Three years ago today I started on the steepest growth and learning curve of my life to date.
In an innocuous call to my parents to share a bit of good news (Husband had been promoted), my Dad told me that an opacity had showed up on my Mom’s chest x-ray. A C.T. scan revealed a tumor, and a possible lesion on her liver.
I will never forget how strained his voice sounded and how scared I was when he at first refused to tell me what was wrong and then finally told me. I will never forget calling my husband home from work and collapsing into his arms in tears. I will never forget waking up the next morning wondering why I felt so terrible only to remember: my Mom had Lung Cancer.
I remember looking down at my swollen belly and instead of feeling the familiar joy at the new life within me, I was gripped with terror that my Mom might not be around to see her grand-daughter, or any children who would come after her, dance and twirl.
Three years later I’m living the reality of that fear.
The learning curve, as I said, was steep. I started researching. I started learning. I found out that Lung Cancer is the number one cancer killer. Not breast cancer, not prostate cancer. Lung cancer. This year it is estimated that over 160,000 people will die from Lung Cancer. It will take more lives than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer combined. Contrary to popular belief over 50% of those diagnosed with Lung Cancer are former or never smokers. There is no reliable screening method for Lung Cancer, which means that the majority of cases are found in later stages when surgery is not an option.
Where is the outrage? Where are the activists? Why is this disease so buried in stigma that it’s not ok to talk about it except in relation to the evils of smoking?
I don’t have answers. I am encouraged though that little by little that is changing. People like Kathryn Joosten are championing the cause. Maybe some day Lung Cancer will be surrounded with as much compassion as other maladies rather than being met with a disapproving, “Was she a smoker?” Maybe some day there will be a reliable screening technique.
Maybe someday there will be a cure.
Three years ago I didn’t know what grief was. I didn’t know the pain of loving someone battling an evil disease. I was naive. I was oblivious.
I wouldn’t want to go back to who I was then. I wouldn’t want to lose the wisdom that this journey has given me. I wouldn’t want to go back to ignorance.
But I would to have my Mom back.
Today I am easing into ‘the new normal’ of life without my Mom. I am raising these beautiful girls without her support or guidance or even the privelege of seeing the joy in her eyes as she gazes upon them. I think of her each and every day. I wish for her each and every day. I miss her fiercely.
***For more information, to donate money, or to find out how to help visit The Lungevity Website.