Cancer. Our modern day plague.
It’s a word that’s rolled off my tongue daily over the past year and a half as an oncology nurse. But now, just hearing the word triggers fear. Five days ago, just before her 55th birthday, my mom Sherry, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Suddenly my world is changed. Will my mom, my best friend, soon be a weak, nauseous, wig-wearing woman? Will she be around to see my kids be born and married? Then my nurse instincts kicked in and I got to work. I never pictured my life without her being a huge part of it, and I don’t plan on that changing.
The surgeon removed and biopsied the 2cm tumor. Now her primary care physician wants to remove the sentinel lymph nodes (the lymph node(s) that “drain” the tumor) and biopsy it to determine the stage. Even if the tumors come back negative, removing them could prevent recurrence.
But after finding out about the side effects of lymph node removal, which could result in lymphedema and pain to affected arm, my mom wanted to see if there was another way to find out if the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, such as MRI, PET scan, or thermogram. We’re still looking for the answer to this question.
The biggest decision she has to make right now is what type of treatment she wants. She’s not sure if she wants conventional or holistic treatment. Luckily, I’m friends with Leslie Parrilla, a young Californian news reporter for Press-Enterprise in Riverside, CA. Leslie herself survived breast cancer using a combination of hyperthermia and low-dose radiation, a kind of midpoint between conventional and holistic medicine, and did a great deal of research on different treatments and cancer centers. She’s given me a list of the best of the best from one extreme to the other — aggressive conventional oncologists to the extreme holistic treatments and everything in between.
Leslie also brought me to the annual Cancer Control Society Convention in Los Angeles, ironically four days before my mom’s diagnosis, where I was exposed to what seemed like infinite alternative treatments and doctors gave 30-minute lectures about their specific therapies and success rates versus conventional therapies all day for three days. Between the list that Leslie made for me, and all the therapies I learned about at the convention, I have my work cut out for me.
Being her daughter, I know I’m biased, but my mom is the most beautiful person I know. She loves with a vulnerable, open heart; laughs with her whole body; gives the most painfully honest advice; and has a child-like playful side that will have you smiling about things she did long after she’s done them.
Perfect health is the only option. I want my mom to be completely cancer free as soon as possible. I feel blessed to have so many resources at my fingertips, but I’d always appreciate any prayers and/or advice anyone would be willing to share.
I will keep you updated on her condition and everything I learn on this journey.
Are you interested in sharing your cancer story? Let’s get started! lumpycards.com/share-your-cancer-story