Sunday, August 2, 2015

All About My Hero....

So, I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, but it's hard to put into words the emotions and feelings that I am having.
This is My Mom. And she is my Hero!

This picture perfectly describes our relationship :) This was the night of my graduation in 2006. Before any of her health issues had really set in. Before the REAL trials and Struggles had started. Sure we had our ups and downs and our petty arguments, and Mom, besides a blip in life when she had melanoma cancer, and a few other health issues, had pretty much been okay! As a family we had an amazing life with tons of blessings full of good times with family.
In 2008 Mom was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancers. She had to go through Chemo and have a hysterectomy. Anyone who has experienced a loved one or has gone through chemo themselves knows how awful it truly can be. You are sick for almost an entire week, and right when you're starting to feel normal again, you have your next round of Chemo. On top of that comes the hair loss, and you just never know when it's going to happen. For Mom, she woke up from a nap and found hair all over the pillow. I personally have never lost my hair, but I know that I am just enough attached to it that it would be something that I would truly struggle with, my vanity is something that I already struggle with, it's not just the hair on your head you lose, you loose your eyebrows, your eyelashes, you often have bags under your eyes and it takes all your energy possible to even function.
Most importantly to remember, at this Time my older sister and I were both moved away from home and my younger sister was only 15 and barely learning to drive. My mom would get up at 5:30 every morning and take my little sister to her early morning seminary class, sometimes because of how sick the Chemo made her she would have to throw- up in the parking lot, take a nap and wait to take my sister to school, other times my sister would come home from school to find my mother with her head hanging in the toilet, as a 15 year old there are things you shouldn't have to do for you mom, but my younger sister did them anyways. A lot of people don't give my sister the credit she deserves during these hard times with my mom.
Most people only ever saw the happy and courageous Dianne, the one that everyone saw at church on Sunday with either her wig, or her head wrap, smiling and singing along with the congregation. This was the first time any of us really saw what my mom was made of. FAITH! The woman has faith in The Lord, more than I have ever been able to express. Not to mention STRENGTH!
Fast forward, Her Chemo is done, she has recovered from the Hysterectomy and we are all ready to have all the health issues behind us.
Mom's hair had Just started to grow back and as you can see we were all very excited!
Its the Summer of 09 I'm home from College, and because of the effects of Chemo, Mom's immune system is super low. She developed a light cough, that wouldn't go away. We took her to the doctors office, and they prescribed some medication, they also took a chest X-ray, but it showed no sign of pneumonia. One week later she was worse, I mean WAY worse, Dad was out of town on business and my younger sister, Stevie was up in Durango, CO. with some friends. I woke up one day in the beginning of June and went to see if my mom was feeling better. She was looking extremely swollen and couldn't really talk or form full sentences, we took her to the Urgent Care, where they found that in just one week her lungs had filled with fluid and she had pneumonia, not only that they rushed her to the hospital because the pneumonia had gone septic and her kidneys were starting to shut down. I followed the ambulance to the San Juan Regional Center ER, and called my dad, he was on his way home but wouldn't be here for a about 3 hours. Thankfully, my dad had called my moms Best Friend and she was there to help me answer questions. It had never occurred to me that I should memorize the medications my mom is allergic to, her birth year or any of that information. Tammy (Moms Best Friends) was a lifesaver. I remember those few moments alone like it was yesterday. We were taking off all of moms Jewelry to make sure none of it had to be cut off because of her swelling, I remember all mom wanted and kept asking for was some water, but due to ER rules she could only have a few ice chips, I could see the stress and fear in the nurses eyes and even though I knew they were doing everything they could, even they were worried, she was practically sent straight up to the ICU. That night she was given an amazing blessing, and then she was put into a medical induced coma. We all waited. My older sister, Lisette, and other family came from everywhere possible and a week later the doctors had told us that by the next day she was either going to start getting better, or worse. If she got worse, she would most likely pass away. We all gathered in a consultation room and said a prayer. The power of the Gospel filled that room and everyone present could feel the comforting hand of our Father in Heaven. The next morning we heard the best news any of us ever expected to hear. She was doing better. The next month and a half was a struggle, My younger sister and I would wake up, and go to the hospital, come home, get food for Dad, and go back to the hospital, there was never more than half a day that went by that my Dad wasn't right next to my mom. It was a long hard summer. I think one of the toughest moments was the realization that because moms lack of motion, some of her muscle tissue was dying because the pneumonia had settled. Her fingers and legs were in threat of being amputated. Anyone who knows my mom, knows that life without her hands would destroy her. She paints, cooks, and decorate wedding cakes.

