Month: June 2011

Update on Frankenmommy

So my mom got back from the doctor on Monday. The surgery was canceled because they found legions on both parts of her liver and a growth inside her chest. The doctors can’t perform the surgery to remove the tumors behind her stomach because it would require cutting too much of the liver. Also, because she had been doing chemotherapy for a long time her body became resistant to it, resulting in new growths. The doctor is now suggesting that she try a new type of chemotherapy, but we will know for sure what the actual plan of action is after her appointment tomorrow.

This, of course, isn’t what we wanted to hear. It isn’t terrible news, but it isn’t great news either. Last year after her first year doing chemotherapy, the doctor gave us great news: the tumors were shrinking, and were possibly inactive (dead). This gave the family all this hope. While, hope is not lost, it is deeply disappointing that the cancer is winning this battle. The war, however, wages on.

When I spoke to my mother on the phone she was very calm and wasn’t openly upset. She is a force. My Black Sheep sister called me shortly afterwards and was not so strong. She even claimed that my father was in hysterics crying. My dad is not a cryer.

I panicked. My mother has been known to hide family dramas from me. While I was in grad school our family experienced quite a few traumatic events, and I didn’t find out about them until it was too late to offer my help, or support. I also only found out about them from my sister. This happened recently when some drama went down with Black Sheep sister. Since I now live far away from my family and have been stressed out about my own problems, my sister (the white sheep?) has informed me that my mother didn’t want to burden me with the stress of the family.

Needless to say, that is bull$?@#, but  whatever. This is the kind of person my mother is. She is way too kind, and holds everything in, hence a disease like a cancer.

So, I called my father. He immediately started crying and said, “It’s not good news. It’s very bad.” After asking what the doctor said, he repeatedly replied, “The doctor said, we need a miracle. What does that mean? We need a miracle. It means it’s not good.”

I then chided him for freaking out in front of my mother. Seriously. She should haven’t to show us that she is strong, she should be looking to us for strength, and if she needs to cry.

I called my mother back. The following is our conversation:

Me: Ma, can you tell me why everyone is freaking out?

Ma: I don’t know. Whose freaking out?

Me: Daddy and Black Sheep.

Ma: I see.

Me: They really don’t need to be freaking out. Everything is going to be fine.

Ma: I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s going to be okay.

Me: Exactly.

Ma: Ridiculous.

Me: You should know that you are obligated to come to the wedding.

Ma: I know.

Me: I’m also holding you to your commitment to meet your future grandchildren.

Ma: I see.

Me: So if you have other plans, you’re going to have to cancel them.

Ma: (laughing) Yeah, I’ll put them on hold.

Me: Exactly, because everything is going to fine.


So, that’s it. I’ll know more about future treatments and actions tomorrow.

Black Sheep has been looking into some more natural remedies. Apparently there are diets, and herbs, and all kinds of “home” treatments that people swear by. I think at this point there is no harm in trying them.

If you know of any treatments for Sarcoma, please feel free to link to them in the comments, on twitter (@onemeanmfa), or email them to me (

It’s going to be fine.


Summer Reading Book a Week Challenge

I was messing around with some of the cool features WordPress has to offer. I figured since I could create a poll I might as well as you guys what you want to me review. I made it so that you can comment and suggest books if you’re not interested in the ones I have on my bookshelf. I’m always willing to go to the library and check something out. Suggestions welcome.

I’ll be reviewing whatever book wins the poll, so vote!

Cancer, You’ve Been Warned

An Open Letter to the Cancer Inside My Mother,

How dare you? Seriously. She’s a good person. She wasn’t promiscuous, put up with my father’s bull. She was healthy; wasn’t overweight, or smoked, didn’t do drugs. Her one vice: coffee. Who can blame her, living in this never-sleep-gotta-push society.

She is a wonderful mother. She taught my sisters and I to be ladies. To be good. She taught us about kindness. To not be catty.  My mother taught us about the wonderful relationships women can share with each other. She showed us how women should look at each other as competition but as sisters. She taught us this as girl raised only with brothers. She taught us about sisterhood, and now she teaches this to girls who are troubled. She has taught us what it meant to be a woman, how being a woman is important.

