Summer Break – pt. 2 (Vulnerability)

The first night I came home for summer break, my dad told me that this is going to be the hardest summer of my life. I think he is right.

Mom has shaved her head and is wearing a wig out in public. Its crazy though because many people have no idea that she is wearing a wig. It looks so natural that sometimes I even forget about it until we get home and she takes it off.

Physically, there has not been as much progress with her cancer as we had expected (thank goodness). Her mental health is a different story though. For almost two weeks she struggled pulling herself out of bed, along with panic attacks that came in waves throughout the week. Thankfully, her doctors realized what was happening and has given her some meds to level back out her emotions.

My mother and I went out to lunch the day after she began taking her medication. In the middle of the busy restaurant we talked about how she felt insignificant, misunderstood, and limited on the time left in her life. She spoke about how some days her anxiety roped itself around her, making it impossible to focus on anything.

While on the unusual lunch topic, she told me about one of her first moments of severe anxiety, when she woke up during chemo one Thursday and had realized my dad had left. During my years of middle school and high school, I never saw my parents as overly in love or affectionate. For some reason this image of my mom in pure panic because my dad left to get coffee, left me raw. She admitted to me that for some reason her mind did not register the fact that he had left to just go get coffee (like he normally does in the 2 hour chemo treatments), but instead she thought he had actually just left. Up and left her, for good. My mom is the strongest person I know, and has never admitted anything like this to me, and not only did that break my heart, but it made her stronger in my eyes. I know many people who would never admit such vulnerability and weakness, including myself, but she laid it all out on the table for me to examine and experience with her.

I have been struggling some too lately, and I might as well explain how vulnerable I am as well.

As a 20-year-old woman, I find my Pinterest feed full of wedding dresses, engagement rings, and home décor. I know that all of this is in the very far future and I am nowhere near needing to prepare for any of it. But lately, when looking at these ideas and saving them to my Pinterest boards, I can’t help but picture these big events. These big events that (unless some crazy miracle occurs) I will not have my mom with me to experience and guide me through them. It’s a very grave thing of me to write, I know, and I am sorry.

Clyde (my counselor at school), always told me that these thoughts will happen, and there is no way for me to stop them, I just have to feel the pain and sadness and then keep pushing through.

Vulnerability is an embarrassing and frustrating concept that we all deal with, and sometimes, to know our true strength and to know our true weaknesses, we just have to have other people acknowledge it. So thank you, my fellow blogger for acknowledging my vulnerability.

Sorry again to all of my followers for taking so long in between posts. I would say “I’ll do better”, but I cannot make those promises. Thank you for following again!!

Summer Break – pt. 1

I am officially home for summer, it has been a long one already, and I am only 4 days in!

There have been some updates with my moms health over the past few weeks.

She has been doing a round of chemo every week since January. The last scans showed some breaking up and shrinkage in her liver and lungs, but also new spots are popping up in her liver. The doctors have pushed her 3 month scans up to a little less than 2 months, just to see if there has been any growth and if we need to switch the level of chemo.

Things are starting to get a little too real for my liking also.

My moms hair as almost all fallen out, and she has found a nice wig to wear that looks completely real. Along with her hair falling out (which happened as couple months ago), her nails have started to bruise and bleed underneath, making it hard for her to do much with her hands without them bleeding.

My grandfather (so my moms dad) has been talking to me a lot about how his mother also died from this type of breast cancer when he was in high school. Yesterday, he mentioned that his dad also got remarried a while after his mom died, and then proceeded to warn me that that could happen to us as well.

On the first full day I was home from school (Thursday), I went with her to her chemo treatment.

The cancer center is a sad place.

They try to make it brightly colored and bring in dogs, music, and other visitors to keep the spirits up, but underneath it all, there is just this deep sadness in everyone.

Lately I have also been feeling very selfish. I know many friends that are spending their summers away overseas, studying abroad, and living in new places. I don’t get the luxury of leaving with nothing to worry about. It’s very selfish of me, I know.

All in all, things are unraveling a little quicker than expected.

