In 1997 I asked my OBGYN to send my Mom an appointment card to get a mamogram. Why? She hadn't seen a doctor since 21 years prior when she gave birth to my baby sister. Her first mamogram revealed the very reason she had avoided it. A 2cm malignant tumor. Two lumpectomies and four opinions later I helped her make the decision to have a radical mastectomy (right breast). I thought as the doctors told us, with this aggresive procedure, 6 months of chemo and 5 years of tamoxifen that she had a less than 5% chance of it moving to the other breast. And...that was all correct.
Early 2003 my Mom (pictured right, best friend's mom left) started complaining about back pain. Her GP told her she was overweight. She got more aches. Her shoulder, hips, legs. She felt light headed, her memory shot. The problem? "You are very overweight, pulling muscles and you're tired". Then she got numbness and burning in her foot and toe. Her GP ? "You have a severe ingrown toenail". Her abdominal pain worsened. "Mrs. Wenger, You keep pulling muscles from because you are overweight!"
Finally (mid 2004) I had enough of her LOSER GP and I was going with her. "Don't upset the Doctor" my Mom cries. Again with the "overweight, oh, and by the way I forgot to mention your Mom has Gallstones". Now I asked "Are you sure this isn't from my Mom's cancer?". Answer "Yes". "Are you 100% percent sure and will you write that in her notes?" Answer "No"
Next month will be THREE years since my Mom was diagonosed with Metastatized Breast Cancer. If you met my Mom you would have no idea. Tumors all over her body and skull. She's three inches shorter from the cancer eating her spine. The numbness and burning in her foot, a tumor hit a nerve. The miracle drug Arimidex shrunk all my Mom's tumors. Seeing my Mom's MRI with black spots everywhere...and then they start shrinking. But now, THEY'RE BACK!!!! The Arimidex is no longer working, we're trying another drug faslodex. The side effects are horrendous. She's really have a hard time. But she's always laughing, she still wants to help with my three girls. And, were going to VEGAS next month.
Why is Jennifer sharing this? My Mom is one of my best friends. She oozes unconditional love and fantastic advice. She's always laughing and can even find humor in my BI-Polar father that drives us all nuts. I'm not ready for my Mom to be sick. I'm not ready to lose my Mom. I love my Mom so much.
I don't want to make you sad, or stir up hard memories. But, I care about you. You are my inspiration, my livelyhood, my friends, mentors and peers. I want you to take good care of yourselves. For the people like me who need you. A little bad news today may prevent years of pain and sickness. My mom had stopped her treatment early, her fear kept her from being proactive. Her fear kept her from her oncology check ups.
In addition to regular check-ups and mamograms please keep your minds healthy. Stress and worry are toxic and lesson the successful recovery from any illness. Don't sweat the small stuff.
It's true. If it already happened or hasn't happened yet...forgettaboutit! AND BY ALL MEANS ENJOY TODAY AND SMILE. Call that sister that drives you crazy, tell your kids you love them (even the ones you don't speak to), tell your parents thanks, forgive that ex-husband, buy those PRADA sunglasses, climb Machu Picchu, don't obsess about the stock market, don't hate anyone, eat a big steak, get a massage, live right, be charitable, say good morning to person getting your coffee.
Do whatever makes you and the people around you feel good. TODAY. And, thanks for being there for me :)