Monday, October 5, 2009

Take That, Cancer

About this time 2 years ago, my brother and I got this email sent to us at work:

Hi Kent & Suse:
Yesterday I got a phone call from the place where I had my mammogram last week. There's a spot on it that doesn't look good. We're going to Brandon today for another mammogram. There's no point in worrying until we know what today brings; it's in God's hands.
Love, Mom

I sat at my desk, shocked, and quickly called my brother. We sat on the phone in our separate offices, crying, while we took turns calling our Dad's cell phone to find out a) what the HELL was going on and b) where our Mom learned her email etiquette (um, Mom? Maybe the next time you have news like that, you can phone us.)

By the end of the day, my Mom had had another mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. She didn't have a firm diagnosis, only that it "didn't look good" but that the spot was also very small, so if it was cancer, it was caught early. By the end of that week, she had her diagnosis: breast cancer. And within another week, she knew that she needed to have a breast removed. She told the parents of the kids in her home daycare and waited to hear when her surgery would be.

What she didn't know at that time was that she was finally going to be a Grammie, with both of her kids expecting their first child within 6 weeks of each other. I was crazy & over-emotional thanks to the pregnancy hormones, and it was hard to not burst into tears everytime we spoke on the phone.

Mom had a great attitude right from the start. She was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing; yes, she had cancer. Yes, she would have a breast removed. Yes, she might need chemo, or radiation, or both.

On Christmas Eve 2007, Mom & Dad opened the last present left under the tree. It was a book called "Just Grandma, Grandpa & Me" and was from Baby Raine, with a promise to meet them in July. Soon after, she found out that Baby Raine's cousin was on the way, as well. The 2 babies gave "Grammie" something to look forward to; I think she forgot she had cancer sometimes.

In January, Mom had her surgery. Kent & I waited all day for our Dad to call and let us know how it went; imagine our surprise when the phone call came and it was Mom on the line, telling us she felt great and "just decided it was time to get on with getting well." She went home from the hospital the next day and didn't look back - she had 2 grandbabies to get ready for, you know. After a follow-up appointment with Cancer Care in Winnipeg, the verdict was in - the cancer had been very small, it was caught very early, her lymph nodes were cancer-free, and she did not require chemo OR radiation. It was the best news we could have hoped to receive.

A few months later, Grammie's first grandchild was born. Talia Isabelle was named after both of her Grandmas, so when you hear us refer to "little Tally" it's because Grammie is "big Tally."

Last October the McQueens participated in the Run for the Cure, and yesterday the McQueen fam all Walked For The Cure again. It was great. I barely held it together as we wove our way through the crowd of walkers & runners to find the registration table where my mom could get her survivor shirt, or while random strangers hugged her, patted her shoulder, or told her it was beautiful to see her out walking with her family. We hope to be picking up Grammie's pink shirt for many, many years to come.


Kristin said...

Beautifully written Trina, brought a few tears to my eyes :)

Mommy Mouse: said...

Thank you for sharing that, Trina. You brought tears to my eyes as well.

My grandmother beat breast cancer 3 times. I am so very thankful for the doctors that helped your mom and my grandmother.

(Although I have to ask if little Tally's sign should have said "I'm crawling for my Grammie" ?)

T Mc Q said...

True, Jac. Other possibilities for Talia's sign include "I Am Still Refusing To Walk For Anything, Even My Grammie" or "I Am Not Using My Legs Like A Sucker For The Cure."

shannon said...

Sweet young T is smiling for a cure. I like that.