Long Time, No See

Wow. Hi everyone!

I have been in full swing of volleyball and school for the past few weeks and am finally getting around to looking at my blog again.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. First thing first, I reached out to the counselor here at school and have been going to counseling sessions each Friday. I am skeptical about writing about that, just because I hope no one I know is reading my blog. Not that talking to a counselor is a bad thing, but I don’t want people I know to know.

My counselors name  is Clyde and he’s an older gentleman, with a crooked smile and warm eyes. I really do appreciate him, because even if I tell him that I don’t have anything else to talk about, he always sits and listens to  my small talk until I get around to my next topic I need to get off my chest.

I’m not overly sad or in need of a lot of help, but I like talking to Clyde. Its easy to talk to him because I don’t know anything about him or his life outside of his broom closet office. I don’t like dumping all of my rollercoaster feelings on my friends and my boyfriend. I know they probably wouldn’t mind, but it is a lot to process and honestly, none of them really understand the severity of all of it.

I went to Florida with some friends for spring break and really enjoyed that. A little less than a week ago I also went home with a couple friends for Easter break. We had a lot of fun and everything seemed relatively normal because my friends were home, so mom wore her wig the whole time and we didn’t really talk about treatments or anything else.

I am planning on living in the city mom gets her treatments done this summer, so I won’t be home, but I will probably end up going with her every Thursday.

We haven’t had any new updates recently, but she had scans this Wednesday and should be getting the results back next week. She is nervous and so is everyone else just because last time she wasn’t feeling bad, but the scans came back with growth.

As I am writing this, I am also throwing it back to my child hood and watching Bill Nye the science guy. I’m not sure why that is relevant, but it has put me in a pretty good mood.

Thanks again everyone, and I’ll for sure be writing again soon.

Unmentioned side effects

There’s a lot of symptoms that come along with this disease. Many, the doctors don’t know about, or just don’t bother to mention. There are a lot of things that I forgot happened in 6th grade, when she was first diagnosed, that are happening again.

When I was home for break I wrote down a lot about how my mother was acting. You wouldn’t notice these ‘symptoms’ if you were only around her for a couple hours, but living with her, you end up noticing a lot.

These first symptom: ‘Energy of a dropped Soda’

Anxiety, I can only describe it as frustrating. The anxiety always keeps her on the move. She can never sit still, always jumping in the car, or cleaning the house. Her hands have to keep moving, so her mind doesn’t. The amount of energy is enough to make you understand why, and also enough to set your nerves on edge.

Symptom #2: ‘Firecracker Fuse’

I had forgotten about how it was the first time around, and its not her fault because its just a result of all the pint up energy. There was one moment over the break that I felt so bad for my youngest brother because he did what any teenage boy does and smarted off to my mom. The poor boy was not expecting such a large retaliation, but he had his ass handed to him on a silver platter. Along with the anxiety comes the snap of the temper, not from medicine or the actual disease, but just from the amount of stress that is put on ones mind and body.

Symptom #3: ‘Mood swings from lucifer’

God bless my wonderful boyfriend, because this symptom is all me and he takes the brunt of it way more than he should. (He’ll never see this, but thanks for sticking with me and my insane mood swings. You’re seriously the best) When things don’t go my way, or are out of place, I cant help but get so annoyed and mad. Not only are my mood swings crazy, but they’re almost childish to me when I look back on why I got so mad and upset. Example : Tonight my boyfriend and I miscommunicated on hanging out, making it to where I was waiting around for him to text me, when he had no idea I wanted to hangout, leaving me fuming and him way too apologetic.

More to come in the future. Thanks everyone for the follows and likes, it means a lot.

 

Birthday Surprises

Hi everyone! Its been a while. School and volleyball are making it somewhat hard to keep up with the blog, so thanks for staying with me!

Last week was my mothers birthday!

My dad and I formed a plan to meet in Nashville and surprise her. I spent over 6ish hours in planes and the airport, and finally arrived at the Nashville airport around 10 on Friday night. Due to my schedule, and theirs, I could only stay for Friday and Saturday night with them in Nashville, but we had a lot of fun. She was so happy and surprised to see me there, and seeing her so happy was very rewarding.

