In late January 2005, mom bravely endured yet another test, a bone scan, the week following her biopsy. The results were good and tough at the same time. The good news was the cancer was not present anywhere on the bone scan results. The tough part was she needed to be on chemo drugs for the rest of her life to stay alive. The same drugs that made her so sick, sick enough to go to the ER with dangerously low potassium levels. Mom decided she would try chemo again and if it made her sick, she would stop. She also chose to embrace alternative medicine, going to weekly acupuncture treatments and taking Chinese herbs daily.
Many people would have taken the news over the past couple of weeks of early 2005 hard and could have caved into a deep depression. Not Mom. She rose above it. The weekend following her bone scan, she spent a day outside building a new open space trail with one other person in her neighborhood. Part of mom’s passion was giving back, and what a great place to do it out in nature which she loved. Her strength and determination seemed to always overpower any illness, even cancer.
As Mom started the chemo, she became sick again. She was considering stopping the IV portion. Her doctor offered up an experimental drug as an option so she researched the outcomes. Even if this drug was effective, it would only prolong her life for about four months. No thank you, she said. With the alternative therapies, mom’s energy increased and she starting walking again. She researched special diets that might have helped prolong her life. She considered changing her diet, but saturated fats were such a favorite food of hers, and she was not willing to give that up. Mom wanted to live her life the way she wanted, even if it meant her time on earth would be shorter. She was so very strong, every step of the way.
Another avenue Mom pursued during this experience with cancer was trying to understand what the dis-ease in her body represented, especially since she had faced the evil ‘c’ before. She was an avid learner, always seeking to understand, and a voracious reader. Through her process, she captured thoughts in her journal. She came to believe that any discomfort in her body was a direct message to her about where she was out of alignment with her true self. That ‘guidance came in the form of discomfort, if she would only be still and listen’. Mom uncovered that maybe the quiet negative voices in her ‘noisy mind’ were part of the reason for the discomfort- negative self talk about what she needed to do, should have done, always second guessing quietly inside. On her journey to heal her body, she continued to learn about and try different types of healing and even visited with a Buddhist Monk who visited Austin that year. Along the way, Mom brought in new ideas and considered them, while balancing them with her strong faith and Christian upbringing- to her, faith was the great lever of life, and without it, man could do nothing, and with it, even as a grain of mustard seed, all things were possible.
I wanted mom to come visit Boulder in February 2005 but the chemo was making her hands and feet cold, so probably not a great idea. I knew I wanted to see her again soon and decided I would plan my next trip to Austin to be over a Thursday night so I could go with her and hear live music, at a new place she had discovered. In addition to spending more time in nature, mom was filling her heart with music more and in different ways.
As I processed the news of the first month and a half of 2005, I felt a little detached. I was still trying to understand why this time was different, how it was that mom was suffering quietly inside. And so unfair to happen to someone who gave so much, who loved deeply from her heart. As my reality sunk in, a new job opportunity surfaced within the company I was working for, one that held more promise than the last. A better fit for my skills. I welcomed the distraction and the promise of using my strategic mind again, and ventured into another interview process.
08/25/2012 at 4:15 am
As I have been following the purple butterfly, you can’t help but to think of your relationship to your own mother. In contrast, my mother had died in very quickly as though she taken from me. During my own journey of healing rather than watching one try to heal, I am so grateful that it is me and my family that endured the pain rather than her feeling any of it. No woman should have to feel not only her mothers pain, but her own at the same time. Each day I miss her dreadfully and can understand chronic pain of my heart. Sadly there is no known cure for heartbreak.