We are going to give this a try, but know that none of us claim to be writers in the family (except for maybe Ben and he’s pretty good)!
July – December 2014
Mom and Dad were living it up, both kids were out of the house (again!) and they were enjoying their time together. I (Emily) was living in Charlotte, NC and had just started a new job in July and Ben had been living in California for four months at that point. At this time, Mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Once we all knew what her diagnosis was and processed our new normal, Mom put on her big girl panties (her words!) and began her treatments with so much strength and perseverance. She endured 5 of her scheduled 6 rounds of chemotherapy. Ben came home for Christmas that year and it was the first time he had seen Mom since her diagnosis and it was truly special to witness their reunion in the airport.
March – April 2015
Once she recovered from the chemotherapy, she had a unilateral mastectomy. We received the all clear that her pathology report had come back negative and she was for all intents and purposes “in remission”. The next course of treatment was for her to undergo radiation, so she began those treatments and that was a piece of cake compared to everything else she had endured.
October – December 2015
Once Mom’s radiation was complete we spent the summer traveling and spending lots of quality time with family and friends! Dad, Mom, and I visited Ben in San Diego and had a wonderful visit. We saw so many great sites, spent time catching up and laughing, and just truly enjoyed spending time together. After we returned, Mom noticed that she was having some balance issues and headaches. She scheduled an MRI towards the end of December just to make sure nothing was going on with her brain. Mom’s oncologist informed us that she had five lesions on her cerebellum, which were affecting her balance.
January – September 2016
Over the past eight months, Mom underwent whole brain radiation, had a shunt implanted in her brain to relieve swelling, and finally received stereotactic (targeted) radiation. The radiation treatment did shrink her lesions a bit, but her symptoms remained the same. She/we were comfortable with her walking around the house unassisted, she liked to say, “I’ll just bounce off the walls if I start to sway!” We had all gotten in the habit of holding on to her when we were out and that worked really well – Dad said that they had probably held hands more in the past eight months than in their entire 32 year relationship! Towards the end of August, Dad decided to take time off from work and he and Mom spent their time together traveling to Blowing Rock and Chincoteague Island. As we planned to go to the Outer Banks, Mom noticed that her strength in her legs had weakened. Mom was admitted to Duke on Friday, September 9th. That weekend we received Mom’s new and final diagnosis. Mom’s cancer has spread to the membranes around her spinal cord. She was discharged home on Sunday, September 11th and admitted to Duke Hospice.
We are all still in shock and processing our new normal, but Mom’s unwavering strength and her sense of humor has not faltered once. Ben is now living at home, he moved back to North Carolina a week before Mom was admitted to the hospital. Dad and I have both taken time off from work and will be by Mom’s side for as long as she needs us.
We knew all along that this was going to be a difficult fight for Mom as her primary diagnosis was an aggressive type of cancer. Each of us has had our moments, but Mom is such a strong woman and is so pragmatic that she has been our rock throughout all of this. For those of you that know our Dad, you know without a doubt that he has also been our rock. Mom and Dad compliment each other so well – Mom is the sassy, fun-loving, independent, Type A personality, while Dad is the laid back, cool, calm, collected, hilarious one-liners, “should be on Jeopardy”-type personality. They are truly one of a kind and to witness them endure all this together has been both heartbreaking and uplifting.
We will do our best to update this regularly. Thank you for all your kind messages we have received throughout this entire process. We know you are all keeping us in your thoughts and prayers and that means so much to us! ~ Glenn, Carol, Emily, & Ben