Almost 13 years ago, I was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin's lymphoma. For the next seven months, illness dominated my life and the lives of my family. My mother, sister and son were my caregivers, chauffeurs, chefs, Christmas decorators and cheerleaders. Someone was always was available to drive me to my chemo treatments.
My mother desperately wanted to mother me, move in and take care of me. Both my sister and I thought that would be too hard on her, and probably me too. She had just turned 80, and we were at that precarious place in life where the children begin to take care of the parent. She did, however, sit by my hospital bed, and, when it was her turn, sit by my side in the chemo infusion room for hours. She was the first one to see the awful wig, and told me I looked pretty. She called me every morning to make sure I was awake (alive, I think), but also to make sure I was alert enough to get to work. Mostly, she just wanted to be with me, and I know she felt helpless that there was not much she could do to help me get better.
My sister, being the elder and accustomed to mothering me, came over whenever I wanted fresh sheets, since I didn't have enough strength to make a bed. She often would ask me over for a meal, and made sure everything she fixed was unseasoned to accommodate my chemo burned stomach. My niece visited me every day during my short hospital stay. She would bring her three year old and three month old. Holding that baby was better therapy than any medicine. One of my sister's friends donated a much better wig. When one of my friends realized I was barely eating, she would leave work early the evening before my chemo, and pick me up for a meal out. Another friend often would surprise me with homemade chicken soup. God bless these generous and caring women.
My son and his wife would move in and 'mom sit' for a couple of days following each bi-weekly chemo treatment. They tried to help me eat and sip water (it hurt), would sit with me when I couldn't sleep, and just comfort me with their presence. I cherish the gift of their time and care. It couldn't have been easy.
I became involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) through Light the Night and over the years we have participated in several of the annual events. In 2009, I challenged myself to get off the sidelines and participate in Team in Training, and have since walked five half-marathons - because I can! We are saving lives one mile at a time, whether it's two miles at a Light The Night Walk, or the longer miles of Team In Training events. It is my belief that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society funded the research that discovered and developed the medicines that have prolonged my life and I am incredibly grateful for their mission.
For more than 12 years I have been able to experience so many of life's joys, watch my son continue on his life's journey, and for five years, known the spectacular joy of being Nana to a delightful grandson. I have felt the sorrow of saying goodbye to both my mother and sister, who each in their own way gave so much to me my entire life. I have learned that the challenge of fighting and beating cancer has helped me open doors I would never have noticed, met people who have become fast friends, and especially I have learned to appreciate that every day of life is a precious gift.
If you would like to take time to honor a mother, like Rhonda, in your life please consider making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this Mother's Day.
Make a donation onlineor via mail and a letter of recognition of your gift will be sent to the mother you are honoring with your donation. You are also welcome to mail in a donation to: LLS, Attn: Mother's Day, 8111 LBJ Fwy., Ste 425, Dallas, TX 75251.
Thank you and Happy Mother's Day from the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.