We had the facts: Pancreatic Cancer. Stage 4. At the time I didn’t have a clue about how many stages there even were, nor what it meant that we skipped Stage 1, 2 and 3 and were now up to 4 but I knew it was not good. The kind of not good I had never seen in my life, only in movies.
That is, until my mom met a doctor who believed he was going to find the cure. As a matter of fact, he was so confident about it that he held my mother’s hand and said, “I just need you to hang on until I find the cure.” Seemed fair enough. Who wouldn’t hold on with all their might if they knew they could be cured?
We believed in miracles
I mean, we had to. Mom found this doctor by simply standing besides the water’s edge, hoping for a miracle. And then she appeared. The woman who listened to my mom’s story about her cancer and then handed her this doctor’s phone number. It could not have been a coincidence. And so, if not that, then it had to be a miracle.
It was a mere 2 days later that she met this doctor, aka the miracle-worker, and decided to begin his pre-clinical trials. It was then that she again began sharing her story through email to everyone she knew.
Her first email sent to her favorite group of Culture Club woman was pretty ironic, given how the rest of the story began to unfold.
I am praying for a miracle. If you know any way to conjure up a miracle, please do. The future (my future) is impossible to predict, even in the short run and I hope and plan to see you all again real soon.
This glimmer of hopeful thinking, that she would be able to rally for her group of friends again real soon for dinner, was actually all part of our calling out to the universe for a miracle. We could not ask for a miracle and then lie down and wait to die. That’s not how miracles arrive. They would only arrive if you believed…and like I said, we believed. We HAD to believe.
With our new-found acceptance, the family rallied for a Pancreatic Fundraiser Walk. It was time to look this cancer right in the face, and walk towards it. My mom, an avid marathon runner, walked right along side her family…brave face on. And so came her next email:
Oct. 20, 2013
The Pancreatic Walk
I am not running on this day, not that anyone else is either. Somehow that makes me feel better since I am not only not running this day but very few days since my diagnosis 9 weeks ago…a true lifetime ago. So since I’ve brought this up, 9 weeks is 3/4 of what I thought was going to be my lifetime. But I am not counting down…I am counting up! I am not down and I am not out either! How do I know? Because I say so…”
And then we wait. And wait. And wait.
I am sitting beside my mom in bed who feels fine…just exhausted in a way that marathon woman can’t quite grip. She tells me that she had a dream and wasn’t sure if it was a dream or perhaps a feeling, but she couldn’t shake it.
“Each night as I close my eyes, I experience this darkness like I never have. Not the kind of dark you notice as the lights go out, but complete darkness. It’s so dark that it scares me. But there was one night that I closed my eyes and just as I saw the darkness, a little light flashed, and then went out. “ Then she looked at me. “I think my liver cancer is gone,” she said. “I think that was the light.”
I believed in miracles.
December. First scan.
I am at the gym killing time because I don’t know what else to do while we wait for the results. When my cell lights up I literally sprint to a spot that seems quiet. The pounding in my chest is really all I hear. One giant deep breathe as I slide the little green button and then remind myself that miracles do actually happen. Please god…now would be good.
“The liver cancer is gone,” my mom says in a way that sounds surreal. “And the pancreatic tumor has gone from 4cm to 1cm and they are not sure, but it could be just dead cells…”
My body crumbles beneath me as I begin to sob. I feel like I am gasping for air, as if finally coming above the water. All that we had prayed for swarmed in circles around me. Life. The precious gift of more life…
We now had new facts:
1 – The treatments were working.
2 – Miracles can happen.
What we didn’t know was that this was just the beginning.