Mom. 1940-2020

My Mom wearing a Big Bang Theory apron that reads Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock, and making the Live-long-and-prosper hand signal from Star Trek

Mom didn’t want me writing about the fact that she had cancer. “Wait ’til I’m gone”, she said.

A few weeks after I quit full-time radio in October 2018, my Mom was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. She had been complaining about her lung “feeling funny” for months, but her family doctor, knowing she was an ex-smoker, didn’t think there was anything to it. By the time they took a look, the lung cancer was stage four and had spread to her lymph nodes, hip bones and liver. Most of the tumours were slow-growing but, as you may have guessed, not the ones in her liver.

I promised her from the start that I would be her appointment buddy. I was still able to work – I freelance – between her immunotherapy treatments, which happened every three weeks. Then I would go to her place and become her short-term roommate for another round of appointments. There were blood tests and CAT scans and visits with the oncologist. I was there so often, I purchased a memory foam topper and orthopedic pillow for her bed. (Mom was a couch sleeper.)

Immunotherapy is the latest weapon in the arsenal that fights cancer. It’s a powerful suite of drugs, as strong as chemotherapy, but it works differently. It boosts the immune system so it can fight the cancer naturally. And it was working for Mom until the side effects became so severe, she had to stop taking it. Her joints swelled and became so painful that she cried most of the time. No type of painkiller worked and she couldn’t even lift a coffee mug. It was hard to bear, knowing the tumours had stopped growing but her body was unable to tolerate the reason why. It was months before the swelling went down and the pain subsided.

But cancer didn’t take that time off.

She had other support, of course. My brother had an innate sense of getting her exactly what she needed at the right time. He proved that again with the robot vacuum he had shipped to her condo after she mentioned that cleaning was getting to be too much for her.

My former sister-in-law, Janet, was Mom’s best friend and always ready to help in any way she needed, and even in ways she didn’t know she needed. And Mom had other friends and family to give her assistance and strength.

I tried to care for her alone for almost three weeks. She didn’t qualify for in-home PSW care, which is truly insane, considering she was unable to stand on her own at that point. After a week and a half in the hospital, she ended her life in McNally House Hospice, the most wonderful, caring and loving environment possible. Her last 10 days were the happiest of her life. She was full of gratitude and peace. We’re so grateful that a place like McNally exists and we could never thank them enough.

Mom would say, “Aren’t you sick of looking after me? Don’t you have something more important to do?” and I’d say, “Mom, there’s nothing more important than being here with you”. Eventually, she allowed herself to believe it. She worried that I was missing work and was overjoyed when Derek and I set up a little recording booth in her basement. She wanted to know who the client was whenever I got a job. It relieved her of feeling like a burden, which she never was. But she was a Mom, and Moms are supposed to look after their kids, not the other way around. At least, that’s how it was in her mind.

There won’t be a service for Mom. She didn’t want one, nor did she want a marker or burial. She will live in our hearts forever, cheering us on and riding the emotional wave of life with us like Moms do. You only get one.

Her official obituary is HERE.

20 thoughts on “Mom. 1940-2020”

  1. Lisa, very sorry to hear about the passing of your mum, may she RIP. My memory of her will be as a colleague in the early days of your blog in catching all those type-O’s.

    1. Haha – isn’t that the truth?! She was just being helpful. She’d rather I heard it from her than someone who didn’t love me. 🙂

  2. I am so sorry Lisa. Your Mom was so lucky to have YOU and all those that cared for her and loved her. My heart aches for you as I know very well the pain of losing a Mum. Just know that you are loved ❤️ Sending much love and condolences to YOU and all your Mom’s loved ones. Xo

  3. So Sorry for your loss. It is never easy losing a parent whatever your age. She was so fortunate to have such a caring daughter by her side.

  4. So sorry for your loss. My mother passed away in August and I still can’t believe she’s not here anymore.
    A faithful reader of your blog.

  5. I’m so sorry Lisa. Thinking of you and your family during this time. To quote Jann Arden, it sounds like you had a good Mother. And you were a great daughter. Take care.

  6. Oh I’m so sorry to hear this Lisa. I lost my Mom 3 years ago and I miss her every day, as you will. But how wonderful that you were able to be with her while she fought her battle with cancer. What a wonderful tribute to her. Thinking about you and your family at this time.

  7. Dear Lisa,
    I was so sorry to read that your Mom has passed. Please take comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and she is now re-united with your Dad. I lost my Mom 8 years ago from lung cancer as well and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. You were a good daughter and she certainly knew how much you loved and cared for her. My sincere condolences to you and your family. Take care….
    Sandra Hern..a long time reader of your blogs.

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