Survive & THRIVE: Compassion Campaign for Shannon
On March 5th, a day before her 45th birthday, my mother, Shannon, called me crying from a parking lot after walking out of what was expected to be a standard exam. She told me there was something wrong and that they had found a "highly suggestive" mass. Following the biopsy and an anxious, week long wait, she was diagnosed with an aggressive triple-positive breast tumor. There is no appropriate time to be struck with that bolt of news.
At that particular time, in this particular reality, she was in the middle of uprooting her life: preparing to escape the hustle of the inner-city East Bay to retreat to the northern hills and re-launch the holistic childcare business she had operated from our home for the majority of my childhood. It was the manifestation of a vision that had taken flight long ago, pushed her to go back to school for four years, attaining her degree in Early Childhood Education (despite years of prior education) in hopes of finally landing the prosperous and sustainable lifestyle that is so hard to attain in these trying times.
That bright future she had been working for suddenly seemed dim and distant upon diagnosis.
Luckily, to be blunt, my mama is one badass babe and, with a few little loving reminders and a lot of support, she is facing this challenge with tenacity.
She has been recommended the full spectrum of treatment: surgery, 12 infusions of chemotherapy for 12 weeks, antibody injections every three weeks for a year, 20 rounds of radiation in as many days, and hormone blockers for up to a decade to come... a horrifying path that she must take to survive... unfortunately one that has been tread by thousands before her.
She underwent surgery on Friday, April 26, which consisted of a lumpectomy and insertion of the arterial port for the coming treatments.
She raised me on natural remedies and the idea of going through the standard protocol is a terrifying necessity. Upon diagnosis, she dove into research on homeopathic options to treat, cure and prevent cancer recurrence. She dropped every unhealthy habit in a day, started juicing and adopted a "cancer-friendly" diet, has been attending meditation and support groups, and has done extensive research into all of her available resources. She is hoping to maintain a vital state of mind and body through treatment and intends to commit to continuing such a lifestyle upon full recovery.
Her previously reliable, though feeble, income of in-home childcare is not, currently, an option as chemotherapy protocol strictly prevents contact with children, during and for some time following treatment.
Not only does this break my mom's heart, as working with kids has always been one of her greatest joys and callings, it cuts off her ability to earn money and will inevitably eat into the scarce savings that were intended to be used to take first steps towards the beginning of a thriving life... not assist in the scrape through survival into a bleak and daunting future of further scarcity.
She currently resides in a hotel-room sized studio attached to a multi-unit house, paying $1500/month. Add that to car insurance, internet, medication for the symptoms that accompany chemo, a healthy and conscientious diet, cat food, etc... it piles up really quickly. Not to mention the cute collection of head wraps and scarves she deserves to wrap around her head when her hair falls out...
As a single mother and independent entrepreneur, she has managed to meet each obstacle and setback with a fierce will for life and recovery, but it's been a long road. She has stressed enough just trying to survive the world, let alone this. While getting through these next several months will be a challenge of its own, imagining what will be possible and attainable after it's survived is a-whole-nother stress ball.
I firmly believe that the mind has a powerful affect on the ability to prevail through trying times. I want my mom to have the assuredness that there is something worth fighting for as she traverses this rough path.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed her go to the most amazing lengths of selflessness. Her childcare was a practice that illuminated and enlivened the hearts of many little souls throughout a decade; she taught us yoga and meditation, how to dance and feed animals and pick up the trash in our neighborhood because, "Mother Earth loves us and we should love her too."
She adopted practices oriented toward helping others: holistic healing, volunteering at shelters, advocating for women and children survivors. Even when we were struggling, she would make a point to give to those who had less, to show me that there is always something to offer, be it a granola bar or a dollar or a toothbrush or a smile.
Shannon, my mountain mama, has always been so courageously, outrageously, amazingly inspired to serve, to help people and to make a positive impact. She taught me to be willing to give.
Now I want to help her to receive.
She deserves to know that she has peace at the end of this dark path, that there will be berries and room to breath beyond the thorny thicket...
I want her to know she is not alone.
May the energy and love that you send be returned to you in the flow.
Thank you so much for reading and sharing.