Cancer has an incredible reach in all our lives. You can’t interact with your network of family or friends and not bump into someone that has a direct story, tragic or positive, to the wake of cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, specifically in the CrossFit community we support Barbell for Boobs to help raise funds to pay for mammograms for women that can’t afford them. Though my story of cancer is not Breast Cancer, I have been robbed by cancer nonetheless. Jamie asked me about a month ago if I would write a blog story relating to my personal experience to cancer. I said I would, I’d love to share my story but I had no idea how hard it would be to look through old photos and sit down and begin typing.
My dad has Leukemia, and has lived with this cancer since early 2003 that we know of. He’s never had a single treatment, cancer just sits in his blood in waiting. December 2009 however, was the beginning of the most painful experience I have ever endured. We had many years to prepare for my dad to get sick but that didn’t happen, instead my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I didn’t know much about pancreatic cancer at the time other than it’s not good. I’d mention to friends that my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and they would look sad and ask how long did they give her? My initial reaction was wtf?! It can’t be that bad, we live in Seattle and we have good cancer treatment facilities with world renown doctors, and the advancement of cancer treatments have come a long way so surely it will just be a tough fight but we’d come out of this winning. Her first oncologist, to which I refer to as Dr. Doom and Gloom, offered no such hope and told my mom to get her affairs in order that she probably wouldn’t make it to too long after December, but she can be made comfortable. This was the moment that I first felt fear in such a deep way that it rattled my spirit to the core of my soul. For those that knew my mom, they would describe her has compassionate, caring, funny, witty, dependable, always would listen and be quick to pray for you, she was the glue of my family, I have 4, yes 4 brothers and life is CRAZY with us and our families but my mom always had a special way of connecting with each of us and getting us all together. As an adult my mom was my friend and my first go-to person in this world for any news good or bad.
This is how I remember my mom, San Juan Capistrano, CA 1983.
I remember blogging about this on the Kirkland CrossFit website that December, more of an outlet for me and to give an update to our then smaller community of maybe 100 members. We had one member who had gotten a 3 month free membership at a local charity event who was in month two of his 3 but home with a back injury. He was up late one night and went through all our previous posts and landed on the post of my mom, he sent me an email that forever changed the path my mom was given. He worked in the medical community and specialized in a specific surgical product that my mom would need if she would have any hope of extending her life. An excerpt from his email;
This is one of my favorite pictures. Rebecca and Janette have been mentors in my life for nearly 30 years. In this pic I have the 4 most influential women in my life in one room, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all of them.
Til the day I die, this will be my favorite picture. Lori would read to my mom everyday a passage from the devotional Jesus Calling. At first my mom would interact with Lori when she would do this, slowly over the days and weeks weeks it would turn to just a smile when Lori would ask if she was ready for a new page then just raising an eyebrow, and finally no response.