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Kitchen Sink

One Way or the Other, I Want it to be OK (UPDATE: It *is* OK!)

September 8th, 2010

I’ve had mammograms every year since I was 30. That’s 11 years of mammograms. Once or twice, something suspicious was found, but quickly dismissed, and I go on for another year hoping I’m OK. I watched my mom die from breast cancer, and each time I enter the breast care center, I sense her spirit with me, holding me up as we did her in the final days. Each time I go inside the medical building, I cry.

 

It’s been 22 years since my mom was first diagnosed. She was 47. Her breast, ovaries, and uterus were removed. Her tumor was fed by estrogen and so the course of treatment was to take out all obvious hormone makers. I remember her grey face most of all when I visited in the hospital. She didn’t look like my mom. But she recovered from the surgery and was apparently cancer-free. Depressed, anxious, sad, yes, still I thought she was all better.

 

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February 22, 1989

My family acts like I am well now. I’m back to being a full-time mother. Cooking, shopping, laundry, bills, errands. And I am only 47 years old. My body is mutilated. I shopped for a prosthesis — that was hard — that was another long time and energy consuming mess which still isn’t resolved. So I went to Nordstroms to buy my fake breast. They didn’t have the right size. While I was sitting in the dressing room alone, my salesperson made telephone calls to other stores. I sat there, looked at myself in the mirror and fought off the tears. It was a real low point for me. I wanted to be sitting there waiting to see if a new dress or outfit was in stock, not a new fake breast.

 

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In 1990, I graduated from college, celebrated my mom’s 50th birthday with friends and family and went on with life. She did, too…moving to San Francisco with my dad and living in the city where they’d met and married. It was a happy time, because my parents had realized each other’s worth after some years of taking for granted. They held hands and laughed more than I’d ever seen before. I moved to Chicago and my mom sent me supplements and literature telling me to take care of myself. She didn’t want me to be sick like she’d been.

 

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January 1, 1990

Hey, I made it to the ’90s. Last year I wasn’t sure that I would — I may not see the end — but at least I’m here for the beginning.

 

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It was 1996 when I received the phone call from my parents — one voice on each extension. My mom’s cancer had returned — this time to her bones. Seven years ago, the radiologist picked up two shadows on her sternum and backbone, but declared them not a concern. But that’s where the cancer was. And where it stayed.

 

She died on November 10, 1997.

 

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The last page of her journal carried these words, written by her father:

Life is eternal the good Lord said, so do not think of your loved ones as dead. For death is only a stepping stone to a beautiful life we have never known, A place where God promised man he would be eternally happy and safe and free. A wonderful land where we live anew, where our journey on earth is over and through. So trust in God and doubt him never. For all who love him live forever. And while we cannot understand just let the Savior take your hand. For when death’s angel comes to call, God is so great and we’re so small. And there is nothing you need to fear. The faith in God makes all things clear.

 

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She believed until the end that God was waiting for her. Most of all, I remember the rosary she clutched; the one I carry now.

And so tomorrow I go for an ultrasound to check a breast mass my doctor found today. And I think of my mom, I think of my mom.

 

And her faith that wherever the road led, it would be OK.

 

UPDATE: All went well. More on that soon.

 

On September 8th, 2010, The Zadge said:

Sending you HUGE prayers and BIG bouquets of good luck!!!!!!!!

On September 8th, 2010, JenniferfromLaJolla said:

She will be with you. And you will be with you. And if you call, I can be with you too. I will be just down the street, so easy for me to come by, tell a nasty joke (do you know the one about the dog and the bar?) and head on my way again.

Sending you lots of love and positive vibes.

On September 8th, 2010, Common Ā¢ents Mama said:

Oh how I wish I could be there with you to give you hugs and support. I’m sending prayers your way.

On September 8th, 2010, Laurie Ann said:

Positive vibes are being sent southward. And I am scheduling my mammogram today (or tomorrow because it’s after 5 and I’m sure they’re not open).

On September 8th, 2010, Sherri said:

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Your mother is with, as is God. But you already know that.

I recently(in June) found out that I too have a mass in my breast… a large one on the right and a smaller one on the left actually. I go back for a follow up mammogram this month… they want to see if it has changed at all.

I don’t know you but my thoughts and prayers are with you…

On September 8th, 2010, Smalltown Mom said:

I’m crying right now. Sending you all my love and hopes for a good outcome.

On September 8th, 2010, Ami said:

I’m sending my good thoughts your direction, too.

Please keep us posted.

On September 8th, 2010, Kel said:

Good thoughts and positive vibes coming your way. Please keep us posted…
~K

On September 8th, 2010, Jenn @ Juggling Life said:

I am crossing everything for you. If you need anything . . .

On September 8th, 2010, stephanie (bad mom) said:

I can’t say anything useful.
<3

On September 8th, 2010, Trish said:

Keeping positive thoughts for you!! I know it is impossible not to worry, but remember the boobs get lumpy the older we get. Hang in there. And please let us know as soon as you know.

On September 8th, 2010, Jill said:

You brought me to tears. TEARS.

Thinking of you today, tomorrow. Hoping and praying that all is just fine. Just lumpy. Just saggy like mine.

*wink*. *hugs*. *xxx*

On September 8th, 2010, pauline said:

That was utterly beautiful. Wow. Hugs, prayers, and positive thoughts, hon. I am so with you in spirit.

On September 8th, 2010, La Jolla Mom said:

*Tears*

But that is true, you know, either way you will be ok.

ahhhhhh….wine necessary soon. Turn off your phone if you want like privacy or something. :)

On September 8th, 2010, Corina said:

A touching tribute. Will be here, holding your virtual hand. Much love to you.

On September 8th, 2010, foradifferentkindofgirl (fadkog) said:

And I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow. This is beautiful writing. Pure and simple and very beautiful. I know this has the potential to torture your mind. I was there earlier this year, and thought it was fine then, I still find myself wondering for how long. For how long will it be fine? I want it to be fine forever. I want it to be fine for you, too.

I’ll believe it will be.

On September 8th, 2010, Red Lotus Mama said:

Oh sweets! I am sending you all kinds of positive thoughts and prayers. I go in for my first mammogram this month. My aunt died of breast cancer 19 years ago. Please let us know how it all turns out. xo

On September 8th, 2010, Morgan B. said:

What a beautiful post. I just found your site through Twitter. I’m a San Diego Momma too. I’ve been reading through your posts and they are all amazing. This though, was my favorite. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way. Keep us posted.

On September 8th, 2010, Ali @PickleSugarPlum said:

Wow. Just WOW. Thank you for sharing your mother’s writing with us all, and for being brave enough to write about your fears. I had a scare (again) not long ago, and was too chicken to post about it.

I am thinking of you, and sending you warm love and hugs. Please call on me if you need anything…anything at all.

On September 8th, 2010, Theresa said:

I love you. I’m here if you need me. Just phone call or tweet away.

On September 8th, 2010, Celeste said:

I just wanted to say, thank you for sharing something so personal and I’m sending love and positive thoughts your direction.

On September 8th, 2010, mommypie said:

Huge hugs Deb — I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow, Momma, and sending nothing but love and light your way.

Have I told you lately I miss you??

On September 8th, 2010, Shana said:

Hugs, love and good thoughts are all focused on you right now. I lost my mom to breast cancer as well and have had a jazillion mammograms. Sometimes with no issue, sometimes needing follow-up. I know exactly how you feel right now, and I’m sorry. Because it sucks. xoxo

On September 9th, 2010, De said:

You wii be. You’ll be ok.

Much has changed in 22 years.

On September 9th, 2010, Ooph said:

You are in my thoughts today (as you are every day) but BIG BIG hopeful and prayer filled thoughts today.

On September 9th, 2010, Mama Mary said:

I want to hug you and sing you my rendition of “Everything’s Alright” from Jesus Christ Superstar. I love you and am thinking of you.

On September 9th, 2010, Kizz said:

I want to tell you a joke to think about while you’re getting ultrasounded. But I can’t think of one.

Just…love.

On September 9th, 2010, green girl in wisconsin said:

Good luck. And your mother’s faith is so inspiring. I hope you’re clinging to it, too. It helps. Trust me.

On September 9th, 2010, Trish said:

Tears running down my face now. Geez Deb. I don’t have anything useful to say except, I will say a prayer for you that all goes well! <3

On September 9th, 2010, jessica said:

It goes without saying how much I love you. I would be happy to have tons more guys never call me back and abandon my ass then have to have you go through this crap for even a day.

xoxooxoxoxoxoxo

On September 9th, 2010, Christina said:

You know I am thinking of you today. Hugs.

On September 9th, 2010, Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said:

Tears in my eyes, prayers in my heart and so much love for you.

On September 9th, 2010, melissa said:

hugs and major positive thoughts. it’s rosh hashana. you’ll be fine. xoxo

On September 9th, 2010, stephanie said:

Walking through these hard moments in life makes is stronger in the end. Cliche, right? But it’s so true! And I hate that it’s so true! I’m sorry you had to walk through that, and sorry you have to go get your boob squished tomorrow : ( I guess I should start getting that done, too, since I have lots of cancers (breast included) in my fam.

On September 9th, 2010, Brenna said:

Thinking about you tons today!! xoxo

On September 9th, 2010, Mel said:

Beautiful story as sad as it is.
We’re praying for you!

On September 9th, 2010, The Frugal Hostess said:

I am thinking of you as hard as I can.

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