So many people far and wide have been so very wonderful to me, to Rob & I, to my family, to Boho Studio…
It is because of the kindness and love we have felt that I am compelled to share a coles notes of my story of the past year…on this day that my Mom left us back here in the physical world a year ago.
The Spring of 2018 found me with a nagging pain in my side that advil etc wouldnt budge. Sessions with massage therapists and chiropractors could not seem to help either. When I lost my appetite, my ability to sleep, my ability to walk without looking like I was in pain (which I was) I began to think I needed an Xray or something. An Xray showed in fact I did have a cracked rib, an old injury. So I figured I just needed to be patient for healing to take place. When I saw myself losing weight I thought it was because I had joined weight watchers and it was easier than I thought! My Mom had come from Sault Ste Marie to stay with us that Spring as she did regularly. She was so interested in what we were doing and always said yes to every request, every idea, every wild thing we came up with. Two months went by as my health declined and the colour drained out of my face while the energy drained out of my body. I kept trying to work at Boho, and the wonderful people who came gave me sweet concern and sympathy!
Flash forward to the end of May, after many frightened and begging requests from Rob and my Mom (Lucy) to go to the ER things got to that point where functioning at all was impossible.
I recall catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thinking that’s what I would look like if I was dead. I knew then it was time to go. Rob took me to Douglas Memorial Urgent Care where I was assessed very quickly to be very near a no turning back state of sepsis when all the internal organs shut down one after another generally ending with a heart attack. It only took minutes for us to get there and a short time before they sent me to Welland Hospital where CTscan and MRI, biopsy etc revealed dire diagnosis of inoperable breast cancer metastasized to bone, lung and liver. I went into another world that day, of tests and hospitals (I had only been in hospital to have my daughter in my 20s and to have my tonsils out at 6!) I can only imagine what it felt like for my Mom waiting at the studio and then hearing the news when Rob finally got home. They started chemo asap, the first round was not bad at all, the second was worse, the third, I ended up in St Catharine’s Hospital, Walker Clinic, for a respiratory infection. It was a fever that sent up the red flag although I just wanted to wait it out, Rob said I could wait it out for 30 minutes! LOL
My Mom had been here since March and would make me smoothies each morning and we would spend the days together doing easy things like taking a chair to the beach and sitting with our feet in the water, or going for our daily outing next door to the post office or drugstore. My family had all come together with the initial diagnosis, my sister from Vancouver Island came to stay and help…my sister and daughter came and stayed in cabins at Pleasant Beach during last summer’s heat wave with their 7 children, just to be near and spend time. My Mom left to go to to Ottawa with my sister on July 13th and I was admitted to the ICU on July 17th.
During the following 3 weeks, I was on racks of IVs, life support… I really dont know what happened, I was in the eye of that hurricane, it was my loved ones who were aware of and had to cope with everything that was going on. Niagara Healthcare took great care of me. I know some of the ICU nurses didnt think I would still be around when they came for their next shift. I know it was an extremely difficult horrible time for all those who love me. Rob & I had already decided we wanted to do a fundraiser the long weekend after the Aug Civic Holiday and before the newest crisis came we had put the word out, tickets printed, sponsors and donations secured. The first fundraiser was on Aug 11th, 2018. I was in intensive care and had to get strong enough to walk and breathe on my own before I could go home. The day I came home was August 3rd. The entire fundraiser was left on Robs shoulders and this community rallied around him and helped him in every way possible, it really is an incredible place to live. I recall Rob being so tried when he would come at night to visit the hospital I was so worried he would fall asleep at the wheel on the way home! He didn’t thank God!
My sister from out west had flown here again and was ready to go home knowing I was going to be released from hospital. Something told me she needed to stay, I asked her to stay another week, and that I would beg if thats what it took, and it wasn’t for me, it was for something or someone else.
Three days after I came home from hospital, my siblings came to me with the news that Mom had died in Sault Ste Marie hospital. She was fine a few days before when she left Ottawa but a hidden serious infection had taken her quickly on Aug 6 2018.
The fundraiser was a total blur, I remember faces who came to support, yes I do! But my experience of it was limited to the fact that I know it happened, and was a wonderful success thanks to my wonderful man and our families and friends and this community.
Now here we are a year later.Ive been living one day at a time…as Mom always said to do, being thankful for small and big blessings, getting stronger day by day, been in treatment and still am. Ive learned you can get battered and get better. Ive learned that living each day to the fullest is not just a cliché. Ive learned to live and coexist with cancer as a part of me and to love all of me. They are managing me and making it possible for me to have a full life doing all the things I love. I am so fortunate, so grateful, my Mom would be so happy.
Another COMMUNITY fundraiser about to happen, and it is the UNITY in community that makes it so special and the memory of the first one a very moving one in many ways. So thats the untold story minus a million details. The people in this community of goodness and the people who care about me have certainly earned a place in my heart where this private person wants to share my story, not for sympathy, just so you know that I trust you all with this most personal information. Thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Hope to see you Friday to celebrate and paint with you.