"My mom was first diagnosed in 1994. I was nine years old. After a few major surgeries and chemo, she was cleared. The cancer came back in 2004 and I received the call while I was away at college. We were all weak in the knees at the news because the words 'cancer came back' seemed to signal the idea that it would be the beginning of the end. Then, like something miraculous, she was cleared in a matter of months.
"You would think that after two bouts with breast cancer that it would leave her alone. As you know, there is no rhyme or reason when it comes to cancer, and in 2011, the cancer had returned making its way into her bones. The news was devastating. As an only child, I am very close to my mom (especially since becoming an adult). At the time of her Stage IV diagnosis, I was married and a new mama to a 6 month old baby girl. It was really difficult to process but like any hard thing, you cry for awhile (and you'll still cry sometimes) but you learn to pick yourself up and face it.
"Thankfully, even at Stage IV, her treatment kept any progression very minimal the first few years and you couldn't even tell she was sick. We live very close to each other and we would be able to spend time with each other at least a few times every week. Unfortunately, the last two months brought high tumor markers, a new chemo, then more progression. She is currently on another new chemo treatment and has lost her hair for the first time. She is still so beautiful. My husband and dad both shaved their heads in support. We are thankful that a lot of her pain has subsided and we are hoping that the new chemo will keep her stable or even to NED, but only time will tell.
"It's hard and a lot of times you will be overwhelmed with the idea of how unfair it is. My mom is an amazing woman. I have never known a more loving, patient, generous, thoughtful and kind person. She is so quick to help, forgive and love. I wonder why cancer has to exist and there are so many frustrations and what if's. It's all normal and I've learned to embrace those moments but I can't stay there. It's so cliche but I try my hardest to look at the bright side. She's here. She is here after twenty years since her original diagnosis. Our little newborn daughter who was just months old at her Stage IV diagnosis will be turning four years old next month and she has two little sisters now. In 1994, My mom was diagnosed at thirty-eight, mother to a nine-year-old girl and although the cancer is back, it doesn't diminish the fact that she is now a grandmother to three little girls (who are three years old and under) and maybe one or two more in the future.
"If anyone is new to this situation of having cancer recur for a family member or friend, all I can say is: be hope for them. It isn't over til it's over. Yes, cancer is awful and unpredictable and you can be on the mountaintop one day then back to the valley. But you can't let the worry and anxiousness take over your life. No one can predict what will happen in life, whether you are sick or not, but you can try to do the absolute best you can do in whatever situation you're in. Encourage, love, hope for and support your loved one. Find strength and camaraderie with those who have gone through and are going through the same battles. Be real, cry when you need to, but remember that you are never ever alone."
--sarahsusername, Caregiver to mother