Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Unsung Survivor

Best Mother In Law in the world
On February 8, I  was on speakerphone with Jim when the doctor was giving me the news that I have cancer.  I tried to compose myself at first, I said I will not cry.  I couldn't help it.  I cried for a good 20 minutes on the phone to my husband. 

After I gathered myself, I walked out of the hospital to the parking lot and stayed in my car for a few minutes.  I feel like I haven't let all the sadness and disbelief out of my system yet so the first person I called was Judy, my mother-in-law, Jim's mom who lives in Boston,MA. I would have also called my own mom but it was 2:00 am in the Philippines. 

I cried to her, sobbing, crying like a child.  She cried with me, as if she is putting my head on her shoulders and cradling me like a baby. She kept reassuring me its gonna be okay.  She also kept saying she wishes she was here next to me and give me comfort during this difficult moment. 

As soon as we hung up the phone, she started looking for flights to come out here in Los Angeles because she wants to be there when I start getting my treatments.  She wanted to take care of me, Jim and most specially baby James because I will have surgery in a few weeks. 

Two weeks before my scheduled surgery, she was going to fly in.  But the day before her flight, something surreal happened. Not everyone knew that she was rushed to the hospital because of blood in her urine and severe abdominal pains.  

Her husband, Roman, called us that night that she has to cancel her flight to L.A. because she is being confined to the hospital. She was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer. It was so unreal.  How can a family have two cancer diagnosis in one month?  How can Jim have two of his important women in his life go through cancer at the same time.  I've been concerned, how he can handle this?

Grammie, as we call Judy, has been my source of strength ever since.  She went through all the tests with courage and strength that everything will be fine.  I know deep inside she is also scared of the unknown.  Until the mass in her kidney is removed and biopsied, no one knew how bad the cancer is. 

She kept telling us how she feels bad that she can't be with us to help out.  She is so selfless.  Even at her trying times, she was still thinking of how she should help. 

Her surgery went well.  The doctors removed her malignant kidney and the tissues surrounding it.  She was stayed in the hospital for a few days and recovered at home after.  She did not need any more treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.  God answered my prayers.  I've been praying that she be spared from suffering from other treatments. 

A few weeks later, she told us that she was coming to help us  a month after her surgery.  We were concerned that she might not be well enough to be travelling, let alone taking care of us.  She was insistent. 

She arrived with Roman, her husband a day before my sister left for Singapore.  When I saw her, she was as vibrant, happy and caring as she has always been.  You wouldn't know that she just had surgery.  She was cleaning, fixing our home, vacuuming, doing laundry, taking James to the park everyday and make him take a nap. She taught James a lot of new things like a teacher (which was her profession in the early days). She shaved my falling out hair when no one will.  In the morning as soon as we woke up, you will see her in the living room, all ready for the day's work. 

I miss Grammie.  She is the mom that calms you down and inspires you to be a better person inside out.  Im so proud to be part of her family.  She is the mother-in-law you wish you can have.  Selfless, inspiring, calm but tough. She battled cancer in her own brave way. She is a survivor. An unsung survivor who doesn't talk much about her journey but is an inspiration to me for always believing that there is goodness in every situation and there always is a way. Her positivity gave me courage to fight my battle too. 

It was a blessing in disguise that she was diagnosed before she left for Los Angeles and that the cancer was caught early.  It has been a surreal journey for both of us and Im proud that she beat cancer!  I would love to be called a survivor like her.  We love her much. 

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