This is going to be my worst Christmas ever.
Last year was my best Christmas. Hands down. Even if I did get my heart broken by a silly boy. Want to know why? Because my mom - diagnosed with stage four lung cancer - lived. In fact, she got better. So much better that by the time it was mid-January, she didn’t even need to use supplemental oxygen anymore. It was a miracle.
In October 2011, my mom was diagnosed with the cancer. There were tumors everywhere. In her lungs. In her liver. In her bones. Even in her brain. The oncologist said she had less then six months to live.
I was devastated, to say the least.
Everyone told me (in private of course) that she wasn’t going to make it to Christmas last year. Doctors would pull me aside and warn me to be prepared. Not my dad. Or my brother. Just me.
It was pretty horrible.
And now, here I am. A year later.
It’s Christmas Eve, fifteen minutes before midnight (okay, it was 15 minutes before midnight when I started writing this). Before it’s officially Christmas. And I’m sitting in front of my computer drinking wine.
Because I know that things aren’t going well with my mom. She just finished 4 brutal months of IV chemotherapy. Essentially injecting poison into herself in hopes that it’ll kill off the cancer before it kills her. And according to the last body scan, she has 2 tumors in her lungs.
Compare that to Halloween, when the doctor said that all the nodules in her lungs were completely resolved.
Completely resolved people!!
That means there were no more tumors in her lungs. Nada. They were eradicated!!
I was so happy I cried the entire day.
But I guess good news doesn’t last long. End of November, during the second to last session of the treatment, I find out that there’s a new tumor on the upper right side of her lung.
Somehow, I clung onto hope. I was sure that the next appointment in December would be good news. Wait, no. I was absolutely positive that it would be spectacular news.
I genuinely thought the doctor was going to make the diagnosis that my mom was officially in remission.
Of course, that didn’t come to pass.
Not only that, but there’s a new “hot spot” in her lower left lung. The doctor tried to assure us that it wasn’t necessarily the cancer. It could be anything. We wouldn’t know until a few months down the line. Only time would tell.
The doctor managed to convince my parents that things were okay. That the new chemotherapy treatment was going to manage everything.
Too bad the “new” treatment my mom is on consists of the two drugs that have failed to keep her cancer at bay.
And who is the doctor trying to kid? If someone has lung cancer, and there’s a “hot spot” in their lungs, chances are it’s the cancer coming back. Not to mention the fact that there’s already a new tumor on the right side of her lung.
There’s absolutely nothing I can do but paste a smile on my face and pretend that everything is okay. Pretend that SHE'S going to be okay. Pretend that soon the rounds of torturous chemotherapy will be a distant memory. Pretend that my world isn’t falling apart once more.
I honestly don’t know if my mom understands what’s going on. What the new tumors mean. But I’m not going to tell her. Not now. Not during the holidays when she is so happy.
I’m not going to ruin that for her or the rest of my family. It’s the least I can do. I didn't realize how difficult it was going to be, to attend all the family holiday dinners, look each cousin in the eye, and tell them that "Why yes, my mom is doing wonderful. Thank you so much for thinking of her and being my emotional support."
I'm trying so hard to look on the positive side. I've had an extra year with her. 365 extra days she wasn't supposed to have. But it's hard. Almost impossible.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everyone. Be happy. Love your loved ones. Celebrate every day, because each day truly is a gift.
and maybe, if you have some time, send some happy thoughts my way.