Giving Thanks

My mom had surgery on Thursday and had two-thirds of her left lung removed. Needless to say, I’ve been worried about her. It’s been a rough week, but I realize the concern and worry I’ve felt are nothing in comparison to what my mother has had to go through.

My friend Margie posted this as her Facebook status this week:

Margie is very grateful – nothing like a little health scare to remind me how very lucky I am

And it’s so true. There’s nothing like having a health scare of a close friend or family member (or yourself) to make you appreciate the time you have together.

Until just a few years ago, I didn’t think too much about health concerns. At age 25 I still had all four of my grandparents living. I had been to the funerals of great aunts and uncles and some older people from my church, but no one close to me had died. In 2002 and 2003 three of my four grandparents passed away. They all died within a year and a half of each other. Then, I entered my 30s and it seemed as if everyone I knew was falling apart; people my age were being diagnosed with all kinds of disorders and diseases. I expected as much from my friends once I hit middle age, but hearing about it so young came as a surprise.

In 2009 I was forced to deal with the fragility of life in a new way when one of my best friends was diagnosed with lung cancer. Amy fought hard and taught me to never give up, to keep learning new things, to keep smiling. I’ve written about Amy on this blog a few times before. I think of her often.

So, when my mom was admitted to the hospital this summer for what turned out to be dehydration, tests revealed several nodules in her lung. Knowing from Amy how serious lung cancer can be, I was rightfully worried. It was a long few months of waiting for doctors appointments and waiting for test results, and when she was diagnosed with a carcinoid tumor in her lung, I was again faced with the C-word. Carcinoid = Cancer. I was afraid to Google it. I was afraid of what I might learn if I researched too much into it. Fortunately, a carcinoid tumor, while cancer, is quite different from what Amy had. In the world of cancer diagnoses, carcinoid tumors are a pretty good kind of cancer. When they removed two-thirds of my mom’s lung, they removed the carcinoid tumor, the biggest nodule of particular concern. They also got a couple of the smaller ones. The original biopsy was such a small sample of the large nodule that they weren’t able to tell whether the tumor was typical or atypical. So yet again, we wait on test results. Either way, we’ve been told that they don’t treat this type of cancer with chemotherapy or radiation. She may be prescribed a shot that may help, but with my mom’s other health issues, knowing she will not have to endure chemo or radiation is a true blessing.

I’m not one who believes everything in life happens for a reason. Sorry, but I think that’s bs. God didn’t want those boys who were molested by the coach at Penn State to become stronger men by overcoming challenging childhoods. There are true tragedies like oh, say the Holocaust, that can’t be explained away by “everything happens for a reason.”  I have a hard time believing that was part of God’s plan. My God doesn’t work that way.

My mom already has several health issues, and I’m not sure why this happened to her – just one more thing. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s not fair. But, Mom is strong. As someone who has suffered from kidney stones for the last 30 years, she has built a high tolerance for pain, and I know she will fight her way through this recovery with the grace and humility she portrays daily.

It’s tough being so far away and feeling so helpless. Not that there was anything I could have done if I lived closer, but I just wish I was there to give my mom a hug before she went in to surgery, to keep her company while she spends the next 5 – 7 days in the hospital, to help around the house when she gets home.

It may sound cheesy, but I feel as if I value life in a new way now that I’m a mom myself. I may be celebrating Thanksgiving on a small scale this year. Tim, Adelaide and I won’t be surrounded by our families, but it will still be a joyous holiday. There is so much to be grateful for this year.

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  1. Kendra’s avatar

    What a touching entry… So many up and downs this year but you’re right,so much to be thankful for. Wishing your mom the best.

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