If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. - Woody alan
I remember the day as if it was yesterday. I was sitting in my dorm room a few weeks into my freshman year at Washington State University when my phone rang. Well before I had my first cell phone, I picked up the landline, bringing it to my ear.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hi, Mandy.” My mom’s voice echoed in the background.
“Hi, Mom, what’s up?” I asked.
“Mandy, I need to tell you something.” Her voice cracked. And then the three words nobody wants to ever hear, “I have cancer.”
The rest is somewhat blurry as she filled me in on the details. As we hung up the phone I sat, staring at the wall behind my desk and all I could think was; my mom is going to die from cancer.
This was nineteen years ago and a time when all I knew was cancer was a death sentence. And although my mom is still with us, the way I felt when I heard she had cancer for the first time has never left my heart.
And each time one of us is diagnosed, the same feelings resurface. And as much as my family has dealt with cancer, it’s never easy to hear the words.
It was only a few short years after my mom’s cancer that my older brother, then twenty-six, called to share his results too.
“Well Manda, it’s colon cancer.” He said into the phone from Texas where he was stationed as a Captain in the Army.
Colon cancer? Isn’t that…for old people I thought?
Little did we know how untrue this would be.
Less than a year and a half later, on the heels of desperate pleas from my mom, I went in for a colonoscopy because her oncologist was suspicious that this could be genetic. In my foggy haze, I woke to hear my doctor say, “Go get her mom and bring them back in my office.”
I didn’t know what it meant but I knew it wasn’t good.
Although it wasn’t full-blown cancer, the large polyp in my colon was in the last stages of turning into cancer and thus, was treated as if it was cancer. Four surgeries, one deadly infection, an ileostomy bag (which I no longer have), shunts and tubes and drains throughout my body, and almost 30 days total over the course of the year in the hospital and only a few short months later I got another call from my mom…
“Honey…I have colon cancer.”
Hands down the toughest year, chemotherapy riddled my mom with pain so severe, she almost quit. But she made it.
And we thought the “cancer years” were behind us after that. We really did. Only a year later we received a phone call from my grandpa, my mom’s dad, and learn that he now had colon cancer.
And then my grandpa, again…bladder cancer.
And then my cousin, Becca, who’s passing on December 8th, 2013, ten short months after being diagnosed with cancer left so many hearts broken.
And then our dear friend Greg. My stepdad’s best friend, who was more like a brother, was diagnosed shortly after that and after three years of fighting, passed away last October 2017.
And then me. Metastatic Cancer of an Unknown Primary source. What does that even mean?
I lay this all out for you to see clearly not for you to feel sorry for us but so you can see why my family is exhausted... It’s been almost two decades of nothing but cancer.
So cancer, please, leave us alone.
But I know better. I know better to cry out such demands.
Because on Tuesday, September 25th I got a call…
“Mandy,” my mom’s voice, hard and stoic, “Honey, I have cancer again…”
So here we go, once again...
And we will keep you posted as she wins this battle too.
Because she's a warrior now.
She has no other choice.
Prayers and positive thoughts welcomed always.