I was going to be posting this next week, but with my mom’s unexpected passing this last weekend, I thought it was something that would help some people today. It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to write about next week (I’ll just push this week’s to next week’s), but this last Thursday, I went and visited my mom who had just gotten home from three weeks of cancer treatment for two weeks of down time. The next morning this quote popped into my head that I had seen quite awhile back. “What Cancer Cannot Do” although so simple, has a huge impact on my outlook for this journey we’ve been on for nearly two years.
In August of 2016, my mom was diagnosed with Salivary Gland Cancer. It’s a rare form of cancer that forms in your salivary glands. If you are unfamiliar with your salivary glands, they are glands that make saliva and then release it into your mouth. When they found out she had the cancer she was in between stages two and three. Radiation is something that can increase your risk of salivary gland cancer, so that form of treatment was out of the question. They weren’t wanting to go the surgery route because the cancer was intertwined with her facial nerves as well as she would have needed pretty extensive surgery and skin grafts and such after removal. We have also seen many cases (with other family) for when air reaches the cancer from surgery, the cancer spreads like wildfire. The other conventional route was chemo and even though we weren’t wanting to go that route either, because there was a greater chance of it not working on her type of cancer than helping; later down the road she did take small doses of chemo which helped some in slowing the growth of the tumor. Salivary Gland Cancer is a very aggressive cancer and doctors didn’t think she would make it past July of 2017. She started out doing some natural treatments that others have had success with, but just when it seemed like it started working, the cancer would show its ugly head and start growing again. (That’s what it seemed like to me anyway.) Switching up treatments seemed to work for awhile, but then it started growing again. This seemed to be the case with everything they tried and poured money into. The tumor kept growing and caused my mom tremendous pain and she had troubles talking with eating being a challenge as well due to the cancer invading the insides of her mouth. Even towards the end, her doctors told her that she looked far better than other patients that had gone through the surgery and whatnot. That was always a big encouragement, but her body was getting weak, and tired. We knew God had a plan, and even though we didn’t know what that plan entailed, we knew we could trust Him and knew that things would work out in the end one way or another.
My mom had just turned 50 in November of 2017 and has a husband of 29 years. Together they have 5 children, me being the oldest at 24 and the youngest being 13. They also have a son-in-law as well as a almost 2 year old grandson and another grandchild on the way.
When I started writing this about a week ago, my mom was still with us. So you can imagine how hard it was for me to pick this back up after she left this world to be with our Savior not even two days after I started this blog post. Turning present tense words into past tense was really difficult as well. She departed this life on March 31st at 4:57 p.m. very peacefully. I was really wanting to be there for when she took her last breath, but for some reason God wouldn’t have it that way. We had an ICU waiting room filled with many dear friends and three of my siblings were out there visiting with them all. One of my sisters has some health issues of her own, and I left the room to help her get through her attack and not even ten minutes later I remember my uncle coming through those doors and I just knew. I mouthed “Is she gone?” to him and he nodded. My heart shattered into a million pieces as I whispered it to my sister and she totally crashed. I tried my best to stay calm and keep collective thoughts and a together composure while my heart was breaking inside. My mom was gone and no longer needed me, but my sister was still here and needed all of me. I find it comical to a point that my mom waited to let go when all us kids were out of the room and she was with just my dad and uncle.
We will be laying her to rest on Saturday April 7th and will have a Celebration of her life. My mom was loved by many, not just family and touched many lives in her 50 years on this earth. She was wanting to start a blog about her journey, but was never able to. When I told her that I had started one, she was ecstatic and so supportive of me. She told me of her plans of starting one, but just never got the chance to. She wanted to help people who were going through the same area of life she was. So I hope with this post, even though she will never read it, that I have made her proud and done her journey justice minus all the little details.
So without further delay, this is my personal experience with what cancer can’t do.
1. Cancer Can’t Cripple Love
Throughout this almost 2 year journey, my dad stuck by her side through it all. The vows “For better or for worse, For richer or for poorer, In sickness and in health” really defined them. I only hope that my marriage with my husband can be just an ounce like my parent’s, especially when we endure hardships like they’ve had to go through. The way my dad would look at my mom, even with her face swollen and deformed by the cancer growing on the left side of her face, was true love. He loved her, still does, but his love never faltered at the face of hardships. I’m grateful to have had that example modeled for me and my siblings so well.
