In October 2011, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIb HER2+ inflammatory invasive ductal breast cancer. For all of the so-called “awareness” of pink ribbon cancer, we certainly were not very aware of this type of breast cancer or what we were about to face. As my mother’s only child and only living family member, her diagnosis was particularly devastating for me, and dealing with it while living three time zones away has not been easy.
I owe my sanity to my friend, Adrienne, and my (I hope) future sister-in-law, Jennae, both of whom know far too much about this cancer crap than they should. Amidst the false cheer, these bitches were all, “Listen, shit is about to get real. Here’s what you need to do to prepare yourself in case your mom’s vomiting becomes uncontrollable/her mouth sores become infected/the doctor refuses to listen/you have to plan a funeral by yourself.” THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR. They were the only people who had the balls to go THERE, to the scary cancer place that isn’t awash with pink ribbons and glitter.
That’s what I hope to do here. Watching helplessly as your own parent is treated for cancer (or any devastating disease/injury) is its own special kind of hell. The least I can do is write candidly about my experience and not sugarcoat anything, in hopes that I can be the voice of reason for someone else whose shit is about to get real.
Oh, and by the by, here’s the video that prompted my mom to see a doctor. For all intents and purposes, this video saved her life. SHE NEVER HAD A LUMP. HER ONLY SYMPTOM WAS A RASH. Please, please watch this video, and forward it to everyone you know.