As I reflect back on the beginning of this journey three years ago, I'm reminded of many blessings. My kids have been a great support and encouragement to me! I want to share a sweet paper my son wrote for school that summarizes several events and conversations. He was 12 at the time of my diagnosis.
“BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” I heard as I stretched out my arm to turn off my alarm. Better get ready to go to Grandma’s house, I thought to myself. I slowly got out of bed and got all my things I needed to go to my grandma’s house for a week. After all of my family and I got everything we needed packed into our van, we set off for my grandma’s.
After a four hour car trip, which felt like ten hours, we finally made it. It wasn’t that bad of a trip; it was pretty nice actually, until my grandma pointed out something on my mom’s neck during dinner.
“It looks like you got a bump or something on your neck, Terri,” She said. “What is it?’
“I don’t know. Do you guys see anything?” She asked around the table.
“No, I don’t,” I told her. At least, at the time I didn’t. As the trip went on, the more my grandma was talking about it, the more noticeable it became. My grandma kept going on and on about it, until my mom finally decided to get it checked at the doctor after we got back home.
My mom and dad went to the doctor after her surgery to find out about the bump on her neck. At the time I wasn’t worried. I figured if it was anything, it would be something small like some weird thing for the flu, but it wasn’t. When my parents got back from the doctor, they called my three sisters and me out to the living room and told us the bad news, that my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It hit my sisters and me pretty hard, but we tried not to show it, not wanting to make things worse for my dad because we could tell it hit him the hardest.
After we got the news things were really strange and different. Because of the medicine and chemo my mom was taking she couldn’t get any germs. Every time we went outside, shook hands with someone, or touched anything really, we had to use Germ-X and make sure our hands were germ free. My mom also had to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer wherever she went.
The chemo she was taking also made all her hair fall out so she had to get a wig. The whole family went with my mom to go help her pick out her wig. I don’t know if I was having trouble accepting the fact my mom got cancer or fathoming it, but when we were at the wig store is when everything really hit me. I don’t completely know what happened, but I just sort of broke down and started crying.
My family knew before the wig store that I was having a hard time with everything, but they didn’t know I was taking it as hard as I was. It didn’t help when everyone would come up to me and try to tell me everything would be okay, not even when my parents told me that because if they were being honest, they didn’t know. The only thing that I or anyone could do that really helped was to pray, and that’s something I did a lot of.
I spent a lot of my time in my room the next couple of weeks thinking and praying about everything that was going on, while my parents spent a lot of their time making sure my sisters and I were okay when they weren’t at the doctor’s office. After my parents got back from their second doctor’s appointment, my mom came in to tell me about what her doctor said.
“Hey Jarod. Whacha doing?” she asked me.
“Oh, nothing, just some homework. How was your doctor’s appointment?’
“It was fine, but I wanted to tell you about what the doctor said about the cancer I have.”
“Oh, okay what?”
“Well it turns out I have two types of lymphoma. And I don’t have the worst type of lymphoma there is, but one type of cancer that can’t completely be cured.”
“So it will just lay dormant in you your whole life?” I asked with a confused face.
“Well, it won’t necessarily be dormant. It has a chance of coming back.”
“SO WHAT’S THE POINT OF EVEN HAVING MEDICINE IF IT WON’T CURE THE CANCER!?!” I shouted while tears were building up in my eyes.
“Because the medicine will help, and it doesn’t have a high chance of coming back after the medicine,” my mom told me while tears were building up in her eyes as well. At that point I didn’t know what to say, so I just laid down on my bed and cried. My mom stood in the middle of my room and slowly walked out.
It took a couple of days to realize that it was stupid of me to be mad, so I went to my mom and just said that I was sorry and walked away. I went to my room and thought for a bit about how things are going to be now that my mom has cancer and how just life was going to be.
“God,” I said at the brink of tears. “You know that these last few weeks have been the hardest weeks I have ever had in my life, and even though this whole, I don’t know, thing or chapter of my life, I don’t know… Even though it has been very hard, I can see, I-I know, there has been good in it as well. If this whole whatever never happened, I wouldn’t be as close to my family as I am now. I wouldn’t be as close to You as I am now, and as I said before it has been very hard, but I would not trade this experience for anything. So with all that said um, I just wanted thank you. Um, uh, I’m not saying I’m happy my mom got cancer, I’m saying I’m thankful for all of the good that came from this.”
“Jarod,” my mom said as she slowly opened my door. “I just wanted to make sure you were doing okay.”
“Yeah, I’m doing okay. I’m sorry I’ve been giving you a hard time lately, it’s just been kinda hard adjusting, well more like accepting, everything that’s happened these last few weeks.”
“It’s okay. I know you’ve been having a tough time. It’s been a tough time for everyone. This is just a part of life we have to get use to now.”
“Yeah… okay.” She then made her way to the door. “Mom,” I called out.
“So, you said the type of cancer you have, it’ll never completely be out of you, right?”
“Hmm okay, that’s what I thought,” I said as she walked out of the room and closed the door. I sat on my bed for a little bit. I wasn’t thinking or praying, just sitting. And then I said, “Amen.”
|November 2012 - two months before diagnosis|