“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
Mother’s Day is today, and I’d like to say a very sincere “Happy Mother’s Day” to all the moms out there. Our job is sometimes tough, yet rewarding. And as Munsch pointed out in his much loved book, “Love You Forever,” no matter how big they get, they’re always our babies.
But sometimes, Mother’s Day isn’t about us entirely, it’s about the children that we’ve raised. For me, this Mother’s Day is a tribute to my children Aubrie, Elyse and Dakota and the three years that they’ve taken care of me.
You see, in October of 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My doctor, Dr. Roderick Quiros, gave me the news. I took to calling it “When Lucy fell.”
November 23, a few days before Thanksgiving, I had my right breast removed and a third of my left one was taken as well. Tests of my lymph nodes revealed that I was at Stage 3, with a bullet. Thirteen out of 20 nodes tested positive for the disease. It was nearly to the point where it would have metastasized.
At the time of the mastectomy, Dr. Quiros recommended having a tissue expander inserted after the breast was removed. This is to aid in reconstruction, which is done after chemo and radiation is over.
Then, on December 24, I began running a fever which spiked to 104.5. By the 28, after several days of high fever, pain and massive swelling, my plastic surgeon, Dr. William Morrissey, decided to reinsert a drain tube. I was operated on again on December 29 and we discovered that the situation was worse than we’d imagined.
During the original mastectomy, I’d contracted the aggressive infection called MRSA. Dr. Morrissey reported that it had eaten the tissue expander and followed that by commenting that he’d never seen anything like it. Swell, first my real boob tried to kill me, now its cousin was giving it a shot. I had to go through two more surgeries followed by an extended stay at the hospital before it was finally quelled.
But my journey wasn’t over yet. I had to go through the maximum amount of chemotherapy and radiation they give at one time. And when that was over, I began reconstruction surgeries.
Due to all the problems with the tissue expander, Dr. Morrissey recommended that I see a micro surgeon. He felt that would give me much better results. I went to Fox Chase and have been well taken care of by Dr. Neal Topham. I had a procedure called a DIEP, where they took tissue and skin from my lower abdomen and fashioned a new breast that hopefully bears me no ill will and won’t try to take me out.
The neat part of this procedure is that it results in a tummy tuck. If you’ve ever had a C-section (I had three), you’ll understand why a tuck was the best thing to come out of this whole ordeal. I still have one more surgery, but it’s minor and is for cosmetic purposes. I’m looking forward to getting it done and for this to truly be over.
During all of this, my children were amazing. My kids chauffeured me everywhere. I was never alone in the chemo ward; there was always a kid type sitting next to me for the hours it took each week. During radiation, they took turns driving me 20 minutes each way, Monday through Friday, for six-and-a-half long weeks.
On the few occasions that I felt well enough to get out, one or all three of them accompanied me. They wouldn’t let me push a shopping cart or pick something up off the floor. They were so vigilant, I began to call them my “Mommy Nazis.”
After surgeries, they set up a system that tracked what time I was to take which medicine. If I so much as mentioned something that looked good, they’d dive for the car, go to the store and give it to me before I even finished the sentence. They cleaned the house, made lunches and learned how to do laundry. They even gave me a bell - really.
Now that I’m feeling better (I still have pain issues due to neuropathy), I’ve been reviewing the past three years, and feeling very thankful. Thankful for my husband Matt, who watched my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes fall out, saw me without a breast, and helped me with drain tubes. Yet, he still called me the most beautiful girl in the world. Thankful for friends who brought dinner after dinner to our front door. And thankful for three beautiful children, Aubrie, Elyse and Dakota. Children who took on the mantel of “mother” and made my season in Hell bearable; and yes, often times funny.
So this Mother’s Day, please give your children the best gift you can, schedule your mammogram. Don’t let the fear of temporary discomfort result in years of illness and heartache for your family. Even though they love you, it’s difficult to be the one who’s being taken care of, instead of the way it’s supposed to be.
As for me, my kids have showed me how much they love me and what lengths they’ll go to keep me around. They’ve given me a glimpse of what my future will hold and blessed me with the security to know how much they love me and that they’ll always take care of me.
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Tomorrow, schedule your mammogram.
If you’d like to read all the details of Lucy’s battle with breast cancer, you can read her award-winning blog, “The Brunette Lucy vs. Breast Cancer – And Cancer Can Suck It.” If you have any questions about breast cancer, please feel free to use the “email the author” button above or leave a comment below.