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How Did We Get Here?

hope0310's picture
Posts: 324
Joined: May 2010

The Talking Heads asked that....and I have many times.

For years.....46 exact, I would hear of someone I knew, someone I used to work with, old family friend, friend of a friend of friend.....whoevever...who one day was full of life and vibrant and the next day....the dreaded C word. How? Why? Never understood.....until March 1st, 2010 @ 3:20.

Last week of February....my young 66 year old mom, who had retired 13 months prior, re-done her entire house, added the inground pool of her dreams.....went to Houston to visit her SIL... her brothers widow....a brother who past away September 2008 of lung cancer. The same brother who quit smoking 27 years prior after a favorite uncle died of pantreatic cancer....

So,mom comes home the last day of Feb....something is wrong..she is slurring,but does not realize it. Her balance is out of whack...but she does not realize it.

Monday March 1st, my stedad takes her to the doctor,she had refused going to the ER the previous day.....too bad, GP sends them straight to ER. I get the call and rush down there.
Mom asks...What are you doing here?? Because you are mom, because you are.

Tests,test and tests.....we are thinking she had a stroke. Mom tells us she had a horrible headache the whole time she was in Texas.

3:20. March 1st..."Folks it is worse than a stroke...you have cancer in your right lung that has spread to your brain".....Everything goes BLACK...........

Biopsies and tests confirm...SCLC, 5cm tumor in upper right lobe.....20, yes TWENTY mets to brain.

March 3rd - start WBR
March-30th -started Chemo
March 31st - cannot walk - Med Onco sends to ER and refuses chemo
March 31st - spread to thoratic spine...no big deal per rad and med Onco....Spine rad starts..
April 28 - back to chemo

Scans and chemo continue,scans of brain and spine great!!!
Chemo ends.....trouble walking....test and retest...not in spinal fluid, no medial reason that she is unable to walk.....

July 13th - REMISSION!! WHOOP!!
Still cannot walk -so off to inpatient rehab.

Aug 5th - tell my stepdad to take mom to onco......seems like she is backsliding..
Aug 6th - ALL BLACK AGAIN - cancer is back in moms brain . . no further treatment.
Aug 9th - Mom comes home under hospice care - doc says 4-6 weeks.

Me,my brother and stepdad (who is 48 at that time - yes. mother was a cougar!) . ..we all tell work see ya later~~

Mom was with us about 7 weeks. She was never in pain....and passed away holding my hand @ 10:20, Thursday September 23, 2010.



Be good to yourselves......I am trying.

catcon49's picture
Posts: 398
Joined: Aug 2008

I had a similiar experience with my best friend. In January of 2007, her right arm was bothering her and swollen. Dr. dx her Feb. 28th stage 4 lung cancer. 1 radiation treatment. They remove fluid from her abdomen. Next day she was sent to emergency room, and never came home. Died 1 month after dx. I credit her and my mom for saving my life. After my friend passed away I began going to my family DR. for a yearly check up. Kept trying to quit smoking, with not luck. After my mom was dx with ovarian cancer, my doctor was very diligent and caught the lung cancer very early. 1 1/2 years after my friend passed and 6 months after my mom's dx. Please be careful with your own health now. Get yourself check by your DR. I see more and more cases of family histories with certain types of cancer. My family has the BRCA 1 mutation also mutation in BRCA 2 gene, but they can't attribute that to any particular cancer yet. I know that sometimes it feels like we are in a whirl wind, that everything happens so quickly. I hope you find peace, after losing your mother. I still have mine and I am very grateful for that. Take care and God Bless.


soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

(Talking Heads reference)

I join catcon and, I am sure, others in expressing condolensces for your loss. The question you ask, I think, is not so dissimilar to ones more familiar to me: Why me? Why us?

My answer, for what it is worth, is that it is what it is.

By that I mean that cancer, for all of its catastrophic results, seems to have one commonality among all of us: it has no bias. It takes the rich, the poor, black, white, male, female, all ages, all sexual preferences, all religious and a-religious, all nationalities, all professions. And it seems to have no regard for timing, as you point out.

It is what it is. As a biological event, as it were, it cannot be unfair or immoral. It does not think. It merely DOES. It takes us, it takes our loved ones, it takes our friends, it takes our co-workers it takes the relatives of those we care for, it takes our heroes and icons, and it takes people we never knew and never will know, but whose loved ones will be hurt as much as you have been hurt, nonetheless. Whether it is environmental, behavioral, or genetic (or some combination of these), it gets what it comes for, in general.

And it takes more than that, too often. If it does not take us, it sometimes takes our well-being, takes our happiness, takes our security, takes our very relationships at times. It takes our naivite, it takes our innocence, it takes our sense of immortality, it takes our very lives, in a sense, as they become so very different, whether survivor or caregiver.

If we let it.

