My first brush with cancer was when my daughter Megan was born. I was a 23 year old, first time mother. At her discharge physical from the hospital, her pediatrician found a mass in her abdomen. We were not going to be able to take our beautiful baby girl home that day as we had planned. At that time, EMMC didn’t have a neonatal unit; we were sent to Portland immediately to meet with a pediatric oncologist who diagnosed a tumor on her right adrenal gland with 90% certainty. We were told to expect 9 months to a year of chemotherapy.
It is a heart wrenching experience to walk your newborn to an operating room door. She tolerated the surgery well, and we spent every waking moment with her while we waited for her pathology report. My mother had dropped everything and met us in Portland. I was numb and operating on autopilot. She asked the docs and nurses all the right questions and made sure I was taking care of myself while the medical professionals were taking care of Megan.
It was the best possible news. It wasn’t a tumor; it was an adrenal cyst. There would be no chemo. We could take our baby girl home.
I promptly put cancer out of my mind.
Out of the blue four years later, my mother was rushed to the ER in terrible pain. It was discovered that she had a tumor on her right kidney. The kidney had to be removed. She received radiation treatment for months at EMMC’s CancerCare.
I remember seeing both of my daughters, ages 4 and 1 at the time, sitting with my mom on her hospital bed and found myself wondering how I could possibly raise them without her guidance and support.
Once again, fortune smiled upon us. My mom has been cancer free for over 20 years now. My daughters adore their Mammy, and have been blessed to share birthdays, graduations, weddings, and all their special events with her. I’m so grateful she was around to help all of us survive adolescence!
I have often wondered how different would my life have been without my mother in it. In recent years, I have seen so many of my friends lose their mothers to cancer. They were all too young. Their families have been devastated by the loss.
I became a grandmother myself recently. It has been yet another milestone I have been able to share with my mother, who has been fortunate enough to meet her first great granddaughter.
I take the Challenge to find a cure for cancer so every family has the opportunity to make the kind of memories my family has had the opportunity to make.
Please join us on August 15 and 16th when “All Roads Lead to Champion the Cure Challenge!