Can I have a mom-ent: “It is what it is”

Before I even start, I want to say this: whether you’re a devout Christian or have a foundation that is rooted in some faith or religion, or you’re someone that has beliefs that are more secular, I want to be the first person to tell you that this is place where I intend on speaking about real life. I don’t care if our values differ, or even if we agree. I firmly believe that everyone’s individual story can influence another human being so profoundly that it can move people to enact meaningful change within their lives and within the lives of those closest to them. I am, in fact, someone who is rooted in their own spiritual beliefs. I believe that there once was a man that died for me, and I look to try to emulate his teachings within the way I walk through life. However, I want you, the reader, to know that this doesn’t change how I view, feel, and love you as someone who is taking the time to read about someone else’s story and life. I always feel it is relevant to discuss the writer’s lens because knowing where the writer is coming from, in my opinion, helps the reader understand the type of path they walk.

M y mother has, and always will be, the first person to ever truly understand me. It’s really a fascinating thing: the mother-son relationship. Truthfully, any relationship between mother and child. That type of connection, that type of relationship, makes me think about the forces that are at work to develop a bond that deep. She is one of my best friends and she will always be the one person I can turn to in any situation. She is the most unbelievable support system that I could ever dream of, but she isn’t shy to let me know when I’m being an idiot (and trust me, I’ve had my fair share of “what are you thinking” moments). No matter my celebrations, nor my shortcomings and mistakes, she has always pushed me to be better; to strive for something more than what was given or placed before me. There have been times where we have argued, yeah, what family members don’t butt heads from time to time? The thing about those times is that somewhere in the back of mind, she has always been right. Now I’m not saying my mother is perfect, but in my eyes, she has never done anything wrong by me. She has always treated me the way I deserved to be treated and gave me the guidance I needed when I might have not known what I was dealing with in any given situation. I honestly could write a book on why my mother is the greatest, but the beautiful thing is that I’m not the only one that thinks their mom is wonderful. MANY sons and daughters think that way about their parents and will stand by that. That’s what makes family so special; the fact that you have a group of people that will stand by each other through ANYTHING.

N ow, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with anything…. I don’t like beating around the bush, so i’ll just put it this way: there are 4 words that I can use to sum it all up: Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. Now if you’re like me, I’ve always tried to avoid the scientific/mathematical/medical jargon and terminology. Stage 4, for those of you that don’t know already, means that it has spread from its original location to surrounding organs and/or areas of the body. In her case, it has gone from the upper-middle portion of her pancreas, and has spread to her lymph nodes and adrenals. To most, that might sound like a lot. To my mother, father, brother, and I…. this is nothing. We are fighters. We stand by each other and we push each other. The difference about this situation is that we can’t shrink down to “Osmosis Jones” size and handle it ourselves. Quite the opposite, we have to allow other treatments and people take care of this complicated task. That might be the hardest pill to swallow as a stubborn human being: it’s a mixture of humbling yourself, while at the same time finding the best possible words to say, all wrapped up in a bow of confusion and uncertainty of what will happen next…. It leaves you wondering how families have been able to do it ever since cancer began. I feel that it comes in waves, and your progress in stages, but if there is anything I know, it’s that we will continue to fight, just like we always have. We will fight alongside my mother and continue to do whatever she needs of us.

Here’s a little side note for you all: I was a kid that grew up in a household FULL of privilege. I had the chance to work chores for decent pay. I was able to play select sports and travel. I was able to walk into stores, businesses, schools, and organizations with one or both of parents and not worry about the racial injustices and unfair treatment that plague this country. I was also able to think about college without the burden of handling my own financial aid, or whether or not I was going to be able to go in the first place. I was able to find a great job that hired me before I graduated. Now, months later, they have given me the flexibility to move back home and be my mom’s primary caregiver, while keeping my employment with them. I have had a lot go my way, without realizing it until I got into my program in college where they taught how much I actually had. I recognize my privilege and know that I still have a long way to go to enact meaningful change.

I t is what it is”, my buddy Mike has been saying this consistently since I met him. At first, I looked at that saying as a way to shrug off what was currently on his plate to more pressing matters. However, now that I’m in this current situation, I think I’m beginning to understand it on a deeper level. It’s more than just recognizing something. It’s about how things are going to be the way that they are going to be. No matter how many preventative measures we take, or carefully we weigh our options and chose the best possible option, things are going to happen that are truly out of our control. These times can definitely be positive, but as humans, we always tend to lean towards analyzing why the bad situations occur, rather than reflecting on why the positives are such a beautiful thing. However you look at it, I view this as one of those times where I’m able to think deeply about how precious a gift life is. I think it’s important to have those conversations within yourself about life because it puts everything back into perspective. In times of distress and discomfort, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s in front of you, and look at how bad the situation is in the here and now.

S o here I am…. sitting in medium sized hospital room, waiting for my mom to kick this thing off. Up until this point, nothing has gone according to plan. Our family believes in a strong and powerful God. We know that he has something in the plans for all of us, but we are trusting in his process, in his time. I want to take this time to thank a lot of you out there that have already been invested into this journey. On my end, I want to thank a variety of people: Mike, thanks for inspiring me and giving me much needed guidance along during this process and showing me what “it is what it is” actually means. Brendan and Trae, you have always been the go to’s. Thank you for remaining consistent and allowing me to go to you two when the journey has been difficult. Vanessa, you are, without a doubt, the love of my life and I can’t imagine going through life without you. Thank you for your patience and unconditional love through everything. Thank you for being there. Additionally, thank you to the staff at Secret Harbor: Jon, Caylie, Shannon, Heidi, Cori, Emily, Mauri. Thank you for covering my work and cases while I take this extend leave of absence. On behalf of my mother and family, I want to thank Highlands Community Church for all of the prayer/prayer circles that are endlessly looking out for my mom. Pastor Jay, Sue W., Jay M., Morri, everyone, thank you for being our family in Christ. To the staff at Valley Medical, Dr. Burke, Dr. Aurora, Dr. Yin, and every single nurse that has had a hand in on my mother’s treatment, we are deeply in debt to you for the work that you are doing in this place. Last and CERTAINTY not least, our family. From the crazy, overprotective cousins to the members that are still trying so desperately to find the words to vocalize what they are feeling, you all mean so much to us. You give the 4 of us strength and encouragement to stay the course. We love every single one of you guys and we look forward to seeing you all soon! This is going to be a long road ahead, but as the late Stuart Scott put it:

“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live” — Stuart Scott

Regardless of what happens, lasting memories will continue to be made and love will continue to be poured out. God bless, and much love.

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