Wake Me Up When Chemo Ends

Yesterday I told my mom that if she wanted too I could keep giving her sleeping pills and let her sleep her way through the rest of chemo. Making the joke, “wake me up when chemo ends…” Much like the famed Green Day song, “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”

I told my mom that dad (stepdad in case you get confused later on in the post) and I would wheel her to her chemo sessions and take care of all her bodily needs. She gave me a weak smile and a slight laugh.

The thing is, you’ll do anything to make someone you love laugh when there heart is hurting.

Ironically the song is written about Billie Joe Armstrong’s (Green Day’s frontman) father passing away of cancer when the singer was only ten years old. So I guess my joke had an even darker meaning then originally intended.

Armstrong sings,

“Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost…”

I can’t help but think of my mom. Every Monday her storm of chemicals hits, falling from the IV tubes that trickle into her port. She is drenched in her pain and her realization that cancer and chemotherapy is becoming who she is right now. She will never again be the same Laura.


She will now and forever be a cancer victim and then surviver. And when the decision is made between mastectomy or lumpectomy my mom will never forget what she lost.


Everything is and will be different from here on out. They way she looks, the body she has always known, a year of her life lost to cancer.

It makes me so mad. No one is deserving of this.

Lately I have been seeing her emotions laid out before me like a Sunday brunch. The à la carte of human pain.

In a lot of ways my mom’s cancer is reminding me of when my dad died. For the first couple of months we were stormed with, “I’m sorry,” “Poor babies,” “You’re dad loved you so much!” Not to mention the flowers, cards, sympathy calls, and casseroles. But once the initial shock wore off my brother and I became nothing more then the kids who lost their father. No more cards, flowers, or casseroles, just the pity and the new identity. Never again would I be the free spirited child who wanted to be the next pop star even though I sing like a chicken smoking the good stuff. I was forever changed and rebranded like a company who lost funding and had been bought out. I suddenly became the Western Family version of Grape Nuts. No longer the original product. I was now tainted by life. At eleven years old I knew what it meant to not only to loose a father but to loose a life. Summers spent tubing on my aunts boat, forget about it. Mornings rushing up my grandparents stairs eagerly awaiting my grandpas delicious maple syrup…gone. Time and distance changed everything. 

In the time it took for my father to fall off that building my world spilt, into young and free to, too young to be this wise.

I am 26 now and no matter what way I shake it I’ll never be anything other then the girl whose dad died. I am not saying I am not other things because I am. I am mother, daughter, wife, writer, photographer etc. But the fact will always remain the same. I am the girl whose father died. An identity that I can redefine time and time again as the seasons change, but a fact nonetheless.

Because when a hurricane hits the destruction is always there, no matter how much rehabilitation is done. My mom will never ever be anything other then a cancer victim and then surviver. She is other things too, just like me, but the fact remains the same.

My loss in marked in scars on my heart, the faded memories in my head, and in a marked tombstone in a Spokane cemetery. My moms loss in marked in every mirror she looks into. Every photo taken of her prior to diagnosis is a reminder of what she lost.

Yes, this post is a little dark and moody, perhaps even over-said. But, lets not forget that even though the initial shock of diagnosis is gone she is still living through it.

Cancer is still there stealing pieces of my mother away like freaking Hannibal Lector.

So mom, I am angry, annoyed, and tired for you. I can’t imagine your pain, as I have stated before, but I know that this too shall pass. As contrite as that sounds. You are a warrior. You survived depression, divorce, death, being a single parent, college, a teenage me, abuse…and many other things that I won’t announce publicly . I know you know that you can survive this too but I just want to remind you that you’ve got this. Keep your head up. Your heart strong and run this race.

I’ll congratulate you when chemo ends and not wake you up. Live through this. I know you can.

Romans 5:3-5

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”



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