My mom lives to create beautiful works of art. While my mom was still in the coma, Dad had to make the hard decision to have her toes amputated. after a few days, She finally woke up! It was amazing! To see the life back into her eyes was the most wonderful sight to see!  She would smile and try to communicate with her eyes. We loved every minute of it! Then she even was able to leave the ICU! we got to be in a regular room with regular patients! That felt wonderful! during the recovery my mom was informed that she had suffered from severe kidney failure and that she was going to have to do dialysis until, or if even, her kidneys ever started to function normally. At first mom couldn't speak and she would try and mouth words to us, I was okay reading her lips, and my older sister couldn't do it at all! But my younger sister (practically mom's clone) was the best and could usually always communicate with My mom. When mom first woke up she was always thirsty, but the nurses told us she could only suck on a wet sponge and she could only have one every few hours. Mom was not satisfied with that, and she would try and get us to giver her more than she was allowed. Stevie and I were sticklers to the rules, but our older sister couldn't handle the thought of denying my mom anything, Mom used to give us "the eye" or put her lip in order for us to give in. One day I had left Lisette with Mom alone, and I had reiterated to Lisette that mom had already had her sponge of water and that she couldn't have another one for a few hours, then off I went to get us all lunch. When I came back, my older sister was facing away from my mom not looking at her, when I asked her why she said that she couldn't stand Mom's pout face and was going to give in if she kept staring her! - Finally they day came, when the Dr.'s explained to my mom that she had two options: She could keep her legs and do physical therapy to try and learn to walk without toes, but even then they don't know if her leg muscles/tissues will be able to support her or if the muscle tissue was dead, or she could have them amputated, start physical therapy and be walking for sure by the end of the year with her prosthetics. Mom and Dad both spent the day praying and they came to the conclusion that she would have her legs amputated so she could get back to regular life sooner. She went in and had the amputation surgery. When  she was out they told her that she had made the right decision, because when they did the surgery they found that most of her leg muscles and tissue were dead and that he legs wouldn't have been able to support her. Another blessing. All through this mom had her good and bad days. She had days where she was determined to do everything people thought she couldn't do. and then there were days that that she felt an extreme loss that not many people could understand or relate to. Here is where my story changes. I stayed with my mom and helped for about 6 months during her recovery process. Something a lot of people don't know is that Phantom Pains are real. Although the limb is no longer there, the nerve endings at the site of the amputation continue to send pain signals to the brain that make the brain think the limb is still there. Sometimes, the brain memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain, regardless of signals from injured nerves.