She watched as her mother, too, was ravaged by a brain tumor. Her mother was a guinea pig for the doctors twenty-seven years go. Twenty-eight years in December. My mother used to tell me about how they had cut out so many parts of my grandmother’s brain that she could not express emotion anymore. How she was blind, when I was born (her first grandchild), and would put her hands on my face to figure out what I looked like.

Maybe this is our curse. Our heavy cross to bear. Thankfully, Cancer you’ve decided to spare her brain. I do feel grateful for that. I don’t know if I am strong enough to witness that kind of pain. I’m selfish that way.

My mother is not.

While she’s been fighting you, some battles she’s won (she kicks your ass when it comes to chemo), some you’ve won–nice work taking her lungs you piece of s*#t–she’s also helped my father come back from a quadruple bypass (there’s another health issue that makes no sense on a man as healthy and fit as my dad), she’s taken my Black Sheep Sister into the house having faith that Black Sheep Sister will overcome her drug addictions, relationship with our father, and other issues. She’s been standing by me as I prepare to enter the sacrament of matrimony. My mother has helped my father grieve the deaths of both his parents, and has watched her father slip into the deep depths of Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, she’s been to prayer groups, prays the Rosary everyday, and still works.

If you were looking for a good person who doesn’t deserve to suffer, you found her.

Throughout life, we hear phrases like, “life isn’t fair.” Really? You’re kidding? My mother is walking proof of that. What I don’t understand, is why her. What did she do to deserve this?

Maybe that’s just it. Cancer isn’t something you earn. Cancer is evil. It’s calculating and cold.

Cancer doesn’t pick its victims the way society wishes it would. How often have you heard, “Poor thing, she doesn’t deserve this.” Who does? No one deserves to suffer this way. No matter what wrongs have been committed.

I think what makes Cancer so evil is not that it randomly selects its victims. Not even that grows so quickly, taking over like a horrible weed. Showing up as spots inside someone’s lungs, eventually running through their veins, in and out of one’s arteries and veins. It’s how it inflitrates and infects families.

I’ve watched as my father cried worried about his wife not being able to sleep in her own bedroom because of renovations. I’ve watched as my sisters worry that they too will be infected by Cancer. I’ve seen the horrible pity in the eyes of my friends when telling them about my mother.  For a while, I felt horrible that you might make me miss moments like picking my wedding dress or anouncing my engagment to her. Cancer, I worried you’d take that from me. Luckily for me, she is fighting bravely.

I pray my sisters will be so lucky.

The thing that bothers me most is that while I worry and pray that my mother will defeat you (don’t worry, you prick, she will), I also worry that you are stealing moments from her. Moments she deserves. Watching my sisters graduate, seeing all three of us marry, meeting her grandchildren, and knowing her great-grand children.

I’m not writing to beg you. I’m writing to warn you. She’s been fighting for five years and if there is one thing I get from my mother it’s that when I want something, I go after it. And you bet your ass, I won’t stop until I have it.

And Cancer, I want my mother around for a long time. I strongly suggest you pack your things and leave. We’ve all had enough of you.

I’m not kidding asshole.

You’ve been warned,

One Mean MFA

The Stomach, and Pancreas, and Liver, Too

As you know, my mother is battling Sarcoma, a cancer of the soft muscle tissue. She was scheduled for surgery this week and she called to tell me that her doctor had canceled the surgery. Of course, no one explained to her why that is. She mentioned something about how the doctor wanted to perform a few more scans. She told me he was supposed to call her today to explain and schedule an appointment, but never did. My mother seemed very calm on the phone.

She joked about how the operation was going to include her spleen being removed, parts of her stomach, pancreas, and liver too. She laughed about it. Saying, “Oh, Doctors suck.”

That’s all she said. She wasn’t crying. She was laughing.

She also laughed at my grandfather’s funeral, because sad things make her laugh.

It’s quite late as I write this. I have a spinning class at 6 AM and my alarm is set to go off in about 5 hours, but I can’t sleep. All I keep thinking about the scenarios that would result in my mother’s surgery being canceled.

Possible scenarios (I’ll start with the worst and work my way to being positive).

