My Mom

October 20, 2009

“Guys, come in here! Your mom and I need to share something with you.” That cry of my Dad is now just a faint whisper of my memory. It had been nearly seven years since my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. So many highs and lows happened over those seven years; I can’t express in words the joy and overwhelming feeling of thanks to God that the news of a tumor eradication can bring. Nor can I speak of the sinking sorrow that follows the discovery that the cancer has spread. Just as hard to describe is the experience of seeing God’s delivering hand through all of my Mom’s trials. All of the chemotherapy and radiation treatments I went to with her; all of the walks we went on as part of her training for the Avon 3-Day; all of these memories, and many more I now cherish as my tie to my Mom’s amazing life, love and strength.
But these memories are far from me as I sit in a chair in Northwest Hospital, heart bleeding as my Dad explains to my brothers and I that she may not make it through the night. I’m collapsing in on myself. “NO! This can’t be happening! This can’t be happening!” The thoughts cascade through my head as tears roll down my cheeks. I look over at my brother Tanner, then eight. He’s crying too.
That night is one of the heaviest in my mind, but it’s also one of happiest, because that night God preformed a miracle. My brothers and I had left our Mom that night with nothing more than the promise for a bleak tomorrow and the mental picture of our Mom lying unconscious on a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her arm and chest. We returned that next day to find that not only had our Mom survived the night, but to the Doctors’ amazement she was awake and laughing. That morning turned into a celebration as family and friends stopped by to visit with her and us. That morning was truly one of the most joyous in my life.
She was slated for brain surgery that same day. The Doctors said that they would have to place her under the knife to remove several of the largest tumors. She had already had three Gamma Knife surgeries in attempts to eradicate the cancer, but as successful as they were none had been able to completely destroy all of it. But God was still watching out for us. The surgeon who was to perform the procedure was possibly the best doctor qualified to do it.
The following days brought much relief and joy as our Mom recovered and healed from her surgery. The doctors had been able to remove several tumors, the largest the size of a golf ball. Unfortunately, the surgeons had not been able to extract all of the tumors, but that mattered little as we walked down the ward of the intensive care unit to see that our Mom was okay.
A few days later, I remember I came home from school and Mom was there. I was so excited! It seemed like joy had returned to our home. I was especially excited because my thirteenth birthday was a week away and I had been afraid I might not get the chance to share it with her. But she was there! And her presence made that birthday one of my most treasured. She even went to Dairy Queen with my friends and I, despite the weakness she carried. That was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
Several days after she came home she went back to the hospital to get a CAT and MRI scan done to check the effectiveness of the surgery. None of us were worried, but life can be cruel. When the results came back we found out that many of the remaining tumors continued to grow. I was scared. Despite this bad news, we all continued to hope and trust that God would heal her and see all of us through that dark time.
Weeks went by, and to my family and I’s sadness she got weaker and weaker until she became bedridden. Three things from this time I can remember well. The first was when my Dad and Mom called the three of us together and told us that at the rate her tumors were growing, she wouldn’t live to see a new week. The second is how fast her health deteriorated. One day, she was taking Tylenol to help with the headaches, a few days later, no amount of morphine would do any good. The third was the last time she climbed up the stairs from our basement to her bedroom, she was so feeble, my grandpa had to help her or else she wouldn’t have made it. That was the last time she left the upstairs.
We constantly had people in our house the next few days. Our Mom always had company. Family was over every day (at this point friends became family), which I really enjoyed because we didn’t get to see them too often. Our Dad hired a hospice nurse to help take care of Mom once she couldn’t leave the bed at all. This was especially hard for my brothers and I, because after she became completely bedridden we weren’t allowed to see her very often. Our church gave us so much support during this time and friends brought over dinner every night.
Several days passed, Mom got worse. One night, our Aunt Amy, Grandma, Grandpa and our pastor, Daniel and his wife Anita came over and met with our Dad by our Mom’s bed. They were up there for hours and wouldn’t let Talon, Tanner or I in. They left around eight O’clock.
At 10:30, Dad came down and told us that if we wanted to say our last words of love to Mom, this was the time to do it; she probably wouldn’t survive the night. He warned us that her skin was kind of grey and her breathing was ragged. Talon and I got up there and as we stood by her bedside told her that we loved her and said good-bye. It was scary to listen to her breathe; she was fighting for every breath. We knew this was the end; the seven year war cancer had waged on her now-ravaged body ended tonight. Her skin grew paler and her breaths became fewer and farther between. Anything that was holding my Dad together before came undone at that moment. He started crying and hugging her, I saw but could not grasp what was happening. And then, at 10:47PM on May 24th, 2005 Kerry Sue Abernathy was taken Home.
Somewhere in the Bible it talks about being healed, rescued and victorious after seven years. God did all of these with my Mom that night, maybe not in the way we wanted, but that’s okay. She was finally victorious and cancer free after seven long years of war.
Macon Abernathy