cancer, family, health, nursing


Metastasis = spread of cancer from one organ to another non adjacent organ or part.

One year ago in May, my mom (Patty) was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a year long treatment of chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy….she was deemed cancer free….

For exactly one month!

Then the word metastasis was uttered….. It was now in her brain.

Since this May, she has balanced doctor visits, radiation treatments, and a solid work schedule. She maintains a good attitude and has become more spiritual, feeling closer to God than she ever has. She has been tired and anxious…hopeful and scared….. positive and grateful for everything she has.

She's too far away, and I wish so much that she was closer. She has endured so much and I just want to help her….I just want do something! But…she wants to maintain her normalcy, and rightfully so. So I can only rely on phone calls, texts, and my one short visit to see her….to know how she's doing. She always says she's doing great and that she is in the hands of God :).

About a month ago, she was deemed cancer free again! We were all so happy and feeling blessed. The chances of the radiation getting all of the tumors out was questionable, so it was a miracle to all of us, that it was so successful.

One month later, the word metastasis comes out again! She had exactly one month of a reprieve before starting the process over. Honestly, reprieve isn't the word to use, since the whole month she was nauseated, and fighting to get food to stay in her stomach. On top of that, she somehow pulled her back out, which has been unsuccessfully treated thus far, and she now has difficulty walking.

Since learning about the “swelling” in her brain, her phone calls to me have decreased. She was remaining hopeful that these spots were not cancer, but just swelling. I learned for sure a couple days ago that it was cancer…..but not from her.

I haven't cried tears as of yet, and I'm having a lot of trouble processing through my feelings right now.

I've been a nurse for many years, and have even worked with patients who have had brain tumors. I have worked with many families who had to process through the new diagnosis together, yet I have no idea what to do or how to feel for myself…..and we are not together!

I feel like I've been punched in the gut…….like the wind has been knocked out of me. I don't feel less sad about the news than I did the last time, yet my response to it is so different. I long to hear how she feels…how she's doing, but yet I don't. Instead, I try to talk professionally about it, and try to keep myself preoccupied.

I feel selfish and angry!…..I love her so much!

Through my dad, I have learned of her scheduled PET scans, CT scans, fine slice MRI…AND her gamma knife radiation therapy to treat the cancer…..I feel numb. I hear him saying the words, but they wont fully register. I don't know what the recurrence means……except a long road ahead…I just want her HERE!

The lump in my throat grows bigger every time I think of it. I need to call her…and I will.

My thoughts keep wrapping around the fact that she hasn't called me either…which is unlike both of us. I fear the reasoning behind this is because we both know that when we do finally talk, the reality will set in, the flood gates will open, and neither of us will stop crying……

But I need her here..

I need to comfort her while hugging her….and I need to be comforted by her too…..I feel useless….

I guess I'm writing this to try and process through my thoughts, but also to ask a favor. If you believe in a higher power, please pray for her….send positive vibes her way, so that she can stay strong through her new treatments, and hopefully beat this cancer for good.





  1. Just hang in there and be hopeful and keep praying. She will be in my prayers as well. I went through the same ordeal with a good friend of mine in 2011 through early 2012. She was a great lady and fought a good fight. I have more to say, but this isn’t the right time. Just be there for her and your dad the best you can. I know you will.

  2. My thoughts are with you. Kicked in the gut is a very apt description I would think. I have been here with friends in the past but your mum! And you are not right there beside her, and she beside you. How impossibly difficult.
    It is obvious that you are indeed processing this news and all it might mean short and long term. In time you will of course speak with and cry and also comfort your mum. As I am sure you know she needs you to be strong. You are the nurse you must hope. She needs to feel that hope.
    A small tip which I learned when my Dad got sick and I have used it since. When you do not want to break down, suck a hard sweet (secretly). It really helps you to stop crying.
    Hugs coming your way and very very positive thoughts. I do not share a faith with you but I know my way to the nearest church and tomorrow I promise to go there and light a candle especially for your mum.( Hopefully lightening wont strike me when I go in!)

    • Thank you for risking your life at my expense:)! I appreciate your kind words, as will she. Patty is my step mother…ever since I was eight years old. People often get confused when I call her mom….but she has earned that title. I have been lucky enough o ave had 2 great moms in my life!! Often when I say step mother, people say ooh…it’s not your real mom…..but she is every bit as important!! Again…thanks for your good vibes!!!

  3. My heart goes out to you and your family. I think you know we lost my father-in-law to cancer a month ago. I hope your family as a more successful outcome. I don’t know how much this will ell, but it sounds like you are doing everything you can do just by loving your mother ad family. Hugs to you.

  4. Tia, it breaks my heart to know of your troubles. You work at Riley, you have seen and participated in miracles. Can you take an fmla and go spend a few weeks with her? please see if you qualify for an intermittent fmla, maybe you won’t but read up on the rules yourself. Cassie lost her mother at a fairly young age to cancer, perhaps you can spend some time talking to her about your feelings, she has been there. I will pray for you and yours that peace will enter your tortured hearts and for your mom and dad to have the strength to keep pushing ahead. I too received a “new” dad at age 8 yrs. He has loved me, cared for me, provided for me, taught me and never once have we EVER been step anything. He is my dad, the one who stepped up to the plate and never looked back. He is now 81 to my (cough) 58. I wish for you the same.

    • Thank you so much Jackie…I appreciate your thoughts prayers and words of wisdom more than you can know!!! I’m glad you understand my relationship with my Otha motha:)! Some people just don’t!!!

      • Isn’t it kinda weird and very sad that these same people can look at you and your family and totally understand the love you share, yet can’t understand the love you and your mom share without injecting the word ” step”? I have always hated that word and always will. In fact, I never felt the need to tell my children any different as I knew he would be crushed. Since my other dad was deceased, I always thought I would tell them when he was gone if the need arose. Who wouldda thought he would be almost 82 and running around all over the place with his 80 yr old girlfriend?! My mom died at 59 and ya can’t spend the rest of your life sitting around alone, I told him. He is a very good listener! LOL!

  5. Dear Tia, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, and I will send healing energy and prayers to her and your whole family. I believe in miracles of all kinds!

    When my daughter’s cancer had spread to her brain, I wish that I’d been willing to talk with her about the possibility of death. I know that’s not what anyone wants to focus on, but she needed to talk about that, and I was only willing to talk about how it was all going to be fine. When I read the part about how it feels like you and your mom are both holding off talking because you may both start crying, I felt that yes, you need to be strong, but also wiling to be vulnerable with her. Be real, whatever that is, and she will appreciate that…

    I hope you don’t mind my sharing my thoughts based on my experience. I send love and blessings to you and your family,

    • I appreciate all of your words of wisdom. I just don’t know where I’m at really! If I could see her, I think it would be different! I can’t machine hw h may truly be feeling. Thank you of your positive vibes….I appreciate them so much!!!

  6. Chelsey Anderson says:

    I can’t imagine how you must feel, but I encourage you to keep writing. Release all of your fears and anger and sadness. I think you should call her, even if it is only tears from both ends. I have been praying for your family for a long time, and will continue to pray. xxxxxx

    • Thank you so much for your words….and I did talk with her! She starts her treatment next week and got good news from her PET SCANS…no cancer in the rest of her body!! Thanks for your prayers..they are all appreciated:)

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