Please help make this journey for my mom a lot less stressful, help pay bills and transportation expenses over the next few months while she's going through a Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) transplant and healing.
This morning I woke up feeling well rested. Today I had plans to go tour a distillery. I showered, used too much shampoo and validated it by saying “I have a lot of hair.” I brushed my teeth with, again, too much toothpaste.... “Because I want to make sure my teeth are nice and clean.” And even with the fact that I watch my mother suffer daily, I still took every one of these things for granted. The past year and a half I have watched my mother slowly lose every bit of her identity, robbed from her like it was never hers. Her energy was the first to go, but that was what led to the diagnosis. Chemo then took her hair. I cannot believe myself. I laugh daily about the amount of shampoo I use while my mom would love to be able to run her hands through her blonde, shoulder length hair. She is where I get my blonde hair from, that gene came strong. Cancer started to affect her career, the first blow was to her at home business that she has masterfully increased her sales year after year, building her small Avon empire, proudly walking the path of a small business owner. That business slowed as she started focusing on her health. Six months after her diagnosis, chemo took another thing...it took the cancer! We found the light at the end of the tunnel. She fought; she won! But only for a while would she hold the crown of cancer survivor. We celebrated; she laughed so hard with friends that she broke her ribs! But when a broken shoulder soon followed, the questions raised the doctor’s brows. Her energy decrease just as it had the first time around. I hopped out of bed this morning and complained about my achy knee because I did a strenuous workout yesterday. My mom barely slept last night, woke up stressed, every part of her body hurting, and emotional drained. I would too if I had all of my teeth pulled yesterday. I brushed my teeth and took it for granted, groaned as I took the time to floss. She didn’t get to brush and floss today. She lost another piece of her identity...her smile. That smile! Every one of her kids got her smile. She didn’t want to smile today and be reminded of what yesterday took from her. For anyone to go a day without smiling makes every piece of my heart hurt. Chemo took her teeth yesterday and is attempting to take her spirits. She needs some help to restore them.
A little about her story:
Struggle has been haunting my mother for the past 25 years. A failed marriage left her raising 3 children by herself, while trying to go to school, and working. Any single parent can relate to how difficult that is, being 2 parents to your children and financially providing for your family off of one income instead of 2. The earliest I remember feeling our woes, but definitely not the only time, I was around 6 years old. I stood on a chair in our kitchen while my mom washed me off with a washcloth and a bucket of water. She bought the gallon of water from the store and washed me with room temperature water because both of our water and heat had been turned off. We were evicted from the same apartment. We had 24 hours to leave and my biggest concern was the fact that we weren’t able to take the TV. We left some things behind because we just didn’t have the means to take it with us. I was heartbroken. My heartbreak’s now look a little different than some belongings left behind. Financial burden has been weighing my mother down for 25 years because she wanted to be happy again. In a marriage that she had to escape, from the father of her 3 children who choose not to be a part of our lives even after the divorce. The want for her happiness has left her fighting ever since. After our eviction, some church friends took us in until my mom, who was now pregnant with her 4th child, organized our next living situation with my now my youngest brother’s dad. This was the first father figure I have ever had in the house. He was gone for work quite a bit though, he helped support us all. The next blow was also the biggest blessing! My precious little brother was born with Down Syndrome. After he was born I saw a whole new side of my mom. She committed her entire life to making sure Matthew received a normal life, normal schooling, and normal treatment. Every week he had speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Now, at 17 years old and a Junior in high school on track to graduate, the kid is a superstar. He performs by dancing and singing in competitions and talent shows. He plays every sport he possible can. Bowling and drum lessons come every week. He even joined the high school archery team and is breaking personal records every competition. She did that for him. She pushed him and treated him like he can do anything. Now he is on track for college. I was the first in my family to graduate college. I paved my way through soccer; money was never going to get me there. My oldest brother recently finished as well. Joining the Army was his way in. While my family danced around the poverty line for most of my life, we all seem to have learned that you get what you work for. I do that every day. I work every chance I can. I have a full-time job. I have a part time seasonal job refereeing soccer as well. There isn’t enough time in the day for me to work for what my mom needs. I want to give her everything I have. She gave me everything she had, and even if it wasn’t a lot, it was enough. I want her to have enough now. Enough not to worry about whether or not she will make rent. Enough not to worry about the monthly bills. Enough not to worry about whether her tires and brakes will make it through the winter as she commutes multiple times a week 45 minutes one way to the hospital providing her care. Enough to cover Matthew’s expenses while he is at home under my Grandmother’s care as my mom is hospitalized for up to 6 weeks through the holidays. Enough to replace her identity that this awful disease has taken from her.
