March 7, 2010

Celebrate: Daughter is cancer free


It took 14 months, but finally enough hair to style.
The odometer on my car gives a clue to the pace of the past five days - 935 more miles were added picking her up at the airport, escorting (sort of) her to the medical appointments and dropping her back off at the airport.

The good news is there is no sign that that cancer has returned and the just-turned 26-year-old needs no more chemo. She was even able to get the port out.

There's Tamoxifen and checkups every three months, but mostly this battle against breast cancer is over. Fighters do survive Stage IV, stupid doctors and the odds. (Need background? Check these links.)

Chasing away debt

We've also finished paying off two of the three big debts incurred while she was on her employer's insurance. (She'd been better off without any as then the government, or a charity, even some of the doctors and hospitals would have helped). We hold our breath that those who forgave debts continue to do so and we can continue to pay toward the debt that is bigger then what many make in a year.

Still, it is disheartening to learn that the thousands of miles driven in 2009 and the medical bills do not lead to any tax breaks for her or us. Equally daunting is the new costs of insurance, new medications and new treatments such as physical therapy and counseling. Do not get me started on the Obama health plan.

I remain grateful for second chances, happy that a buyout that ended my career gave me a second chance at attempting to be a good mother and provided a cash cushion. That the cash lasted just long enough helps me believe that God does provide what we need just in time.

Replacing cancer

She's doing better with the end then me, seeing the incompatibility of a lifetime of joy with her companion of the past eight years and learning to separate. She's found classes to take, new people to hang with and is exploring her newly adopted community. She is moving onto new ventures, including a ride-along at the Bristol Speedway, whitewater rafting and skydiving.

Those ventures remind me of how things like hot-air ballooning, road trips and festival-hopping were the norm for me, pre-kid days, pre-multiple sclerosis days and pre-buyout days. But that's another post(s) as I try to figure out just what it is that a people-pleaser with a mishmash of skills is supposed to do next.

Deja vu, all over again

On a more personal level, she's been re-establishing her independence. Even though the books and counselor told me that it would happen, even knowing it in my mind, does not make it easier.

I want to barge into the offices where doctors deliver their statements. I want to be asked what would I do when her work calls once more time. I want her to eat, even like, the meals I fix, praise the redecorated room and rejoice that I've made new friends.

It cuts to the bone when she critiques my driving, saying what a waste it would be to die in a car crash after surviving cancer. And, oh my goodness, she has learned way too well how to send my "angry" face, my "are you kidding" face and others to me.

A planned celebration of a salon visit goes badly when I'm banished to the waiting room and later told to shut up when I make a suggestion.  Of course, later I'm told I heard that wrong and I'm too sensitive.

Keep eye on end

For 10 months, we were together constantly with me living with her or her moving in with my husband and I. For the next five months, we were in contact multiple times each day. But that contact has slowed and this last visit home was hard.

I have become the stupid mother of a teenager once again. I remind myself that this stretch for independence is good. That this, too, shall pass.

But mostly, I remind myself that this kid I wasn't supposed to have, that this woman who fought the battle of a lifetime and won, that this amazing person with a quirky sense of humor and a big heart, loves me.

I've written about my daughter's battle with cancer before - hey, it helped keep me sane. Check out the background and list. Or try these:


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