 That's not the hardest thing about losing one or in mom's case both limbs. Can you imagine if you couldn't do everything you ALWAYS could do? Imagine waking up one day and having people tell you that you can walk but not with an ankle or moving toes. (anyone whose taken anatomy knows how important your ankle and toes are when it comes to walking) Sure, she could get some seriously high tech springy prosthetics, but has anyone ever looked into the price of those?! Mom's first set of legs alone cost upper 10,000, her second set even more... and I mean a lot more, so as encouraging as people think it is to say "did you see that girl on dancing with the stars with those cool springy legs?  She was awesome!", people don't take into account that prosthetics aren't free and they are no-where near cheap.
 Not to mention having to learn to drive with hand controls, loading up a wheelchair anywhere you go just incase your legs can't take long distance walking. And Grocery shopping? Forget about it...... Yet my mom has learned to do all these things and now 6 years later, her pain tolerance has risen and she can do so much more than we ever hoped. And we are grateful.
There are things my mom deals with on a daily basis that people cannot possible understand, and yet, Even she has said that she wouldn't walk a mile in anyone else's shoes, because you never know what other people are going through. Other people don't have the AMAZING support system my mom has. Family, Friends, and Doctors have been amazing to our family and without Everyone's love and support and most of all prayers, there is no way we could have survived that hard time our family went through. We love everyone so very much!

Then most recently. In March of this year, Mom was Diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and then shortly after we discovered that she had a genetic disorder commonly known as "Lynch Syndrom", an autosomal dominant genetic condition that has a high risk of colon cancer as well as other cancers including endometrial cancer (second most common), ovary, stomach, small intestine, hepatobiliary tract, upper urinary tract, brain, and skin. The increased risk for these cancers is due to inherited mutations that impair DNA mismatch repair. It is a type of cancer syndrome.
This at least explains why mom has had so many different types of cancers. After doing Testing, we learned that My younger sister has this Syndrome, as well as my Aunt Kim. My older sister and I do not have it, and it does not skip a generation so we do not have to worry about our future kids. What this means for my younger sisters is that she will get regular check ups earlier than most people. all it means is early prevention which is a GOOD THING.

Mom had her Double Mastectomy in June and is recovering awesome from it! she came out with good spirits and the nurses and doctors and genetics counselors there have treated her amazingly!
After some CT scan results came back we found out that she has 3 cancerous nodes around her kidneys called liposarcoma. It's a malignant tumor that arises in fat cells in deep soft tissue, such as that inside the thigh or in the retroperitoneum. Liposarcoma is a rare type of cancer that bears a resemblance to fat cells when examined under a microscope. So far, the plan is for mom to go through her chemo rounds for the aggressive breast cancer, and keep watch on the nodes until they feel it is safe to perform surgery. So here we are again with lots of stress and pain. This time we know what to expect with Chemo and although that can give us peace of mind, it can also make us extremely sad to know what the side effects are and the pain and sickness that mom is about to go through. On top of that Chemo can be very hard on kidneys, especially since moms are already weaker than most people. She will have to be very care and stay very hydrated in order to not have to start dialysis up again. So now that I have come to the present time I want to say this.

My Mother is MY Hero! She is POSITIVE. She can sit and smile and laugh with us even when she is in pain and laying in a hospital bed, she can make jokes and pick on herself about all the nicknames we give her such as "turbo" "speedy" "Legoless" etc. She laughed when she was bald and we called her Elmer Fudd, she plays with her nubby's and has a sense of humor that can make strangers feel awkward but people that know her can laugh with her about the situations she is in and even lighten her load. I don't just call my mother my hero because of her strength when it comes to her physical illness's, She is my hero because of her strength in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and as such we believe that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and takes care of us. Throughout my entire life my mother has been the most amazing example to me of having pure faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. She has always shown me how to live my life in a way that is pleasing to The Lord, and although I have not always found it easy to live up to the standards, she has always encouraged me and loved me no matter what my choices were. She has been through more than what some people go through in a lifetime, and she could have found it easier to blame The Lord for her trials, she has instead turned to him for help and guidance during the hard times in her life. She is a happy and positive person. She has her days and moments where she just can't see a way out, but eventually she finds peace and joy and is able to overcome. SHE IS STRONG. SHE IS HAPPY. and SHE IS MY HERO.

Although she may be broken physically, with a few parts and screws missing, but we know that SPRITUALLY she is whole. In our family's mindset that is all that matters. I'm grateful for the example she is to me and I know that she is a fighter and will come through this cancer just like the last.
xoxo aubs