Ringing the chemo bell with family

I remember sitting with my husband at home on New Year’s Eve 2017. Our running joke is that we always proclaim the coming year will be the one we slow down and smell the roses. Well we decided this year was going to be different, and 2018 was going to be the year we kept that promise. 

Well, as they say, life always has other plans, and 2018 was no exception. The year started with a new job for my husband, new childcare for my kids, and a new ulcer for me (thank you stress).  As we began to find our feet in our new routine, the biggest challenge of the year came the Big C; Cancer. After months in and out of the ER and countless tests and doctors’ appointments, my Mom was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Like many people, cancer is no stranger to my family. My Mother had lost her father to lung cancer and eight years ago lost her husband to leukemia. Cancer also took my grandmothers well before their time. Although we were expecting the news with my Mother, the report wasn’t any easier to hear after a long tragic relationship with the disease.  

The thing about cancer is that it just doesn’t invade and take over your body. It spreads throughout your life and the lives of everyone around you. Cancer is a ruthless disease that takes more than modern medicine to beat; it takes an army. An army of friends, family, volunteers, and people around you to care for, support and get you through a long and challenging journey to health. For my Mom, that army came in the form of a group of the most headstrong and stubborn women I’ve ever met, my aunts and my sisters. The breed of women in my family is a unique group of the most headstrong women you’ve likely ever met. And this group of women wasn’t going to let my Mom fight alone. 

Within two weeks of diagnosis, my Mom started a six-month regimen of Chemotherapy. We wanted to be sure my Mom never had to go through a treatment alone. While we all lived in different cities presented its challenges, but we all came together to take turns both attending the medication and doctors’ appointments, and my Mom would then return to one of our homes to recoup. 

In November my Mom had her final chemotherapy treatment, and we were all there to celebrate and ring the bell alongside her. We also received the best Christmas gift of all to find out that her body responded better than any of us could have hoped, and she was in remission. 

When I look back at the past year and the journey my Mom’s been on, I feel blessed; an odd word to associate with the Big C. I learned throughout it all just how lucky I am to have friends and family that when chips are down indeed rallied around each other for support. I also learned what truly matters and that it’s not about how successful you are, or the having all the fancy “things,” but about the life you live and the people you live it with. 

As we enter 2019, I value the lessons 2018 has given me but most of all the people I have around me. My Mom still has a few hurdles to overcome but I know we will get there, one day at a time.