April 29, 2002
Pull up a chair – I want to tell you about
Several months ago Mom
called to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Obviously I
was stunned and distraught. I wasn’t ready to lose my mom. She’s not old
enough to die. I’m not old enough to lose her! “I never signed up for
cancer,” she told me. Yeah, neither did I. None of us did, but now she is
in for the battle of her life. And although this is her battle to fight,
I am determined to be her greatest cheerleader. There’s not a whole lot else I
can do, after all. All I can do for her is be the best daughter I can be.
She makes it easy to do that,
though. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her. Here she has been
diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and she is walking head on into her battle
with a positive attitude. How anyone fighting cancer can keep a positive
attitude is beyond me, but she is doing it. She sent me an email the other
day that read, “I have started to lose my nose hair. Isn't that exciting!”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I guess if you’re going to find humor in this
situation, nose hair falling out is pretty funny.
She has been dealing with the chemotherapy and
the loss of her hair in stride. I guess a lot of women become pretty
distressed when they lose their hair during chemo, but Mom hasn’t seemed too
fazed by it. “I don’t really care if my hair falls out,” she told me. “I
just want to live.” Now that’s what I call perspective. She even had a
hair shaving party in anticipation of losing her hair. Her doctors told her
she should start losing her hair around day 14 after her first chemo
treatment, so on day 13 she had a party. Leave it to Mom to take the
and make lemonade.
party was just for immediate family, and I flew
down for the occasion. Mom’s hair stylist, Sharon, came out to the house to
do the honors. My brother-in-law Jim went first; he had always wanted to
shave his head but my sister didn’t really want him to. But on this
occasion, Janet said he could shave it when Mom did. We had the video camera
rolling and snapped a bunch of photos. We laughed and teased as Jim’s
overly white scalp emerged and contrasted with his slightly sun-burned
face. Mom looked nervous, but we kept things lighthearted. Then came Mom’s
turn. Her anxious look continued, but she took it with good humor as her
hair fell around her feet. The grandkids giggled as Sharon let each of them
shave a little of Mom’s head. Pretty soon it was all gone; Mom was now
bald. “You look good,” we assured her, “You have a nice shaped head.
look a lot better than Jim, that’s for sure!”
We snapped some photos and Mom’s nervous
look continued. She didn’t want us to bring a mirror; she wasn’t quite
ready to look at herself. I had my sister Nancy take a couple of photos of
Mom and me, and then I looked at the photos in the digital display. “Let me
see,” Mom asked. The display is small, but it was enough for her to see
herself with no hair. Interestingly enough, her nervous look melted away.
She didn’t cry or become distraught. She actually looked relieved. As she
relaxed, her humor started to kick in. In fact, a while later as she looked
in the mirror she said to me, “I look like something out of Star Trek!” We
laughed together. You know, she’s kind of right. Give her some pointy ears
and she’d fit right in on the U.S.S. Enterprise.
She didn’t cry
about her hair that entire weekend, and as far as I know she never did.
Through all of this I have seen a side of
Mom emerge that I’ve never seen before. She is calm and good humored in the
face of cancer. I always knew she was strong – after all, she has battled and
overcome two addictions in her lifetime. And now, after 21 years of
sobriety, she is in the middle of her toughest battle yet. Has she changed
through all of this? Is this why I am seeing her in a new light? To tell
the truth, I don’t think so. I think what has changed is me. Her attitude,
her sense of hope and determination, has been such an inspiration to me and
I know she doesn’t even realize it. I am becoming a better daughter, but
only because I have been moved by her courage. She is fighting to win and I
know in my heart that she will succeed. And I intend to cheer her on
throughout her journey.
So with love I dedicate this web site to
my mom, Lucy Peckham. She has always encouraged my writing and I know she has
been waiting for the day to see me published. God bless the internet, where
you can just publish yourself.
Mom, this site is for you.