Surviving My Mother’s Cancer: On Writing, Humor, and Realizing Our Dreams

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My mom is the funniest person you’d ever meet–that is, if you can get her sick sense of humor. Her favorite movie is Mommy Dearest and she can quote the entire movie by heart. A few years we took her to see the musical rendition. Yes, there was a musical version. Actually, it was pretty good . . . we enjoyed it anyway. But then again, I inherited my mom’s funny bone.

It’s not big secret, my mother’s battling cancer. And although she’s apparently had it for some time, we only recently discovered it in August of 2014. I know what you’re thinking: how the heck wouldn’t she notice having stage 4 liver cancer? Well, my mom’s always been a tough old gal with a high tolerance to pain and discomfort. Plus, she’s stubborn as I’ll get out. Hmm, I wonder where I get that from? Anyway, at the time of diagnosis, things were looking bad, really bad, and I was anticipating funeral plans in the near future. And this scared me. I wasn’t prepared for all that, but mostly I wasn’t ready to lose my mom. And for the first time in my life, I discovered what helplessness really felt like.

How did I survive my mother’s cancer? A combination of things. Number one, a positive attitude and a sick sense of humor. And two, by immersing myself in my writing. Throughout my mom’s treatments and the never-ending trips to the ER, I began serious efforts on completing my first novel, an Arthurian parody that centers around the misadventures of a girl named Pig and her knight, Sir Kay, as they journey in search of the elusive holy something-or-other. Considering the work is humorous in nature, I thought it would cheer me up, but more importantly, I thought it would give me some distraction and a sense of control. And it did. While mom underwent treatments, I made edits to my manuscript. While she stayed overnight at the hospital, I worked with a freelancer to create the cover art. And amazenly as the story improved, so did my mom’s condition. It was almost like the progress of the two were intertwined. By the date of my novel’s release, my mother received a positive update from her doctor. The cancer was responding to treatment and the tumors had shrunk. My mother was given the promise of time, maybe only a year or two, but it’s more than what we’d hoped for.

To say I am grateful is an understatement. I have my mom. More importantly I have time, time to help her achieve her lifelong dream of riding a horse. I know that doesn’t seem like much but when you put it off for ten years it becomes a huge deal. I can’t wait to see her realize her dream as she saw me realize mine.

Life is made up of experiences, both good and bad, and how we respond to them shapes the person we become and inevitably the outcome. Mom was given a death sentence, but beat the odds with courage, a morbid sense of humor, and the support of her children. If I can even be half that courageous going into the publishing world, I will no doubt succeed.

Currently, mom is doing well, all things considered, but I know realistically she will probably never be “cured” of her cancer. There will be ups and downs and things will get eventually turn for the worse, but I am better prepared because of the time I was given, the strength I have gained, and the ability to find humor in even the most grim of circumstances. Armed with courage and an unwavering sense of humor, I know I will survive my mother’s cancer and whatever life has to throw my way.

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9 thoughts on “Surviving My Mother’s Cancer: On Writing, Humor, and Realizing Our Dreams

  1. Life is full of curve balls and boy, did you go through it! I love how your mom’s health and your beautiful debut novel is intertwined! Cherish the moments you have and laugh a lot. That’s what I learned from losing my dad. Laughter, sometimes, is the only medicine we need. Sending massive healing thoughts to your mother and to you as well, my friend! *HUGS* 🙂

    • Thank you, ma’am. Sending *HUGS* back your way. I don’t know why, but I woke up feeling really sappy about everything today and had to share it. My mom’s been a huge inspiration for me and I hope it gives others some perspective.

  2. So glad you got the extra time. Now reading the rest of your novel will carry more “weight” for me. I was already enjoying it, this makes the pleasure sweeter.

    • Thank you, and I’m glad to know this will enhance the reading experience. In a way, this novel will always be my favorite because of what it’s gotten me through. And secretly, mom’s always love the first born most;)

  3. So poignant, Kylie. I can’t imagine losing my mom. She’ll be 80 this year, and I know she won’t last forever, but I just mentally can’t go there. I’m glad your mom will have more time, and I know she’ll enjoy her horseback ride. Family is everything.

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