I wrote this sometime in January. I got the okay to publish, today. Thank you for patiently waiting for more details.
Today, I held my mom as she vomited at 2AM. I held back my own tears so that I could repeat the mantras I pray to be true: You are strong. You will heal. This is temporary.
I rubbed eucalyptus oil on her temples and sang a lullaby. I logged meds. I made bone broth for sipping. I set up transport and delegated meals and assistance. I made a med list, I sent medical history to new practitioners, I set up appointments, I provided updates on the group text of care takers. I packed my bag.
And then I cried. On a plane. While writing this blog post. My phone full of supportive texts. An overflowing to-do list. And, my heart full of both anger and the Shoreline City worship song, “How Great Thou Art”.
2022 has been a nightmare. It rolled in like a storm. And not the type of storm that resolves itself. One that will take active, intentional work, and has no end in sight.
My mom has cancer.
To be clear, Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. A tumor 4×6 cm in diameter decided to become symptomatic in December and by the grace of a spontaneous trip to the emergency room on January 28th, we had an answer.
If you have any past experience or insight or ability to provide expertise on Integrative Cancer experiences with pancreatic cancer, pearls of wisdom, cooking meals, or getting involved locally – please email me. This was my main reason for sharing. I believe so strongly in the power of community and connection.
It wasn’t diverticulitis or pancreatitis, after all. But a, likely, 10 year growth that has begun to finally shut down appetite, cause nausea, vomiting, and most of all – debilitating pain. Pain, that apparently, feels like labor pains, and makes me question my future as a mother, entirely.
(Side note: This is the only type of cancer that I have ever, professionally, worked with. First, in the hospital, and again, in outpatient endocrinology. A cancer I didn’t want to understand. One that still haunts me.)
Thanks to the urgency from a myriad of colleagues within the healthcare field, treatment started just 4 weeks after diagnosis. She had a MRI, CT, biopsy and port placement in less than 3 weeks. God moves, despite, my anger. He moves as:
- A cousin who happened to be charge nurse the night of emergency room admission, holding her hand every step of the way.
- A hospital who dropped their “no visitor” policy so she could have someone holding her hand through each treatment.
- A chemo nurse who grew up on the same street, a familiar face amongst the unknown.
- A surgeon who prayed with my mom before port placement.
- A surgeon who is in my family member’s own bible study.
- A nurse who told the story of her own son’s miracle – without prompting – and her faith.
- A chemo nurse liaison who happens to be the mom of my friend, walking my mom through the unknown.
- A family friend who just completed treatment with the same MD.
Almost every conversation I have had with potential care teams have italicized the importance of faith. Of prayer. Of a healing mindset.
It is really, very easy, to have faith and hope when you have a new house, bank thousands into savings, make six figures, live debt-free, have an amazing Christian friend group, and a loving marriage. That was my 2021.
It is another thing completely to have faith amongst the unknown. During a sudden and frankly, unfair, prognosis.
- It is very difficult to have faith when you learn that your only parent left may be lost to you, too.
- That your time as a daughter, may be much shorter than you realized.
- That your road, may actually, quite possibly, include the title of orphan before age 35.
- Before my first born.
- Before so many “firsts” that may now, never, come to fruition. A reminder that my plan is not His plan.
Faith, amongst the fire, is an entirely other type of story. Another type of strength.
I realize that my capacity to have faith at this time is only possible, and powered, by others who literally hand it to me daily. In a hug. In a text. In a daily scripture. In a curated prayer playlist. In a “yes Jesus” as I pray for healing. In a voice text from my prayer partner. In the red rims of my husband’s eyes. In the wet pages of my late father’s bible.
Faith, without community, seems entirely impossible right now. I stand here, broken, but hopeful, thanks to the hundreds of individuals who continue to say, “but, God”. Who continue to remind me of his ability to make all things possible.
As life moves forward, I have done all I can to strip down my life, my own needs, my priorities to the basics. My hours at Bitewell have been reduced. I am not teaching group fitness. My hours in private practice are less. I had turned away patients. I have increased the hours of my employees. My projects are almost non-existent. My self-care is short burst of 25 minute exercise. My travel plans are zero. My social life is mostly through text. My life is her life. I have no timeline.
My priority is her life. And for now, that is the only thing that matters. Because before I was an RD, a nutrition expert, a lead dietitian, a wife, or a friend – I was a daughter.
That is my update, for now. I lead with transparency, always. And, although it is not the role I wanted, I feel equipped for it. His strength has allowed me to do more this week than I ever thought possible. To pray over groups, prayers that were not mine, but His. I, er, we, have so much hope for the future. I refuse to let the staggering statistics be her prognosis. Because, she isn’t a statistic. My little mama has a great fight within her and an incredible team on board. Will will not stop with conventional medicine, alone. Nutrition matters. Mindset matters. New research matters. And we are doing it all.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it John 1:5
The exact verse, sent to my mama in a text, just a week before this shit storm all started.
Stay tuned. Watch Him move.