2. Cancer Can’t Shatter Hope
Even though the cancer was still making a comeback, we had hope that God would heal her. Granted, He didn’t heal her in the way we all would have hoped, but healed her nonetheless. Towards the end, seeing her in so much pain was truly difficult. I told God if he were to heal her by taking her, I would be okay with that. I know she is no longer in pain, and dancing with the angels. She is having a sweet reunion with her parents, 2 brothers and she has a grandchild up there to take care of and nurture for me until I get there myself. We had hope through it all.
3. Cancer Can’t Corrode Faith
My mom’s name was Faith, so this can go two ways. The cancer couldn’t destroy the Faith she had in God nor did she let it destroy her. She had Bible verses and encouraging quotes posted all over her room. Even when the times got tough and she didn’t know what to do next, she looked to God for answers. She never got bitter at God or ever turned her back on Him. She always told us that whatever happened was God’s will and wanted to make sure we wouldn’t turn bitter with her passing. Everything was going according to His plan, and it didn’t matter if we liked it or not. Even to the end, she had faith that it would all work out one way or another and we had that faith too. Now we have the faith that we will see her again someday. She is up in Heaven watching us, rooting for us, praising our Lord. Her faith never wavered through this entire journey and it shone to everyone who knew her.
4. Cancer Can’t Destroy Peace
In the beginning it was hard to imagine my life without my mom. Still is to a point because every now and again I have the urge to want to text her and ask her something and/or tell her something exciting that was going on. Towards the end the idea of losing her became not as bad. She was in tremendous amounts of pain, and I hated seeing her like that. I asked God on many occasions to just take her already so she wouldn’t be in pain anymore. I got okay with the thought of losing her, because I knew where she was going and that I’d see her again someday. There’s just this peace that you get when you are a born again believer that I can’t imagine not having as an unbeliever when someone passes. Even though we mourn the loss of our mom, we can rejoice in the fact that she is with our Savior and many other loved ones being reunited. I’m not saying that it isn’t hard, because trust me, it is. It’s just the peace that God gives you simply makes things easier and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
5. Cancer Can’t Kill Friendship
Oh this is a hard one. I am so blessed to know many incredible women who stepped up in big ways to help my mom in these past couple years. There were some who stayed with her during her treatments that were 3 hours away from home these last few months when my dad wasn’t able to be there. There were some who were prayer warriors for her and encouragers. Some who helped prepare food for my family, and many others who have helped in various other ways. I would probably be here all day listing them all. Their friendships are ones I long for, unbreakable no matter what life throws at them. I just hope they all know how much they are loved and appreciated.
6. Cancer Can’t Suppress Memories
I love the fact that we have a ton of memories of my mom that we can hold on tightly too and pass down to generations to come. Cancer can’t take that away from us. We have photographs, we have keepsakes, we have our memories that are stored tightly into our brains. That’s something I’m looking forward to at her celebration of life. We plan to open it up to anyone who would want to share any memories they have of my mom. You can bet I’ll bring a box of tissues with me, but I’m looking forward to it!
7. Cancer Can’t Silence Courage
Everyone who knows my mom, knows that she had a ton of courage. You kinda have to, to take a leap of faith and follow God’s plan sometimes. Lol
8. Cancer Can’t Invade The Soul
It invaded many other areas of my mom’s body, but that is one thing that it can’t touch. My mom’s soul is now up in Heaven with our Lord. It was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.
9. Cancer Can’t Steal Eternal Life
Like I’ve said throughout this post my mom was saved and will be spending eternity in Heaven. Nothing and no one can steal that away from you!
John 10:28-29 NKJV
“(28) And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
10. Cancer Can’t Conquer The Spirit
When sin came into the world, so did cancer and all the other types of diseases. Nothing can conquer the Spirit, that’s like a given. Some people ask, well if God is such a loving God, why does He allow bad things to happen? He allows it to make us stronger, to test our faith. I can’t wait til the day where sin has been demolished, and Satan destroyed.
Romans 16:20 NKJV
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
So in closing, our family could use your prayers right now as we prepare for family coming in and for my mom’s Celebration of life this weekend. We really appreciate everything that everyone has done for us already! We love you guys!