My mom continued to fight this awful lump that kept growing in her bones. The treatments here in Kansas City were not working, so she decided to try out a clinical trial in California.
In May of 2008, my mom, Gigi, and my Aunt Barb (Gigi’s Sister) packed up their bags and headed to the West Coast. They stayed in an apartment complex while they were there, and enjoyed getting to lay low by the pool while they waited for the appointments to start.
Something my mother was constantly working to bring up was her platelet count. In order for her to be able to be in the clinical trial, she would have to have 100,000 platelets, and she was only at about 62,000 when she first arrived in California. Her platelets did not rise in time for her first meeting with her sarcoma specialist, but he said that he would “take care of her and not to worry.” They ended up allowing for her to start the clinical trial anyways.
My mother spent about 3 months in California. It was so hard to be away from my mother for that long, and all we could do was sit and wait for whatever news she would send our way. While they were all in California, my Mimi and Papa, and my grandpa (mom’s dad) took care of my siblings and me. My Mimi dropped her entire life in Sedalia to come stay with us for the entire Summer. We surely missed my mama, but it was so nice to have family around us during such a trying time.
Not to mention the community of people we had behind us as well. Our community of people that followed our family’s story, and that helped in any way they could was incredible. It was extremely uplifting to know that we had an entire gang of prayer warriors by our side to lift us up and help in any way possible. From meals getting dropped off to our home, to assisting in after school pick up, to monetary donations to make my mother’s living situation in California possible, we were constantly in awe of how many beautiful people there was in this community.
The summer dragged on, as my mother continued to fight the cancer. Finally, it was Fourth of July Weekend, and my mom was supposed to come home. It had been about 7 weeks since we had seen my mom, so you can imagine the excitement in our eyes when we heard that she was getting to come home. We spent the 4th, surrounded by family and friends, at my aunt Mary’s Brother’s (The Cavanaughs) lake house. As the day wore one, we were curious on when my mother’s plane might arrive.
Finally, my Aunt Mary walked over to us and informed us that my mother would not be able to make it home, as promised. My mother was not strong enough to get on the plane at the time, and ended up not coming home for a little while longer.
When she finally did make it home, we were so excited to see her and give her all of the hugs that we had missed out on while she was away. Of course, the cancer was not going away, even though my mother continued her fight.
Her goal was to get stronger to eventually make it back to California and continue to give her life a fighting chance. She was in Kansas City for a couple of months, trying to regain her strength. She was confined to a wheelchair by this point, which did not help with lifting her spirits.
The summer had came and went, and it was time for me to start my freshman year of high school at Aquinas! Ashley started her 7th grade year and Jack was going to Pre-K with our cousin, Kyle. If starting high school wasn’t nerve wracking enough, I also had to start it with a sick mother, and a dad that was no longer with us.
Finally, my mother was able to go back to California to try a 2nd round of trial. Again, my Gigi, Aunt Barb, and my mom packed their bags and headed West. They stayed there for about 4 weeks to try and do the second round of this trial.
After completing those 4 weeks of the trial, she was flown back to Kansas City. The tumor had moved around her spine, making it extremely difficult for her to walk anywhere. She was in lots of pain, and needed some good news.
While my mom was back in Kansas City, she stayed mainly at KU Med. Most days after school were spent driving to the hospital to spend whatever time we could with our mom. It was difficult, to say the least, as we went through watching our mom suffer so much.
While my mom was suffering from her own cancer, my Gigi (mom’s mother) got breast cancer. Gigi had breast cancer 18 years prior, and fought it and made it through. She ended up getting it again, and had to fight through it a second time, while my mom was continuing her battle. The strength of the women in my family is unreal. These two fought cancer with everything they had to give. Not to mention my incredible grandpa (mom’s dad) who watched over all of his girls. He was the glue that held our family together.
The school year dragged on, and soon it was March, and my freshman year of high school was almost over with. As we went to the hospital after school, as we had most days, my mother informed us that she had some news to share.
My aunt Mary and my Uncle Joey (mom’s brother and his wife) were in the room, along with my Gigi and Grandpa. My mom had us sit on the bed next to her, and began talking.
“Girls, I am so sorry, but there is nothing more the doctor’s can do for me.”