This is the one aspect of the experience we CAN have control over, I think. We can insist that it NOT take our hope, our humor, our lives, our relationships from us. We can do whatever we need to do to ensure that there is at least one positive result of the cancer, that we RELISH in this new-found understanding of our mortality, and that we live in a way that celebrates our lost loved ones (or even the near loss of ourselves).

We can NOT let cancer have more than it is biologically designed to take.

This ain't no disco, this ain't no party, that's for sure. But if we can get through it, as survivors or as caregivers, with the ability to move on as NEW and IMPROVED human beings, we will have prevented it from taking what it is not designed to take, and we will be much better for it.

It is not easy: This ain't no fooling around. But with some personal and sincere effort, we can do it, hope. I see it in this joint every day, marvelous examples of people refusing to let cancer have what they insist it cannot have.

I wish you the best.

Take care,


Posts: 25
Joined: Sep 2010

wow that was truely beautiful what you wrote!

Posts: 25
Joined: Sep 2010

I am so sorry for your loss

mamacita5's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

Joe you are such a talented writer, you should write a book about this journey called Cancer.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

mamacita, my friend, tracy, thank you for your kind words.

Take care,


stayingcalm's picture
Posts: 654
Joined: Feb 2007

Wonderful post, Joe, as always! Everything I believe but don't have the words for, thank you :-)

luz del lago's picture
luz del lago
Posts: 452
Joined: Jul 2010

I often read your posts, here as in other threads. Your words run deep. Sometimes I must return to a post of yours a second time. Today, I did. I read this post. It really sunk in this time.

At first I nodded, YES, this is what I had shared with my love! Don't let the Beast take away "us"! Don't let IT steal whatever time we have together by keeping your mind, your heart, your soul from me! As in everything we had done together in our lives, this too, we could do together, no matter the outcome. Take my hand, let's love, laugh and cry together.

He spent so much energy being in denial, that towards the end, he had little left for anything else. He believed that if he even entertained the idea that an end was approaching, whatever will and determination would be stripped from him. I often told him that I felt that it was in acceptance (it is what it is)that we could move forward. See things for what they were. A beautiful, sunny day to take a ride, a walk. A gloomy, cold and rainy day to snuggle by a fire. And although I would "set up the scenario" as it were, for us, I could sense he could only think of one thing, this cannot be happening, I am not going to die!

Since his passing, part of my grief is that he, and I'll say, in my heart, missed so many opportunities to revel in joy and happiness. He never was able to make peace with himself. I now hope that where his soul is, he has found that peace.

So, now I re-read your post, and now you are talking to me. That I not let the Beast take my life! Who I am, what I can contribute to this world while I am here. Not always an easy task, as the wound is deep and painful. I hear you, "it is what it is"!

The best to you,


Posts: 84
Joined: Nov 2005

Great post Joe, cancer cannot take our pride. I have been reading your posts for sometime, you and others have been an inspiration to all of us don't ever stop.

Posts: 17
Joined: May 2010

Elysia I am so sorry to here of your loss . Our stories are not so different I took my mom to the Er on Christmas Eve 2009 with the same symptoms we thought she had a stroke but it was nsclc and a tumor in the brian . She was draging her left side and begged me to let her just get through Christmas but I thought she had a stroke and would be ok . This Christmas she was crying as everyone left and we were all crying too but she didn't know that until my ten year old asked her why everyone was crying(heartbreaking)She had the tumor removed in the brain but they said they wouldn't touch the one in each lung . Chemo radiation we all know the drill to well, progress was made one tumor went away the other one shrunk but now more cancer in the lungs, oxygen , loss of mobility, fractures in the spine , we just had more mri 's of the spine but no results yet.I am at a loss of what to expect. My mother is my best friend I understand what you are feeling and don't know how I will deal with the pain you must be in. If possible remember one dream of hers she did not complete and complete it for her. That's what my mom wants me to do after my dad died we went on a couple of vacations together her favorite was mexico so I promised to go back . I wish you hope and peace .Live Love Laugh thats are best revenge against Cancer. Jean

hope0310's picture
Posts: 324
Joined: May 2010

....and be their legacy!! That is our jobs now huh Jean?
So sorry about your mother as well.

It just SUCKS!! I hate cancer.....

Be good to yourself.

karenbeth's picture
Posts: 194
Joined: Sep 2010

I had the same experience with my partner...called 911 because I thought he was having a stroke. Turned out to be a seizure caused by mets to brain, stage 4 lung cancer. He will soon be finishing 1st line treatment...WBR successful, now doing chemo, last MRI showed a couple of small new spots on brain, but they say he is "stable." I was in a state of shock for some time, now trying to maintain a sense of optimism balanced with a sense of realism about his prognosis. He seems to be handling it better than me!
Your mother was lucky to have you; I hope it helps to know that her passing was eased by your love and the love of your family.


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