My Mom, The Warrior

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By Liz James (Customer Service)

 

It’s way past Mother’s Day, I know.  But then, I think brilliant mothers should be celebrated every day.  At least that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

So, as you’ve probably gathered, my Mom is brilliant.  And I’m not just talking about her going for her Doctorate at the very young age of 35 (may or may not be her actual, physical age).  It’s not just because she seems to know everything and helped me correct my papers in school.  While she is all these things, I’m the most proud of her showing the world how badly she’s kicking breast cancer’s butt.

This isn’t the first time, either.  Back in 2006, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was just getting out of high school at the time, so things… I don’t think they really clicked for me.  Cancer was scary, yes, but I was never really overly concerned.  Plus, as far as cancers went, her type was pretty mild.  Her initial treatment was done in about six weeks or so, and then it was done.  Yup, a little surgery, a bit of radiation, and bam, cancer went away.
When cancer goes away, it’s not supposed to come back.  I mean, my paternal grandfather fought cancer several times before it took him away, but he was an exception.  Lightning isn’t supposed to strike twice.   But then Mom called me one Saturday in late January.   She had her yearly mammogram, and then a biopsy, and the news was that she had breast cancer.  Again.  I was fine on the phone with her, but later that night as I was telling some of my church friends, it became real when I spoke the words out loud.

This cancer was worse, and therefore the fight was, too.  Starting in March, Mom went to MD Anderson for Chemo every three weeks.  Chemo was a new experience, since her first bout with cancer didn’t require it.  But we quickly realized that it, in a word, sucked.  Mom’s hair fell out pretty quickly, and nausea and fatigue became usual feelings for her.  Chemo changed her taste buds, so her usual drinks of water and tea are now unpalatable to her. It’s great she now likes Dr Pepper, since it’s one of the few drinks that don’t taste funny to her but it’s still weird to see her drinking it somewhat voluntarily.  And since we never know what she’ll feel like eating, takeout has become the norm rather than the exception.

She’s fought cancer these past few months with dignity and a perseverance that astounds me and many others.  Mom is on so many prayer lists, and we have felt those prayers every step of the way!  And she’s going to have another fight as surgeons perform a mastectomy and she learns how to live with that.  I know she’s going to do amazing, though.

Back when I first found out about the diagnosis, I wrote my Mom a poem and surprised her with it.  And now, with her permission, I’d like to share it with you.  Maybe you have someone fighting cancer, or you yourself are.  I hope you take heart in knowing that you are not alone, and that “victim” is not your name!

 

For Lucy

 

By Liz James

 

A breast that once helped give me life

Is now poisonous to my Mom.

Now whether it stays or goes,

The decision is not fun.

 

But ‘tis not the boob that gave me breath,

Nor taught me to love a book.

It wasn’t the tit that helped me write,

Or fed me what she could cook

 

It was not her chest that comforted me,

When I was overwrought with fears

Nor did it hold me quite as close

When she wiped away my tears.

 

Cancer, you treacherous beast,

You think that you have won,

Ten long years you’ve waited for this,

Thinking this battle done.

 

You seek to defeat my Mom,

Say she’ll never be the same,

But though she’s been called many things,

“Victim” is not her name.

 

Try “Strong” or “Mighty” or “Beautiful”

And “Victorious” will work as well!

But you, cancer, you vile thing,

You can go straight to hell!

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