This blog is unique.
It is not all about me, my wisdom, my cute crafts or successful recipes. In fact, most times this blog has nothing to do with me looking awesome.
I try my best to #KeepItReal and connect with other women, but I have only had so many experiences and can only reach so many people with them. Luckily, I am surrounded by moms/women with beautiful stories.
I have determined to use space to bless more women with the bravely shared stories of others.
There is something so beautiful in knowing that you are not alone.
Hello to all of the beautiful Moms in Social Media land!
When Christen messaged me and asked me if I would like to write something for her MOMentous section, I was so honored. That quickly turned into- “Well, what do I write about?” I told Christen that I had no idea what to write about and she suggested that I write about life, my life, my experiences.
So…I’m going to try to take you through this last year of my life and part of what I have learned. I apologize in advance for the lengthy post…
A little background story for you…
Me-I am a married (10+ years) Mom of 4 handsome boys (Seth 12, Kamron 10, Carson 5 and Jaxton 2). I also work full time as a correctional officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
My Mom-Joleen, has been my best friend and biggest cheerleader for as long as I can remember. She was at all of my dance recitals and awards ceremonies as I grew up. She held my hand as my oldest son was born and was as excited as I was when the doctor announced “It’s a boy!” She was there every time I called to ask for “first time Mom” advice. She was ecstatic when we announced the anticipated arrival of 3 more boys and she loved them as much as I did (if not more!)
My Mom was a smoker up until Christmas Eve 2013. She began having trouble breathing back in 2006 and was diagnosed with COPD and a condition called Alpha-1 Antitrypsan Deficiency (which involves the lungs and liver. This also began weekly plasma transfusions). She was placed on an oxygen machine that she used 24 hours a day. She was also told that she would have to have lung x-rays done each year, just to make sure things weren’t getting worse.
In the fall of 2014, my mom got a cold that just would not go away. The cough seemed to get worse over the coming months and when she went for her lung x-ray in late January 2015, they discovered a mass. My Mom went to her respiratory doctor and was asked by his assistant if she had been in contact with an oncologist.
At this point, my Mom knew that something was wrong, but not the extent of it.
Towards the end of February 2015, my Mom sent me a text and asked me to bring my family up for dinner as she wanted to talk to me about something important.
(At this point none of us knew about the mass in her lungs).
We went to my parent’s house for dinner on the 28th and my mom told me that the x-ray showed something in her lung but they weren’t sure what exactly it was.
I was crushed to say the least, but hopeful. She had had x-ray’s done when she first got sick (October-ish) and everything was fine, so even if it was cancer, it couldn’t be that progressed-right?!
March 27, 2015 my Mom went in for a biopsy of the mass in her lung. I had worked the night before (10pm to 6am) so when I got home I took a short nap. When I woke up, I took a shower and got ready to head to Bakersfield to visit my Mom. I called my Dad beforehand to see if my Mom was still in surgery or whatnot. He was crying when he answered the phone and my heart sank.
Cancer in her left lung.
(Another little piece of info…For as long as I can remember, my parent’s “time” was 11:11. Any time the number eleven came up it brought a smile to my Mom’s face. Well, when I called my Dad, I unknowingly called him at 11:11).
I cried, hard, for quite a few minutes. And then, I decided I had to be strong for my Mom. I dried my tears and we headed to the hospital. Once there, I tried to keep my emotions to myself (she had been strong for me for so long, I had to do the same for her).
She was in good spirits, considering. She had some reactions to being under sedation so they kept her overnight and she was allowed to come home the next evening. She tried to contact her doctor to find out more information on the severity and such of the mass but her doctor was out of town for a couple of weeks.
April 9, 2015 I went to my Mom’s to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. She told me then, that she had talked to her doctor and was told that she had approximately 6 months. She told me that if there was anything I needed to know, I needed to go ahead and ask her.
All I could come up with was “How do I do this without you?”
She told me that with Faith and God I would be fine.
Next thing we knew, Hospice was showing up to take care of her. Weekly massages and counseling appointments but her transfusion appointments were canceled. She called numerous times to find out what she could, and it seemed as though her doctor had no interest in helping her. She made an appointment with an Oncologist for consultation on her options. She asked me to go with her and my Dad and of course I went.
Her appointment was on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. We got to the office and I filled out her paperwork (as she had done for me numerous times). When we were called back, the doctor introduced himself and proceeded to tell us that when the biopsy was performed, not enough tissue was obtained to find out what stage the cancer was or even what type. All we knew was that it was lung cancer. He told my mom her options, she wasn’t strong enough to go back under sedation so her only choice was to begin a vitamin regimen to strengthen her system. Once that was accomplished, they could do a PET scan to see if there was cancer anywhere else in her body that would be easier to test. We were sent home to mull it over.
Saturday, May 2, 2015, I was on my way to do some shopping in Lancaster. I had just gotten to Avenue I and my phone rang. It was my Dad. He said that my Mom was going downhill fast and that he had called Hospice. He told me to hurry back so that I could be with her, so I did. That was the longest drive I’ve ever taken. I prayed the whole way (and I’ll admit, I cussed at the cars that wouldn’t get out of my way), that my Mom would hang on.
I made it to the house and she was drifting in and out. While she was awake she tried to talk. She told me that she worried about me and hoped I would be okay. She also worried about my Dad, their bills, and the house. I told her that everything would be fine. We would handle it. The hospice nurse showed up and gave her a small dose of Morphine to help her breathe a little easier. Within about an hour, my Mom was back to “normal.” She was able to talk and was definitely having an easier time breathing. We were able to get her into the living room and visit. Around 8 or so, she said she was getting tired so the kids and I left.
The next morning, at 11:13am, my Dad called. All he could say was “She’s gone.” I was in shock, and I couldn’t contain the tears. I packed my boys into my car and went to my parent’s house (they live 2.5 miles away from us). My Dad said that he was chatting with my Mom, she was having trouble breathing again but she was communicating as best she could. He went to the kitchen to get some tea and when he came back she was gone.
She passed away at 11:11am on Sunday, May 3, 2015.
My Mom was my best friend, my confidant. I told her everything. The good, the bad, the embarrassing, the funny, literally everything that I wanted to share with someone, I shared with her. She was “my person” and now, when I needed her the most, I didn’t have her.
I thank God for not letting her go through the painful stages of the fight. It just about killed me to let her go, but I wouldn’t have wanted to see her in pain and discomfort.
My point in sharing this part of my life is that so often, we get caught up in our day to day lives and we don’t see that our parents are aging. We like to believe that they will be here forever and we neglect to see that each day with them here on earth is a blessing.
I’ve gone over all of the “what if’s,” the “I should haves” and the “if onlys.” Yes, things could have been different, but this was God’s plan. He knows what He’s doing and although it hurts, there is a reason. God needed an angel
and I can’t argue with Him on that.
So please, if you’re reading this, call your parents. Tell them you love and appreciate them and all they have done for you.
I understand that not everyone has a good relationship with their Mom and Dad. If that’s the case, figure out who it is that has made such a difference in your life, a grandparent? Step-parent? Aunt or Uncle? Whoever it is, appreciate them.
Thank you Desiree for sharing your heartbreaking story. I will be praying for you as you continue to figure out life without “your person.”
If any of you have a story you would like to share… Please contact me! Let’s bless people with the story of our lives… it turns all that pain into purpose.
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