Sally's Smile


My mother was diagnosed with a very rare form of lung cancer June of 92. There was no known cure and she was given 10 months to 5 years to live. I was a young mother, 22 years old and my son was 6 months old. My mother was my best friend and was a huge part of my son, Blake's life. My father spent hours searching for any information regarding my mom's cancer. She entered many trial studies ( none which worked ), I watched in horror and deep sadness as the once incredibly beautiful woman was reduced to a hairless, gray toned, weak woman. The chemo proved to be as toxic as the cancer itself. She went all over the country looking for a cure, changed her diet and truly believed she would beat it ( as did we all ). My mother had a way with people and was very popular. She would truly listen to you and you would always walk away from a conversation with her feeling better. She even made you feel the x-rays showing growth in her lungs was an okay thing but she was still going to beat it.

Breathing became harder for her, she no longer walked most placed and used a wheel chair to get around out of the house and in the house she used a motorized car/chair. My son now three loved to play on the chair and she would give him rides often. I live 35 min. from their home but made a point to go over to my parents home a least once a week. We have a vacation home in the mountains and vacationed together often. This year she realized she would no longer climb the 60 some stairs to get to the cabin and a $14,000 life support system would have to be installed if she were to continue going there.

She started a new experimental chemo in a hospital near her and to relieve my father, Blake and I began taking her to chemo. She had a porta-cath put in and Blake was always so interested in her treatment.( as any 3 1/2 year old would be) He would bring life and joy to the cancer unit in the hospital and the nurses all loved him and my mom. I would watch as they put the poison in her silently dying inside wanting to run away from that place and the truth it brought. We tried to explain to Blake as honestly as we could about my mom's cancer and her "sickness" , she was still a huge part of his life. He called her Gaggy she would explain it was 1/2 grandma 1/2 cookie because she was always giving him cookies. For months I'd take her to chemo then back to her house, make her lunch, visit, then return to my home. We talked every day sometimes more then once. She would advise me , comfort me, and love me. We talked openly about death, cancer and all of that. I remember a conversation a few months ago when we were talking how well she was doing, and I told her I'd bet she would have three more years left, she responded up beat " at least! " This last Sept. I found out I was pregnant again and due two days before her birthday, ( due May 10th ). We were so excited. She was going to be my birth coach again ( my husband is too nervous for that sort of thing ) That same month her Dr. said he felt the chemo was no longer working and had no recommendations, perhaps after the first of the year.

One comfort we had was the cancer was very slow growing. She decided to go with a Eastern style of treatment of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I took her to San Francisco once a week. Blake my mom and I would go on Tuesdays to the city. She would sing San Francisco open your golden gate to Blake when we were going over the bridge. After her "treatment" we'd go out to lunch to a different style of food and then some place fun. We made a day of it. Her hair had grown back in and looked beautiful again . We found out I was having a girl and her name was to be Brooke. My mom was so excited. She and my father planned a trip to S. Africa. We had been in 83/84 and my mother always wanted to go back. The Dr. took an x-ray of her lungs and said he felt she was okay to travel. She received her results from the x-rays over the phone but told us all there has been a small amount of growth. My husband, Blake and I went to their house for dinner a week before they were to leave. I had been put on bed rest and could no longer take her to SF so this would be the last time to see her before her trip. I was sitting with her and Blake when the baby moved inside my stomach I went to take her hand when she told me it was a much bigger deal for me to feel the baby move then it would be for her, but I should know after the baby was born I wouldn't be able to get the baby out of her arms. I cuddled up to her at some point that night and breathed in her scent and felt her warmth that only my mom could give. Blake's birthday was Jan 12, the day before they were to leave and they were going to come over for dinner. That day Blake got the flu and we had to cancel dinner until they returned. My dad said they would call every Sunday and off they went.

The following Sunday morning ( Jan 21) my dad called as scheduled. Only he told me mom was in the hospital on a ventilator and it didn't look good. The doctors wanted to see if she had an infection but it looked like it was the cancer had grown. She was breathing at 20% on her own and after 12 hours we decided to remove the ventilator within minuets she died in my father arms. That was one month ago today, I miss my mom, my friend, so much. I have a good support team and knowing I am carrying her granddaughter is inspiration to keep on going. I wish my daughter could meet her "Gaggy" and my mom could watch Blake grow. This is the longest I have gone without talking to her. I truly miss her so much. Blake has already changed. I am so confused and lost right now and I am so, so sad. I am 26 years old and I have no sisters, grandparents, aunts, and now no mom. I feel so alone and frightened. I would give anything to hug her and breathe her again.


AS you know my wonderful mom died Jan.21,1996. I was four months pregnant with my daughter. I went into early labor from all the stress, so not only was I dealing withthe loss of my mom, but now too, the possible loss of my daughter. With lots of support and great medical care I carried my daughter full term. She was born on her due date, two days before my mother's birthday. She was born with an "angel's kiss" on her back. My doctor said that was where my mother kissed her goodbye.

With so much happening I postponed the grief. I didn't mean to, it just happend. I cried and was deeply sadden, but not morning. I began seeing a therpist which has helped a lot. The shell I built aroung myself is beginning to crack and now I'm moving into a deeper stage of grief.

Without my mothers strength the family began to crumble and fights broke out. One of my brother's became greedy and accused my father and I of disspursing the will and leaving him nothing. My mom's only sister didn't come to the funeral and we haven't heard from her in almost a year. It's so strange.

My mother was my piller, leader, teacher, sound board, friend, and soul mate. I could not imagine a life without her. Yet somehow I have gone on. I go through all the daliy motions that comes with two kids and a house ect.... I have had to make some big decisions without her council. I still find myself reaching for the phone only to remember she is not there.

Cancer is a horrible thing. I hate,hate,hate it! I know five people who have it. Some are bad off, others are better. I can't stand to hear the new brake throughs in treatment. Sometimes I hope they never find a cure. Selfish I know, but the thought of my mom miss the boat and knowing if she had only lived a little longer for the cure would haunt me. I am bitter, I'm not proud of this, I can't help it.

The deep, dark hole that I was in is almost gone. My life is manageable now. I still only feel dull emotions. Even my daughter, and son who are the lights of my life only bring me some joy. I do have faith that I will be back to the happy-go-lucky self again someday. I miss that person, I really liked her.


You can send email to Elise at [email protected]
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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW