23 years ago my mom wrote a short journal during her battle with cancer. I found it after she passed away. This is for those who knew her, for those who are fighting cancer, know someone who fought cancer, or who know the powerful bond between a mother and her daughter.
I am sharing this today not out of sadness but at a place of healing knowing she is always with me. And she is very proud of me.
“March 1, 1995-The beginning of a new challenge. I’ve been told that 1995 was going to be great year, good changes. Well change is the operative word here. It changed when I was told I have a tumor on my kidney that has also spread. Change and challenge. I am now facing one of the biggest challenges of my life. How fast you are snapped into reality after you just been knocked out into space. Even in these first five weeks I have learned a lot and no doubt will be learning more. I feel I will be fine through this but it doesn’t always compensate the fear of the unknown. The first four weeks of all the tests and waiting for the results were hell. A living agony. All the way praying to God to give me the strength , keep me strong for the biggest fight of my life. There is a reason for everything. I firmly believe this. I remember praying to God that my life would change not so long before I learned I have cancer. I felt my life was leading no where fast, but knew I had a purpose in this life but was always praying for that answer. I remember a psychic telling me that the worst thing that happened to me would end up being the best thing that ever happened and I would see my grandchildren. I remember thinking that was nice of him to throw in he grandchildren statement since it was not a question I asked him. Or another saying she sees me having a sickness around the stomach area but I’ll be alright. All of these coming like sudden revelations back to me. I remember stopping at a church before I knew the results of my biopsy. Praying for the strength deep down knowing the results. I knew with one word my life would change. I wanted a change. I asked that I would be healed mentally, physically, and spiritually. I have survived pain and change in my life before. But I also always felt I am here for a purpose, but unless I made changes in my total lifestyle I could never reach this goal. Everyday I get strength from God to forge ahead. Everyday driving downtown to Harper Hospital and the real treatment hasn’t even begun. I did have one radiation treatment. I remember feeling like you only see this in the movies or hear of this. I was actually going through this! I had Dr. Foreman ask me if I ever asked myself why I got this or if I did anything to get this. I said yeah, mostly I am still in shock. He says nothing just bad luck and now we need to work on getting you some good luck. I think of the doctor telling me I am healthy, a great heart, great lungs, but you have cancer. So much to absorb sometimes that you get tired of thinking of it. Every morning waking up and realizing this is not a bad dream. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I don’t want it to be clouded up with thoughts of Monday, when I have to be admitted for my first treatment of Interleukin 2, hoping to be the 20% who respond totally the first time. I pray I don’t get the worst side effects. I’m just so happy it’s not chemo. That scared me the most. But the therapy doesn’t seem like it could be a breeze. I pray it’s not that bad. Talk about anxiety. Everybody at work have been great. I sometimes felt like I was trying to keep their spirits up, like they have more fear than I did. My family, well I don’t really know how they feel. Probably fear for me. This touches all of them. But I know how they feel, because I know how I would feel if it was one of them. Tracie is doing ok, but I know she doesn’t show a lot. (Me: That was truth. But also I was in great shock and fear. And I didn’t want my mom to know how afraid I was that I was losing her). We will be fine I know it. God will be our carrier through this for both of us. I’m so glad she is going to be seventeen instead of little. (Me: It was just as hard because I knew her, our bond was strong, and she was my best friend). I don’t think I could handle this. God only gives you what you can handle and nothing more. What I have to do is put my trust in him and let him do his work. I can’t worry, it will help nothing. Easier said than done. Right now I am in my day three of treatment. I think it really hit me that I have this disease. Being admitted in the hospital made everything real. A big reality check. So far the treatment itself has not been as bad as imagined. I just have to let them help me. I’m not used to hospitals ad having all the time on my hands. All this time to think. I talk to Tracie everyday so that helps. I miss her but talking to her everyday helps a lot. Shelly being here everyday has helped a lot too. It really means so much all my family calling has been nice. I talked to a nurse here today Sarah and she says they have pretty high hopes that this treatment is going to work. I hope so. I know it will. It’s kind of overwhelming. Real overwhelming! Dr. Redman came in just now. He is really amazing. I feel real good around him. He is a very good and compassionate doctor. He reminds me of David Letterman. Not at all what I expected. He says I’m doing very good. I really believe in him. I really did luck out getting him as a doctor. If you think about it I really have been blessed finding this and all the doctors who supported me. I feel so comfortable with Dr. Redman.
April 27, 1995-I was just thinking as I am relaxing at home in between my treatments. I feel so abnormal. Like all of a sudden I don’t belong. I feel sometimes that I am on display. Being watched. Labeled with the C word. Everything happened so fast. It’s like my life is being blown out of the water and I am waiting to land. The treatments were not so bad. I don’t like hospitals. I can just say it was uncomfortable and I had a lot of anxiety. Also you lose control. Feeling sick when you didn’t want to. Will I ever feel normal again? I know I will but I have to be patient. You have to get some control or you really feel like you are losing it. I think having this week off in between has given me a lot of time to think. It has kind of been depressing because I am not used to having all this time on my hands. I don’t want people looking at me and thinking sick! I know that this too shall pass. It’s to be expected. Plus the weather hasn’t been great and it plays a lot on your mind. People have been so nice. I have a lot of nice cards and gifts.
May 1, 1995-Well have had my second treatment and it has been 6 days since my last dose. Things went pretty smooth at the beginning but the side effects came on pretty hard around Wednesday and Thursday. I missed only two doses which is pretty good. I really hope this does a good job. I just can’t think of going through this again. I want to feel normal for once. It has been a month and I still have a temp and I am working on the water weight I have to lose. It is finally starting to come off my legs. It took longer this time than last time. Well I was on a large dose and I did end up getting more Lasix and cough syrup. The coughing is finally going away from the fluid on my lungs. Fun, fun, fun! ”
Written by Renee Paula Clayton(a brave and beautiful soul)
Love you Mom!