You won’t find anyone more deserving of a little help. She has always been someone who gives what she can. While she might not be making massive donations to different organizations, she donates what she can and that is her time. Her community involvement is admirable. She has volunteered her time coaching several different youth soccer teams for well over 20 years. She has started almost every TOPSoccer program in Kentucky giving opportunity to any child or adult with special needs a chance to play a team sport, a chance to feel included and a chance to socialize with their peers. Her health in these recent years has hindered her from putting as much time into these. She dedicates numerous hours every year fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House, who helped her 17 years ago when Matthew had to have open heart surgery to repair his heart and valves. She puts what little time she has left from all of these things earning her Basic Archery Instructors License to allow her to increase her involvement with the high school archery team where she volunteers many hours weekly.
July of 2017, I sat in the doctor’s office listening to the doctor tell my mom to prepare for the idea that she has cancer. After the normal run of tests, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Massive tumor’s sat in her liver and on her spine while over 20 golf ball sized tumors filled her abdomen. 6 months of ABVD chemotherapy followed by 3 weeks of radiation took care of the cancer this time, but the doctor warned chances of relapse were high. Just inside 6 months of remission, a reoccurrence emerged August 2018. This time I sat in the doctor’s office and listened to him tell her it was rare and aggressive. To see the person that your whole life has taught you how to hold your head high, to fight, to be the best, to see tears fill their eyes and defeat fill their soul, it will break the heart of even the toughest. This cancer was in her bones. This was the cancer that took a funny story of breaking your ribs laughing too hard with your friends to being the first awful sign that it had returned. Soon following this diagnosis she received 3 straight days of radiation to her shoulder, where they found the cause of her shoulder break was in fact another tumor. In October 2018 she started a cycle of an intense ICE chemotherapy for 3 days. November brought one more cycle of the ICE chemo for another 3 days. December is where the test begins. Her only wish when this second journey started was that she would not be hospitalized for Christmas. We had plans for the entire family to get together. Unfortunately that wish won’t come true. On December 12th, my 26th birthday, I will watch my mother report to the hospital for a treatment with risk and a lot of unknowns. At the beginning of December the doctors harvested her HCT. This is the beginning of her Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) transplant. This is a scary time as she does not know how much she will be able to work. Each paycheck means something. The length of stay is unknown. On the 12th she will start 6 straight days of chemo to completely kill her immune system. On the 7th day, they will re-administer her HCT and start growth injections. Once her levels are stable and safe she will be able to go back home with a family member or friends by her side 24/7 for the following month. This could take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. Even once home it is unknown how long it will take her to recover. Doctor’s appointments will consume her days. Her body will be tolled. She still may not be able to work.
Our family has always been prideful. While sometimes it might have held us back, it teaches you that you work for what you want, and then you hold your head up high while you gleam with admiration over what you accomplished. But how do you work for this? How do you work to pay for everything cancer takes? How do I give my mom back everything she gave me when I am limited myself? How do you replace the two years this disease has taken from her?
I am grateful to still have my mom. Some are not so lucky. While I may not be able to fix the last 25 years that she has endured struggle, and while I cannot replace the 2 years cancer has taken from her, the one thing I can do is ask for help for her. She needs help, her family needs help, and we need help. I can’t make an entire lifetime easier for her, but my hope is that through this struggle of hers, she can focus on her health and not have to worry and stress about finances. I don’t want her to have to worry about how she will pay the rent. I don’t want my little brother to have to wash off with a washcloth and the gallon of water that was bought at the store because the water and heat were shut off. I don’t want them to have to move from their home of almost 8 years now and Matthew watch as he leaves some of his belongings behind. We are not asking to be rich. I just want my mom to focus on getting healthy. I want her immune system to strengthen quickly so she can go home quickly to her family and her home business. Stress will not allow that quick healing. I have been prideful my entire life. Cancer took that from me. I can’t fix everything, I can’t work for everything, but I can ask for help. If you can't donate, please share the link to reach others who might. Thank you, Jerrica Scovel