Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the fence

So I'm back at my parents place again getting ready for my mom's second chemo. Not a whole lot to write about at the moment, however I did want to share a wonderful image I captured. It's my father spraying down the fence. He's obsessed with everything that has to do with the house, and this is just another example. He actually rented this machine, and to avoid getting wet 'built' himself a suit of armor. No, your eyes are not deceiving you...this suit of armor is in fact a garbage bag. What's even better? He wrapped a baseball hat with a grocery bag to 'protect' his head.
Just a day in the life of an unsung hero.

Monday, July 15, 2013

In the thick of it

I never thought I would see the day I'd be taking my own mother to the hospital for cancer treatment. Her first one was exactly a week ago, and we spent over 11 hours there. When we arrived at the radiation area, sadly, ironically, my mom ran into a woman she knew. She has brain cancer, has had surgery, and getting both chemo and radiation. She was wearing a hat and when she took it off, the top half of her hair was gone and a huge scar ran from one side of her head to the other. Just another example of how common this horrendous disease has become. My dad and I stood beside my mom as nurses fastened a mesh mask to her face and slid her into a tube where she would be getting radiation. We watched from outside the room as she lay there, still, for 9 excruciatingly long minutes as the beams bombarded her cancer. From there we went to the cafe, ate, and proceeded on to get my mom's blood drawn. As we sat in the waiting area, I took note of how busy it was. Old people, young people. Some in wheelchairs, some walking on their own. Some bald, some with full heads of hair. One gentleman's face was disfigured and he had a stoma and voice valve. Everyone was chatting and laughing. A woman in a wheelchair and wearing a wig complimented my sandals. A man joked around about needing more of the "good stuff." A mother and daughter sat next to each other reading books. A weird scene, really, but somewhat "normal." And there sat my mom, among them. After another hour or so, the nurses directed us to the 3rd floor. The floor my mom was dreading. The floor where she would be getting chemo. We sat around and her best friend who's an oncologist came to join us, bringing gossip mags and sandwiches. My mom took a break to go to the bathroom and soon after she left her name was called. When she came back, the four of us walked in. A small army. Soon after she was seated in her own room and a flurry of activity began; introductions to nurses, what would be happening, what the time-frame was. I wrapped her in a prayer shawl my friend's mom had made for her and they began flushing out her system to prepare her body for the chemo. A nutritionist came in and had my mom list off all the things she does and doesn't eat. She's a good little patient; the only thing she really doesn't like is ice cream. Then they pumped her full of anti-nausea meds and finally the nurse came in with a large bag of chemo. Seeing her face as she wept and wanted to run away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to experience, but I squeezed her hand and assured her it wasn't poison; it was the medication needed to save her life. So she sat there, for hours and hours on end, while it ran it's course. We got her to laugh through her tears, and in those moments I realized just how much I love my mother...and how brave she is.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I’ve had my blog since 2011 and while I haven’t realized the dream of publishing my writing yet, I know I’ve reached many people and at the very least, made them laugh. It’s what I pride myself on doing. There is nothing better than to see another person’s eyes crinkling, tears streaming down their cheeks or hands clutching their stomach because they’re doubled over at something you’ve said. Comedic relief has been my savior in most of life’s trying moments…and so has writing. Because I’ve made such an effort to keep the blog lighthearted, I’ve been torn about whether or not to share my feelings about the reality of what my family and I are going through. While I have a tremendous support system, there are words and thoughts inside of me that can only be best expressed this way. The truth is: life isn’t always funny. There are times when it’s fucking hell, like when your mom’s doctor’s visit turns into a biopsy that turns into a phone call at work that turns into “I have cancer.” Since the diagnosis, the emotions have run rampant. Healthy distraction here, unhealthy distraction there. Prayer, no prayer. Sleep, no sleep. Move home, stay in Chicago. Cry, don’t cry. Tread lightly, be stern. Avoid the topic, be frank about it. Date, don’t date. Worry, don’t worry. Feel guilty and regretful, feel thankful and optimistic. Write…don’t write. Turns out, the latter was never really an option. I need it to summon the strength to help my mom. With that said, I’m going to document our experience. I don’t want to create a new blog solely to write about her illness because while it is horrible and scary, there is so much more beyond that: laughter. And love. Lots and lots of love.