Fighting the good fight

In March, Hubby and I drove to West Virginia for a funeral with some wonderful news. We had just found out we were expecting and couldn’t wait to tell everyone..

I’ll never forget my Mom’s reaction. She was sitting at her laptop, farming on Farmville, and I told her I’d been really tired the past few weeks. She, absent mindedly, said, “oh yeah? I wonder why.” And I said, “I know why. I’m going to have a baby.”

She looked at me with what I took to be horror, screamed, and rolled her office chair back. I asked why she was recoiling in horror from me (and I was only half joking). She said she wasn’t, she was trying to get to me, and couldn’t believe it.

It was good times.

Then, in April, only a handful of weeks later, she called with some news of her own.

She had some unusual things going on and mentioned them to her family doctor. After some follow-up visits and tests, she had a diagnosis. She had breast cancer.

My Mom, in typical “my mom” fashion, seemed more worried about how my sister and I would take the news than the fact that she was going through this. She was so positive from the very beginning and had decided on a mastectomy. Keep in mind, this was about 12 weeks before our big family cruise. It was going to take some   smooth cutting and quick healing, but we knew she would do it.

I remember what she said to me after she broke the news…she said that she felt much better about it knowing my sister and I were “on board”. We really didn’t have a choice, but we were all in this together, a family unit, rallying behind our leader.

Her surgery was April 30, and y’all? She didn’t even have to stay overnight. She was able to come home right after to recover.

After the cruise, she started chemo and was slated for 6 sessions about 3 weeks apart. I mean, none of us knew what to expect. She did well each and every time. Mom never likes to tell us when she’s feeling bad — she never has — so we had to make her promise to tell us. It was hard for me because I didn’t have the context that my sister did, being 700 odd miles away. She would get tired, maybe wouldn’t eat like normal, but she was a trooper.

When her hair started falling out,  she just shaved it. I don’t blame her — who would want to clean up all that hair? She got some sassy bandanna and sent pictures to me when she was wig shopping of ridiculous bright red wigs. My Dad shaved his head with her, and continues to do so because it’s more comfortable.

Today is a big day, the day of her LAST chemo treatment. She’s in the homestretch! Of course, this doesn’t mean the end — she has some radiation therapy and then follow-ups for, I assume, years to come. And then she’ll also be a survivor for the rest of her life. This kind of experience doesn’t’ just fade into a distant memory.

I didn’t tell many people she was having surgery, other than my in-laws and a handful of friends. It wasn’t that I was scared she wouldn’t make it or nervous about her treatments, but I couldn’t stand the look of pity on people’s faces when I told them. “My Mom has breast cancer.” “OH I am SO SORRY *super strength sad face*.” I always followed it immediately by saying, “BUT SHE’S GOING TO BE FINE. She has a super good attitude about it!” And that’s sort of exhausting, multiplying that conversation with everyone I know. So I chose to keep it in, for my own emotional well being more so than hers. That was a little selfish, in hindsight.

It’s a different feeling now. I’m elated  that she’s nearing the end. Our little baby boy, her first grandchild, will be here within 6 weeks, and although he doesn’t know it, and may never know it, he’s been a source of so much joy and light during what would normally be a very dark time.

I have a family who is literally overflowing with love for one another. That’s the best medicine you can ask for.

It’s apropos that her final chemotherapy treatment is happening smack dab in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I can climb up on my soapbox and preach to y’all a little. Be patient, I climb slowly. Almost there….OK.

Ladies, check yourselves regularly. Don’t rely on the doctor doing it yearly. I don’t, but I sure well now, you can guarantee that. The American Cancer Society says the 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is 89 percent. Most will never have a recurrence. And detected early before it spreads, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent! So help yourself.

Don’t assume it won’t happen to you or someone you love, because it will happen to one or another. I promise that if you ask around your office, kid’s school, church, wherever, you’ll find at least 3 out of 5 people know someone who has breast cancer or has been directly affected by it.

Finally, attitude is everything. It’s scary, for sure, but it will make things SO much easier than if you enter into something like this with a terrible attitude.

This is for my Mom, your Moms, aunts, grandmothers, best friends, sisters, real life friends and blog friends who have experienced breast cancer and are fighting the good fight or have kicked it in the tail.

Congrats, Momma! You’ve done great!

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31 comments to Fighting the good fight

  • Sarah Mac

    GO MOMMA, GO MOMMA, GO!!!!!

  • Scraps

    So glad that your mom's doing well! That's great!

    Just picked up my shirt for the ACS Making Strides walk next weekend, will keep you and she in my thoughts as I walk :)

  • C Cheyne

    Amanda, thank you for sharing your/your mom's story. Having been a part of the 3-Day event, meeting and talking to breast cancer survivors is always so uplifting. All the best to your entire family. Vanilla frosties for all! ;)

  • JMJE

    I am glad you mom is having her last chemo session and I hope things continue to go well for her. My minister who married me just got diagnosed a couple months ago and had the first surgery last week. So it is true that everyone knows someone.

  • Rebecca Jo

    BIG HIGH FIVES to your mom in her battle… sounds like an amazing woman!

    I love that her husband shaves his head too :) That's love! <3

    We'll keep rooting your momma on!!!!

