Support came from everywhere. When my mom was going through law school, she called it the time she “lost control of her household.” HAHA. It was truly inmates running the asylum. A story from our neighbor was one day my little sister was standing outside in straight up boys clothes which were too big and definitely not for a little girl. She tipped off my mom and soon my sister got a trip to the store for clothing. Meals were easy and cheap since my dad worked a lot and got home late. There was homework and sports practices and games on the evenings and weekends, there was yard work and normal chores that needed to be done. My dad came up with the easiest thing to eat was chicken, rice and broccoli (hence the name of the blog). When my mom was going through treatment we probably ate the best. Yeah, we had CRB and fast food meals and other things, but we also had meals from everywhere coming towards us. Women from my mom’s women’s group came by at least 3-4 times a week. They introduced themselves and had heard about me and my family but we had never met. My mom meant enough to them that they took time from their families and schedules and made us dinner. It meant so much. Again, it was a time that I felt that I had to be strong for them just as much as I had to be strong for myself.
My mom was strong as an ox through the whole thing. She fought and fought and fought. She went through it all focused for herself and for her family. By this time I was working for the Navy Exchange and had a whole new group of support and mentors there who continue with me to today.
I recall 2001 ending on a positive note, hope was what we were looking at ahead of us. In the spring, my mom continued with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, followed by ongoing marker tests and appointments to see how things were going. We threw ourselves at her and supported with whatever we could. And yet, what I can remember she was always there for us. She would always listen to us about our lives, come to our games, and remind us of how strong we were. A lot of me thinks that I became a lot closer to my mom BECAUSE of cancer. I don’t know what path we were all on before she was diagnosed, but I doubt I would be the person I am today. Either that be good or bad I will never know, but I believe that the largest turning point in my life happened 14 years ago.
Following the reconstruction, my mom continued with treatments and in the summer, radiation was complete and continued with chemotherapy for a few months. My dad, brother and I all shaved our heads as my mom lost her hair, and we supported her by transporting her wherever she needed to go. Following her treatments, she would need ongoing appointments for blood tests. Eventually, we all got into a routine. She would go for chemo once a week and she would be up the next two days, and half of the third. She would then crash for about four days, yet as long as she slept she would be up and about doing her work. She put so much effort into her students and her practice. Thankfully with my job I was able to work out taking her to appointments and dropping her at treatments sessions. This turned out to be a task passed between my brother, my dad, and myself.
Most of the time it was my dad and often when it was not I stepped in. My mom needed a supervisor whenever she went to the doctor. One time, her and my dad were walking up to the oncology floor and one of the nurses gave her a bad vibe. She immediately did an about-face and was out the door, down the stairs, and out to the sidewalk before my dad finally caught up with her. From that moment on, we made sure someone was with her at all times. Another time, my brother and his two friends escorted her to get her blood drawn. The phlebotomists laughed as she walked in with these three large guys escorting her to get her blood drawn.
My mom hated getting her blood drawn, and she had to have it done often. She would go in for blood draws on a Monday, then would see the doctor on Wednesday. This was every two weeks. We would go into to the hospital to get her blood drawn, but this was no easy task. My mom had “rolly veins” and only a few people she would entrust with sticking her because they would get it on the first time. We knew these people’s schedules and where they worked and if necessary chased them around the hospital in order to get them to draw her blood. They were awesome. Years later, I would see them in the hospital because I was with a client and they would give me a big hug and ask about the family. It felt as though they were part of our family. Each blood draw ended the same. She asked them to make sure it came out well. Then she gave them a big hug and talked about their family and even music. One guy never smiled with anyone but my mom. He was a quiet Mexican guy and my mom finally broke him. He was always smiling with her.