Discovering My Mother Had Cancer While I Was Pregnant
I Was A Soon to be Mom at Risk of Losing My Own Mother
Pregnancy is hard enough with the emotional roller coasters and appetite changes. My pregnancy made me horribly sick the majority of the time, especially during the first trimester, but none of that pain could compare to the pain I felt when I found out my mother had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I experienced extreme emotions of complete despair to overwhelming joy throughout my pregnancy. I never knew how much I truly appreciated my mother until this time in my life. For all of you have a loved one fighting, has fought, or will fight cancer; I write this, so you may know you are not alone in this struggle.
The Devistating News
The Shock of It All
I was pregnant with my first child; the first grand-baby for my parents. We were all so thrilled and I hadn't been pregnant very long when I got a call from my mother that would turn my world upside down. She was very calm, which always worries me, as that is usually the first sign that something is wrong. Then, she said, "I don't want you to get worried." I was trying to prepare myself for whatever the next words were that I was about to hear, but I felt like the rug had been ripped out from under me when she told me she found out she had cancer. I gasped and sat there in silence for a moment and then said I would be putting her on mute to tell my husband. As soon as I pushed the mute button I started sobbing and I could barely get the words out to explain to my husband what I had just discovered. When I got back on the phone I tried as hard as I could to stay composed, but my mother could tell I had been crying and that is when she broke down. She proceeded to say I needed to try to be happy for the baby's sake and that everything would be fine and she quickly ended the conversation, so she would not convey the worry in her voice, but I knew exactly what she was thinking. After I hung up, my husband held me as I cried.
At the time, my husband and I lived across the entire country from where our families were, we had moved only a few months prior to conceiving. I wished more than ever that I could be by my mother's side. I felt so helpless and wondered how something so horrible could happen to such an amazing person. My mother was a little overweight, but dispite that had always been a fairly healthy person, a beam of positivity even with all the tough experiences she had already endured in her life, and always went beyond what was expected for any of her roles. It was heart wrenching to think about the possibility of having a baby without my mother on this earth. The only way I could keep my emotions from engulfing me was to try to reassure myself that everything would be okay and to focus on my unborn child.
Cancer Was Only the Beginning
"When It Rains, It Pours"
After the initial news, everything seemed to go so quickly, and Mom just kept going through struggle after struggle. At one point it seemed like my mom was continually being tested; physically and spiritually. The hysterectomy was immediately scheduled, after which there were some complications. She faced recovering from the surgery while also dealing with trying to keep up with medical bills that were already piling up. Then, the doctors said there were signs the cancer had spread outside of her uterus and informed her that she was at a stage 3A risk. They gave her some options and after much thought, consideration, and prayer my mother decided to proceed with chemotherapy.
As time went on I was being reassured that everything was fine and that my mother was actually doing a little better at times, but I knew they were just trying to protect me from reality for my safety and the health of the baby. Never the less, for some unexplainable reason I started to feel like I needed to know everything I could about the type of cancer my mother had, the hysterectomy procedure, the type of chemo she was being treated with, the affects of the chemo, what stage 3A meant etc. (see the links below) As if I were almost trying to catch up with everything that had happened. The details were daunting and I was more worried than ever.
If all that my mother had gone through already wasn't enough, she started having problems with Beta Strep; something she had contracted through a previous pregnancy, which was dormant until this time. She started having to carrying an antibiotic with her that was attached to a tube in her body. The tube moved inside of her and at one point, to our shock, we found it had traveled too far in her body. They were able to fix this, but it was like life was fighting against my mom.
Throughout every trial my mother had thrown at her, she continued to be a pillar of strength. She even kept working although she had lost her hair, was constantly nauseous to the point of throwing up, had to wear a mask to work, was so weak, felt pain all over her body, etc. Let me tell you, the chemotherapy was the worst part of the cancer. She experienced so much pain, sickness, and exhaustion from it that it was hard to imagine that this was a "treatment." However; no matter what physical hardships and emotional anguish my mom faced she somehow always searched for the positive and found hope. Not to say she did not have bad days where she would break because the reality of it all was too much, but she would continuously find a way to pick herself back up and everyone around her as well. It humbled me to see that no matter what she was going through, Mom was always more worried for the family, me, the baby, and even other patients she had met while going through treatment than herself.
You don't know how much chemo can really affect the body until you experience it or see a loved one go through treatment. I know it was very difficult for my mother to lose her hair from the chemo, so she really appreciated hats, wraps, and covers she could use during that time. Not only did the head covers help build her confidence back, but they also protected her beautiful bald head from the sun. The treatments also took forever, so it was nice to have some ways to pass the time. In addition, the room is kept cold to ward off any bacteria, as patients are extremely susceptible to infection, so anything that can make them warm can help as well as give them comfort. Here are some items that might help someone going through chemo treatment. It is one small way that I felt like I could help.
A Birth and an End
The time was getting closer for me to have the baby and I knew my mother wasn't going to be able to be with me because of the circumstances of her situation. It was my greatest wish that we could be together, not only so I could have her help and support while having my first baby, but so I could also be there for her in all that she was experiencing. It was so difficult to contemplate not having her there, but knowing how strong she was is what pushed me through it all. When the time came, I was induced and in labor for seven hours. Finally, I delivered a healthy, beautiful, baby boy without any complications, even though the experience itself was rough in multiple ways. The following day my mother had her last chemo treatment and emotionally it was an extremely hard day for me. I was so happy to have my baby in my arms, yet I hurt so much to know the pain my mother was still enduring. I got very close with God and Christ at that point in my life and it is what personally pulled me through.
Although we did not know what the end result would be after completing her chemo treatments, our family was finally able to rejoice in the blessings of our newest member and Mom's amazing fight. I was finally able to truly put things in the Lord's hands. At that point, we could only pray she would never have to experience anything like that in her life again.
Life Is Truly Amazing
A year after her last treatment, my mother finally started to become herself again and after another round of numerous tests, they finally said the words we all had been hoping and praying for; there were no longer any signs of cancer! We know there is always the chance the cancer could come back, but it opened our eyes to what we take for granted, that we need to enjoy life, and appreciate everything. Life is fragile and if we aren't careful we can lose track of what is most important. Thus, I share this with you, not to say you will have the same experience with endometrial cancer, not to say our experience was worse or better than anyone else, or even how to prepare yourself for a situation similar to this, but rather to help you find hope and realize how amazing life really is. Try not to lose faith, no matter how hard things may seem. Most of all, I wish for all those who are going through hard times, whether you are battling cancer or are a friend or a family member of someone that is, to find the comfort and strength you need to make it through whatever life has in store.
Medical Research & Help Information
To find out more about endometrial cancer and some of the procedures and treatments my mother went through, or that someone you might know could also be going through, please visit the following sites:
- Endometrial Cancer
Find out what Endometrial cancer is.
More info. on the hysterectomy procedure
- Catheters After Hysterectomy
The removal of this was painful for my mom.
Additional info on chemo and types
- Cancer Staging
Find out how doctors decide the severity of the cancer a patient has
- Endometrial Cancer, Stage 3A
Additional info on the exact type and stage of cancer my mother had.
- Cancer Support Groups
This a small list of some cancer support groups, to find the group that might be right for you or someone you know you can also do a more specific search on the web.
- Beta Strep
More about Beta Strep or GBS
Making a Difference
My mother and father are now on their local committee for Relay For Life; their goal being to help more people survive and fight cancer. To donate, click on the following link: www.relayforlife.org. Thank you for your support!
I would like to hear from you...do you know someone with endometrial or uterine cancer? How has it affected you? Did this article help at all?