  • The Random Blogette

    Sending my love and prayers to you guys and your mom! She sounds like a pretty amazing woman! And it is awesome that your dad shaved his head too! I bet that they are so excited to meet their grandson in a few weeks! So happy for you guys!

  • Shutterbug Mama

    I totally agree with you that attitude is everything. My grandmother had lymphoma, and was told she had probably 6 months. She laughed at it, stayed positive and lived life for 2 more wonderful years.

    You mom IS a survivor and that means the world to you, your family, and people that have never met her.

    http://www.shutterbugmama2010.blogspot.com

  • Crazy Shenanigans

    Yay!!! I'm glad to hear that she's in her last treatment! That's great news!

  • JessMel

    Being friends with your sister I have known about this for months and have learned so much. You all have been amazing as a family unit throught all this and I'm sure that is what's helping your mom through.

    Save the ta-ta's and your life!

  • The Only Girl

    SO glad this story has a happy ending! Your Mom is blessed to be surrounded by such love. How wonderful that the next chapter for your family is the excitement of your baby's birth!

  • foxy

    Everyone knows someone that has it… isn't that the truth. The sad truth, actually. I'm so glad that your mom was positive throughout and was intent on kicking cancer's butt. GO MOM! And wasn't Luke's timing just perfect – to help bring smiles into a trying situation? That's fate right there… the Good Lord smiling down on you. :)

    Thanks for sharing, Amanda. And keep up the good fight, Mom!

  • SurferWife

    Yay for Mama Blogworthy!

    I wish I could have been there to watch you climb onto your soapbox…

  • Canadianbloggergirl

    Your post today is one that couldn't have come at a better time. My mother inlaw was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. I know its not exactly the same. But she just got her diagnosis and seems to be very positive. We live a two day drive away from her so we are unable to be there for her. Your post has given us a fresh outlook.

    Thank you
    CBG
    canadianbloggergirl.blogspot.com

  • steff

    what a great post! your mom sounds like a great woman and it's very inspiring to know how positive she remained throughout the treatment.

    best wishes to her!

  • Lisa

    I am *so* glad your mom is doing well-she sounds like an amazing woman!

  • Snuggle Wasteland

    Yeah for your mom! So glad she is doing well.

    My mom had a mastectomy 25 years ago and has been cancer free ever since. She had a similar attitude to your mom's. I agree that it has a lot to do with their success.

    Have a great weekend!

  • The Blogging Goddess

    This post really touched me…my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and a 10% survival rate over 18 years ago…he said it wasn't going to kill him and I believe it was his attitude that saved his life. Your mom is an amazing woman and I salute her for her strength, will and great attitude.

  • Erin

    It's truly amazing how many people get breast cancer, but you're right that it has a really good survival rate. My grandmother had it, had a mastectomy and chemo and there was never a recurrence of cancer of any kind. I am so glad your mom is doing well and I know your baby boy is going to give her that much more joy to keep her spirits up as she finishes treatment. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

  • notquiteawake

    What a great post. Congratulations to you mom! And congratulations to you and your family. It seems like you have a great one!

  • Liz

    This seems like such an uplifting, happy post about an otherwise sad topic. I'm so glad that your mom is doing so well and she has her army of troops rallying behind her!!

  • Abbi

    My mom is a breast cancer re-fighter. I say re-fighter, because she is fighting the good fight again after 7 years of remission. This time, however, the breast cancer is in her lower left lung and pelvis bone. The little cells that didn't get killed with chemo settled in.

    Luckily, she is being treated at Duke University, doesn't get much better than that! Granted, she's labeled stage 4, but they've got her on a great regimen of medications that has completely halted any more growth of the cancer cells.

    Your story is amazing, and please know, I am praying for your mom and your family!!

    ~Abbi @ Musings of Motherhood

    http://abbischmidt.blogspot.com

  • mariahsmile

    Congrats to your momma! Baby Luke is so special to have such a strong grandmomma (and you a momma)!

  • Jackie

    Woohoo to Judy!!!!!!!!! So glad that she is done with the treatments and all has gone well. Attitude is a HUGE part of recovery in any case. I love that your family is so close!!!

  • Stephanie in Suburbia

    AWESOME! This is so inspiring!

  • Hutch

    Your mom sounds like an amazing woman! I'm so glad to hear she's doing well!

    My grandmother survived it as well, it really does touch everyone and I'm glad you got on your soapbox. People need to hear it.

  • Erin

    Hello! I just found your blog today and I had to leave a quick comment to say what an awesome survival story! Thank you for sharing your story, and congrats to your mom AND all of you for getting through breast cancer together!

  • SS

    Oh….. I'm sorry to hear that your mom and family have been going thru this. :-(

    But great news that she's almost done with chemo and it sounds like she is surrounded with a lot of love and support

    Best wishes as the continues to "Fight like a girl!"

  • Deidra

    Lovely story with a winning attitude. :)

  • Cheryl

    So glad your mom is doing well!

  • V

    Your mama is a great example of a fighter and survivor! I'm 22 and have a lump I'm going to the doctor today to check out so IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE!!!
    I'm also a volunteer for CANSA http://www.cansa.org.za and i have a cause on fb just for Breast Cancer. On my page, right tab on top, click the bra pink button LOL!
    I'd love to maybe put this on the cause Amanda?
    So i may sound cheesy but YOU GO MAMA!!

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