Sunday, February 14, 2010

My story: part II

Once again, this is how I remember it. I'm not perfect so please don't think that this story is. :)

Okay, where did I leave off? My mom was sent to the hospital because her eyes were yellow and the doctors did some testing...(here's the full thing if you need to catch up: Part I)


Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. -Winston Churchill
My mom ended up staying in the hospital for a little bit so that the doctors could figure out what was wrong. I went back to Salt Lake and school because the doctors had sent her home.
That means that she was fine, right?

For the next few months doctors poked her and took samples of everything to try and figure this thing out. Finally, the week of July 4th, when I was in Philadelphia visiting some friends, away from home and my family, my dad called me to tell me that my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He didn't give me details just the comfort that she would have to do chemo, radiation and surgery to beat this thing.
I remember feeling shocked but slightly hopeful because my dad said that she could fight it, and he's a doctor so he knows, right?

At this point in my life I was more concerned with establishing my independence than recognizing that this was a crisis. Life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients is about 5-8 months and in 2009 alone claimed almost 34,000 lives, including my mom's. It is the number 4 on the deadliest cancer list and is recognized as one of the more painful cancers because it attaches itself to blood vessels and nerves quickly. I've done my research since but at the time I just trusted my dad and took comfort in my ignorance.

When I got home I sat down with my family to discuss what was going to happen next. My mom seemed so optimistic about everything and kept reassuring me that she would be fine and I completely believed her. She told me that she was going to have a Whipple procedure in August to get out the "big stuff" followed by chemo and radiation to kill anything remaining, all with a big smile on her face, like always. Just writing it out makes me realize how foolish I was to believe that she wasn't scared to death.
She's my mom and invincible, if she says she can do something she will, right?

Me, being the self absorbed teenager that I was, went about my business of college life. Taking calculus tests, dating idiotic boys, going to parties, not going to class, sleeping in, driving down to see my family when I felt like it, meeting new friends, running for student government, you know, the usual. I wasn't close to my mom at this point. I had mostly butted heads with my parents in high school and was on a quest to distance myself from them and be who I wanted to be. (I hope this sounds familiar to some of you and I'm not the only self centered teenager)

As my mom's surgery date came I went to Lagoon (a run down theme park in North SLC) like any self respecting girl would do. Actually, to defend myself a bit, my entire family was there. My mom didn't want us to wait in the hospital for the entire day and my dad's work was having a party so we went on roller coaster rides as my mom was having surgery.

After surgery and Lagoon we went to visit her after hours in the ICU where she was hooked up to all kinds of machines and drugs. She was half awake, half asleep the entire time. I cried a lot that night. Not in front of her though.
She was being strong so I needed to be too, right?


  1. Every time I read a new post, my heart breaks again. Your loss is cruel and unfair, but I can't imagine someone getting through it with more finesse than you are. I'm so proud to be your friend.

    It's also a good reminder to me of what things are important in life and what's things don't matter. I love you!

  2. Krystal,

    Thank you so much for creating this beautiful tribute to your mom. I have missed her so much, this is a wonderful place for us to go to reflect and feel her spirit. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and her beautiful smile. I miss hearing her sing through the kitchen window, and I know for sure Eliza has gotten away with all sorts of things without your mom watching and keeping me updated!! Please don't look back and have any regrets. We are all blessed to have had your mom in our lives, and I know she is looking down on us and is happy to see the great things you are doing. Thank you again for creating this blog. I love it. love, Lill

  3. Krystal,

    I really enjoy reading your blog, although it is bittersweet. I am feeling many of the same emotions and can especially relate to that feeling of "it's going to be okay," only to have "okay" be a very temporary thing. Your tributes to your mom are very accurate....I have loved and respected her from the time I met her as a little girl. She always made me feel like she understood me and that she didn't see me as a "little kid," even though I was. I feel bad that after your family moved to Utah, I didn't get to have the same contact. However, I know that the move was an opportunity for your sweet mom to meet and touch the lives of many other lucky people. I am here for you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you.

    Love you,