1. There is no point in doing the surgery.

2. They need to check to see if the cancer is spreading and this will result in an even more invasive surgery.

3. The tumors are too big.

4. The tumors are all over the place.

5. The chemo was working really well, so maybe they want to go back to just doing chemo.

6. They want to scan her tumors once more to guarantee that they are not active.

It could be anything. Maybe it’s something silly like the doctor was called off to some emergency surgery and can’t squeeze my mother’s procedure in.

I do think it’s not cool that they didn’t tell her why she didn’t have to finish her pre-op stuff. I don’t know how she stays so calm. I’ve been hysterical for an hour.

After a few texts back and forth with FH, I decided to just stop worrying and write about my feelings.

I told FH that I was worried and then I wrote, “I just love her so much and don’t want her leave. I am so worried.”

It then dawned on me that I was being selfish. I need to chill the eff out and pray for my mother instead of think about how I need her.

Shame on me.

Today at mass, I spent most of my time praying that God and the Virgin protect my mother and help her heal. I even asked the priest to pray for her. Then about an hour later my mother called. God works fast and mysteriously. Apparently.

I’ll keep you all posted on the situation.

The Steak Beckons

While I love a good four day work week, my unemployment situation has me all confused. My eating and workout routine is all off, my book a week challenge came to a halt, my sleep schedule is messed up, and on and on. I’m kind of glad America is back on schedule, because maybe I too can get back on schedule.

The dietician and I created a schedule for me. I have officially (it’s on the fridge so it’s official) set aside time for job hunting, writing, watching TV, and working out. I was supposed to be on this schedule last week, but couldn’t get into it.

I’m a TV whore, and love watching The Today Show. I always get caught up in the Money 9-1-1 segments, or the fashion segments, and I love Hoda and Kathie Lee. I swear I’m like an old lady stuck in a twenty something (late twenty-something)’s body.I get back from my 6 am torture spin session and Matt Lauer, Ann Currie, and Meredith suck me in. Then after two hours of having done nothing but made my breakfast, I find myself unable to get focused. I also love watching reruns of Frasier, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Friends. There isn’t an episode I haven’t seen at least a dozen times, and yet I sit there laughing.

I’m a loser.

I don’t know if I can give up the Today Show, but I will try to turn off the TV tomorrow morning and actually utilize my schedule. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get some writing done. I’ve been working on a few short stories, and an essay, but my novel needs major revision and my memoir needs work too/needs to written. In grad school, I had a writer friend who called short stories “fun fiction” because he’d work on the little projects in between the big projects in order to get  through the sometimes hard ass drudgery that is novel writing. Since I’m not working and have plenty of free time I’m going to try and use that mentality.

I think I need to read more short stories though. I’m always in novel mode because I’m always reading longer works of fiction. I have a few collections I’ve been meaning to check out since grad school. I bought them and they are sitting on my bookcase getting dusty. As far as teaching, I love teaching stories, but I love reading novels. What about you? Do you have a preference? I should devote a post to this.

Well, now that my brain seems to be cleared of the cob webs, it seems like forever since I’ve been in contact with you readers, I’ll get to work on some other stuff.

Other stuff includes:

a) the thawed steak on my kitchen (it’s kind of early for dinner, but that’s never stopped me before).

b) the essay I’ve been meaning to write for about a month. It only has to be about 1000 words. Honestly, get it done lazy bones.

c) I have GOT to outline my memoir. I’ve been having issues with the organization of the memoir. I don’t know if I should read more memoirs or just get writing. I can’t decide on the structure, the tone, really none of it. Also, should devote a post to this.

d) I need to reread what I have of my novel, so I can decide what I want to do with it. After letting it marinate in my file cabinet and on my flashdrive for about a year, I think it’s finally time to finish it and send it off. It would be super awesome to get that thing out into the world by the time the wedding comes along.

Sometimes, after I write these random journal/diary-like entries, I wonder what you readers think of them. So please, tell me. Do you hate them? Want me to focus more? What do you want?

I can’t promise I’ll give up these random here’s-what’s-going-on-in-my-brain posts, but if you hate them, I can limit them for sure. Or warn you at the beginning of the post.

Okay, the steak beckons.