If I’m being honest, it was a weird visit. Mom was overly positive and telling of how open she has been with others about her chemo and her journey. I guess it is weird to me, because here at school I try to dodge conversation of how she is and treatments, just because I don’t like to throw the truth on people.

My mom looks great, and I did need to see that she was doing ok with my own eyes. I think she will be losing her hair in the next week or two. Once when she was drying her hair this weekend, I looked down on the bathroom floor and it was covered with quite a bit more hair than usual.

She did buy a wig the other day though, and her hair stylist was able to cut it just like how her hair looks now, and so once she starts wearing it, it’ll just look like she got a dye job!

She has seemed to wrap her head around all of it again, which I’m very thankful for. My brother is going with her tomorrow to her treatment, and I’ve cried more about him having to go to the treatment with her more than I have anything else. I pray my brothers are able to handle everything.

Again, I’ll be better about keeping up with my posts and I’m working on another one that will go up by the weekend!

Thank you all and I hope everyone had a great V-day!

 

 

 

8 Years

Well, here is another Thursday in the books. My mom had her second chemo treatment today. Yesterday she had a minor surgery to put in a stint so they no longer have to search for a vein.

Dad said she cried a lot about the stint, and mostly just because its a milestone that we didn’t want to reach this soon. My dad and I talked about it and in the long run it will probably be a blessing because after years of shots and blood work, she will no longer cringe at the thought of being prodded multiple times.

She said something to me before I left that struck me and I have been thinking about it a lot. From when she was first diagnosed, to her second diagnosis, we have been dealing with this for a solid 8 years. She have been fighting some sort of breast cancer for 8 years.

I have to admit, I’m pretty mad at God right now (and its not easy for me to put the fact that I’m  mad at him out there). My family needs my mother here, my two brothers count on her everyday, I want to hear her voice everyday, I always need her advice, and she doesn’t deserve this.

I always see people posting on social media about the power of prayer and how this person was ‘healed’ and how God has performed miracles on that person and the next. So I’m gonna be a little shit head and ask Him, “can you send a little bit of it our way too?”

But I guess we are all kind of mad at Him for something, so I might as well jump in line.

 

Spilled Wine

The past few days have hit me like a train if I am being honest.

After the excitement of seeing my friends and getting back into the swing of things wore off, I am back to square one.

Wine is so good, but also something that brings out a good amount of emotions. I only had two glasses last night, and was no where close to even feeling any sort of tipsy. But as I was standing in a crowded room full of sweaty drunk college students, I was suddenly over it. Next weekend might be different and I might totally be ok with the drinking and partying, but this weekend I felt the weight of the break, and my family back home struggling, swallow me.

Every time I talk to one of my parents on the phone they always put on a good voice and try to assure me that everything is fine. And maybe it is, but I want to be home. I am afraid I am missing something, out of the loop.

I miss being the strong one for my family. I feel like at home I can be confronted by all of it and I can stay stone faced and dry eyed. But here, when I’m taking a step back from it all, it’s harder than I thought.

I love college, but I am missing my family more than ever before.

Back at School

Hi everyone!

I am back at school and as far as I can tell, this semester will be busy and quite a bit of fun.

I had an interesting conversation with my boyfriend last night about the gifts that people think are acceptable to give a cancer patient. His mother also had breast cancer a few years ago but is a survivor and in good health!

Why do people think it is acceptable to give a cancer patient something with pink ribbons all over if? Or even a shirt that says fighter, survivor, etc.? My mother received many different shirts and cups over the break that had something to do with breast cancer, and many she’s going to end up giving away with the tags still on them.

Its frustrating because people don’t really realize that we don’t want bracelets with breast cancer symbols on them, or mugs, or shirts, and everything else. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want a mug that’s going to remind me of all the hard times, suffering, and frustration that came along with those pink ribbons every time I take a sip of my coffee.

So, just a reminder that giving a cancer patient or the family of a cancer patient, something that glorifies the terrible disease isn’t a good idea.

