A man and woman hug each other while looking at a hilly landscape inside the silhouette of a large crystal.

When Your Mom is Stronger Than Chemotherapy

Last updated: May 2023

After restarting Mom's intravesical chemotherapy, things seemed to go pretty smoothly, at least from my perspective. We had fallen into a kind of routine during those 7 weeks, and Mom was nothing short of awesome.

The regimen

For my part, the chemo regimen seemed to be unremarkable.  Mom mastered holding in the 2 medicines.  Despite her discomfort and pain, she persevered and held in the meds until the absolute last second she could each time.

After chemo, Mom usually wanted to stop at Brighton or our favorite crystal shop in Livermore, which I loved. We would also grab lunch or coffee on the way home.

It seemed to do Mom good. She kept her mind busy instead of just worried about all that was happening. We got to see and collect some beautiful crystals. Moreover, we spent time together, sharing opinions, information, memories, and a sense of hopeful normalcy.

I had begun to look forward to her chemo instillations and the time we would spend together.

Life goes on around us

Our routine was simple. I worked full-time most days and built a financial coaching business in the evenings. I also took care of Mom and the house. My stepdad was gone during the weeks on a job site a few hours away. This made the housekeeping much easier on me! Mom would later share that his being gone during the week made her healing time possible and peaceful.

I got my first Covid vaccine in February 2021; the second shot was coming at the end of March. I was excited to protect Mom and to be protected from the terror of the little-understood virus.

Mom's chemo appointments were on Wednesdays. I was lucky to schedule my vaccine appointments through my job 2 Fridays a month apart. This gave me a day after Mom's chemo to take care of her if she had a reaction or needed to go to the pharmacy, do lab work, etc.

I needed that day because my immune system reacted robustly to the shots.

Her last chemo instillation

I cannot over-emphasize just how strong Mom was throughout the chemo. She was so brave to face something so scary and painful!

Her last chemo session was only 2 days before I was to have my second Covid vaccine shot. I completed an impromptu photo shoot around the Stanford Hospital campus with some selected crystals while waiting for Mom. I used the time to reflect, pray, and especially to send positive energy to Mom.

I was waiting by a tree near the driveway of the cancer center when Mom walked out of the lobby. We chatted about how glad she was to be done with it and how we hoped we had won the war.

We got in the car and drove home. Headed east on Highway 237, I looked up at the East Bay Hills and saw snow covering the top of them. This was quite unusual for the San Francisco Bay Area, I thought.

A disturbing thought suddenly hit me: I hope this isn't the last time Mom gets to see this vista.

Mom's undeniable strength and love

Mom was in quite a bit of bladder pain that evening. Her urinary urgency and burning were undeniably overwhelming. However, Mom insisted I go to work as usual and get my final vaccine shot.

That Friday night, when I came back home, she was relaxing in bed. My stepdad was home and asleep in the family room in front of a blaring TV. I checked on Mom, fed her, and told her I needed to go upstairs to my room. I was starting to feel the shot do its thing.

The body aches, and chills were getting strong. Even a blanket on my legs was painful. At least I'll feel better in a day or 2, I thought.

Suddenly I fixated on my Mom: in so much pain, fighting for her life, and being tortured weekly, without the knowledge she'll feel better in a few days. An emotional dam broke, and the waters swept me away.

I called my business partner and cried on his shoulder. He was able to talk me off the ledge. After we hung up, I lay in bed wiping away woeful tears.

Taking care of each other

Suddenly, my bedroom door opened, and Mom hobbled in. I couldn't believe she walked up the stairs alone in such pain!

"Son, are you ok?" she asked worriedly.

"Yeah, Mom. I'm just really hurting," I answered, trying to mask my face and alter my nasal-sounding voice.

"Do you need anything?" she said.

"No, Mom, I'll be alright."

"If you need anything, let me know. I have my phone next to me," she offered.

"You too, Mom," I replied.

She kissed my forehead, said goodnight, and hobbled back down the stairs. I heard her groaning every few steps as my pillowcase steadily became saturated.

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