis, I remember laying in the bed with her and she promised she would fight this monster with everything in her, that she would never give up. My mother did fight, and she never gave up. With the help of Dr. Mudad and the Memorial Cancer Institute, we were given 19 months with her. We went to disney 3 times (one of her favorite places), celebrated 2 Christmases, many birthdays and her and I went on a cruise...these are memories that I will always cherish.
Mom and I in the Bahamas
Through all of the treatment, she kept a positive attitude, she was determined not to be a statistic. She used to tell me that God didn’t put an expiration date on her, so neither should we. She was an amazing woman with an amazing spirit. She lived for her family, and loved us with every ounce of her soul. She was a mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend and Nana. She rarely complained, even though the chemo and radiation were causing havoc with her body. The first thing she wanted to do when she found out she was sick, was try to figure out how to help other people. But that was her, she would rather do for others then have someone do for her. I know it was difficult for her to have our roles reversed. I became the caretaker...she used to constantly apologize, she hated feeling needy. I wouldn’t have it any other way
April 9, 2010 my mother earned her angel wings, to forever be in the arms of my dad, her soul mate, and watch over us. While the loss of my mom has been devastating, I know that she is here with me in spirit. It is her love that drives me everyday and her love that sparks my passion in the fight against lung cancer.
My parents. Together forever...True Love does exist!
Whenever someone asks how my mom passed away, I tell them she had lung cancer. Always, they tilt their head and then say “oh! she smoked!” Why should that matter, does it take my pain away, did she deserve to get lung cancer because she once smoked. What if I told you that she started smoking when she was 15 when her and a group of her friends went to Pirate’s World, and someone offered her a cigarette, nobody knew then how bad it was for you. Does that make it ok. What if I told you that she quit, cold turkey, in 1992...to prevent getting sick. Does that make it ok? What if I told you that she was a vegetarian, healthy, and made regular visits to her doctor. Does that make it ok? The first question out of everyone’s mouth when they hear she had lung cancer should not be, was she a smoker. The fact is that IT DOES NOT MATTER! She, nor anyone else deserves to get lung cancer. Why did she get lung cancer, BECAUSE SHE HAD LUNGS. Anyone can get it and everyone is at risk. What other cancer or disease is blamed for their ailment. When someone suffers a heart attack do you question their eating habits, when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, do you drill her about her life choices; whether she had kids or breastfed. Do a search on google for smoking risks and practically everything is listed, not just lung cancer.
We have to make a difference together. EDUCATE people, let them know that they don’t have to smoke to get it, but if they did or do, they don’t deserve it. The statistics stink, but they don’t have to. If we educate people on the signs and symptoms and encourage them to have conversations with their doctors about risk factors we can make a difference. Even if you enlighten ONE person on the facts, they will tell someone, then that person will tell someone and it creates a domino effect of awareness. We need to raise our voices, create a unified front, a power to be reckoned with. Together we can diminish the stigma and help eradicate this horribly misunderstood and woefully underfunded disease.
My mom didn't lose her battle to Lung Cancer, she passed it on to us and we must NEVER give up the fight!
The most important thing to my mom...FAMILY
This blog is my journey into the world of charity, changing lives and making a difference. Has your life been impacted by a life changing event? Share your thoughts/questions with me!