 

Bittersweet

I know my posts aren’t happy, but this is my therapy and I cannot thank the people who read and follow me enough. The fact that I am able to document how I’m feeling and knowing that someone is out there and understanding is a relief and better therapy than I ever imagined. So thank you.

I officially have 3 days until I head back to school and am 8 hours away from my family and mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love school and I can’t wait to go back and see everyone, but I feel like I need to be home to help out.

So, for about 2 years after my mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer everything was semi normal. For MBC there is nothing that we can do to get rid of it or put her back in remission. She will forever have MBC and we can only hope to suppress the spreading and not let it get to any vital organs.

She took medicine orally and had shots every two weeks. The hormonal treatments were working for a little bit, but eventually the scans showed progression. We had our many ups and downs with the medicines that she was taking, with every few blood results coming back with numbers higher than the last.

A week before I came home for Christmas break we got great news. Her blood results came back and they had lowered a crazy amount from her last results! The medicine had to be working!

With the good news raising our spirits my dad and mom took me to the next doctors appointment, 8 days before Christmas. The news received was very far from a Christmas miracle and was completely opposite of what we hoped. Turns out that the blood results were completely wrong from what we had thought and that the medicine wasn’t working. The cancer was spreading and had spread farther into my mothers liver.

Long story short, my mother has to start a weekly chemo treatments now to try to fight off the spreading. Chemo is the LAST thing she wants.

Even though we live in a small town, many people don’t realize that she still has cancer. My mother looks great and is healthy, and people think that it was something that she fought off and beat again.

She cried when she realized she had to do chemo again, and quite frankly, possibly the rest of her life. That was probably the hardest thing to listen to. When the doctors walked in and explained that it had spread and “pretty significantly”, it was like a bomb dropped in the room.

My mother is starting chemo next Thursday and I am leaving on Monday. I won’t be here to help drive her back and forth. I won’t be here to help my  brothers or my dad. I wont be here to help her do her makeup when she loses her eyebrows and eyelashes. I won’t be here to comfort her when she looks in the mirror.

I am excited to get back to the college life and to see all my friends, but I feel like I have aged 10 years over this break and I’m not really sure how I feel about going back.

Its a little bittersweet I guess.

Meet the Fam:

So, I left out a couple things of somewhat importance in my last blog post.

I am from a small town in a southern state. The town (lets call it Shitsville…ok no, I’m just [semi]joking…we’ll call it “the Burg”) has two stop lights and only a couple thousand people. Everyone knows everyone in this town, which is a blessing but also a terrible curse. My graduating class had less than 100 people, so it was hard to get away with much.

I have always had big dreams of going out of state for college and actually landed myself a scholarship to play volleyball out of state (5+ hours away) my senior year. I am blessed by the fact that I left the Burg, because not many do. Living so far away from home for the past few years is hard, because I feel like I need to help out as much as I can with mom and I also feel like I’m losing valuable time.

I have two younger brothers, who both aspire to also go out of state and escape the death grip of the town. And let me tell you, they will. Their ACT scores and AP test scores are insane for their age, so yes, they will also go out of state and probably come neurosurgeons (because they’re that damn smart).

My father is a pretty big person in our state, so we are also under quite a bit of pressure as kids to always be polished and ready for events. I enjoy what he does, but as a high schooler I had the whole town and state watching my every move. So, in certain parts of the year he has to live away from home during the week, and that’s always hard on mom.

Last part of this post, I’m going to include the facts about Metastatic Breast Cancer. These facts and post are not to make anyone feel bad. All in all, I just want to spread awareness and help my readers understand the severity.

All facts are from the organization Twisted Pink’s website. This organization donates 100% of its proceeds to research for Metastatic Breast Cancer.

  • About 37 percent of women live at least 3 years after diagnosis with MBC
  • Approximately, 6 to 10% of new breast cancer cases are initially diagnosed as Stage IV or metastatic
  • About 155,000 people — women and men — are living with MBC in the United States.
  • MBC is the leading cause of cancer death in women under 50 years of age.
  • Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.