Almost a year ago, I was faced with a high probability, sad, “good bye”.
A good bye, that I couldn’t believe I may have to be facing. She is to young to die. How am I supposed to go on with life without her?
Those days, while they seem so long ago, in retrospect they seem like just yesterday.
Nine months ago, my families life was turned upside and shook dramatically.
Nine months ago, my younger sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 Incurable Metastatic Carcinoid Cancer.
Nine months ago, my life changed.
Now nearly a year later, we’re getting ready to say good-bye to Kelly, but not in the way we once feared. We will be saying good-bye to her for five months, while she lives out her life long dream of attending school in France.
A year ago, we didn’t know if we would have Kelly with us, a year from now. And yet now, a year later, she has been give the green light by her oncologist to study abroad. How amazing is that?
As I watch her begin to prepare for this huge milestone in her life, I’m constantly sent back to that night when her diagnosis became a reality. A night that I replay over and over again in my head, often still daily.
They say when you are given traumatic news you remember EVERYTHING about the moment and a year later I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I have yet to share how I found out, because I wasn’t ready yet to talk about it. Like everything else, time heals all – not to mention Kelly being so strong has really helped me finally feel ready to share that night on my blog.
My side of the story…..
I was in out of town and visiting Arizona. For days my mom had been pestering me asking “when are you coming home.” I knew she was going to freak, when I told her how long I would be gone, because I was missing school during my final quarter, so I kept putting it off. “I’ll look tomorrow….”
Well, after nearly a week of “I’ll look tomorrow,” I found out why she was so inquisitive about when I would be returning home. She had some really big news to share and wanted to tell me in person – not over the phone, nearly 1,500 miles away.
It was Easter 2012 Night.
I had spent Easter in the sun lounging by the pool and enjoying the HOT weather of Arizona. Life was good. I was doing my favorite thing in the world, sunbathing in the sun! I even took the picture to the left….Everything was perfect.
That night after all the kids had gone to bed, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on homework (remember I was missing school to go on this vacation), Julia had also gone to bed and Alec and his parents were watching TV. My phone lit up and it was my mom calling.
I hadn’t talked to her yet that day, so assumed she was calling to wish me a Happy Easter. I happily answered the phone and excused myself to talk to my mom. It was still warm out and I went out to the front patio to talk.
As soon as I answered the phone, I heard the uncertainty in my mom’s voice. It immediately sent me into a state of panic. I knew something was wrong.
I still remember my body temperature shooting up and my heart racing – this was before any words had ever come out of her voice.
Then I hear her say, “Cori, do you want to know why I’ve been so persistent about finding out when you come home?”
Immediately running through my head was the knowledge that I was about to receive life changing news. My perfect vacation was about to be clouded.
My response to her was, “No, not really …. do I need to go take an anxiety pill before we start?”
Yes, I told my mom I didn’t want to know and was ready to medicate myself.
My initial thought was my parents were getting a divorce. Why I thought that I don’t know. Them getting a divorce would be a huge shocker, because they are so happy. But, that was where my mind went. It was the only thing that seemed possible. Never once did I thought the “C” word was going to come out of her mouth.
All I remember at that point was ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more.
My head was spinning, my heart was racing and tears were flowing.
At this point, I sat down on the lawn chairs on the patio. Asking every question imaginable and to my horror, she had no answers.
- We didn’t know what kind of cancer
- We didn’t know what stage of cancer it was
- We didn’t know if it was life threatening
- We didn’t know if she would need chemotherapy. Or radiation. Or surgery.
We didn’t know anything.
At this point, I’m sure she knew I was losing it and being 1,500 miles away there was nothing she could do to help. She asked me to go get Julia so she could talk to her. Shakily I set my phone down, went in the house and woke Julia up.
This time it was my turn to tell someone about the cancer and again all I remember was telling her ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more.
Julia shot up and joined me outside. She and my mom talked for a long time.
It then came down to my understanding that all our questions would be answered at the big appointment on Tuesday. My mom wanted me to have the opportunity to attend if I wanted to. After talking and some thought, I decided I didn’t want to be there for the meeting, in fact I wasn’t ready to go home. My hope was the craziness of vacation would keep my mind off of all the unknowns.
After we hung up it was time to go inside and again tell people ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more. However, this time I had Julia who was able to fill in some of the blanks.
The next two days we kept busy. Everyone was wonderful about trying to keep me distracted, which was exactly what I needed. The distraction included a trip to an Ostrich Farm….bet you’ve never been there before!
However, even as distracted as I was, the ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more kept creeping back into my thoughts. Somehow I had to make it through the day until the big appointment the next day.
Tuesday FINALLY came and I waited for my mom to call as soon as they got out of the appointment.
The call finally came and that’s when I heard the diagnosis. Stage 4. Incurable. Cancer.
We also learned that neither chemo, radiation or heavy medication could fight it. We were dealing with a new and very rare cancer.
Luckily, they had caught the cancer early and it was very slow growing they believed. She would need to have surgery immediately, but the good news is we had time on our side.
Metastatic Carcinoid Cancer is still a fairly new cancer. There isn’t a lot of research being done on it yet, but it is rapidly growing. We have great hope that we have enough time for them to find a cure or way to slow the tumors down that our coating her liver.
If this is your first time reading my blog, I invite you to read more about this rare cancer and see how many family is living with it.
Now, nearly a year later, I am so thankful that we have this year behind us. I’m so happy to see Kelly packing and planning her trip. I’m so honored to have her as a sister.
Kelly and I aren’t BFF’s. Nor do we get along, but (even though my mom doesn’t see it or would we admit it), we have grown a lot closer throughout this obstacle.
I will miss her when she’s gone. I will cry when she leaves. But I am so happy to be saying Good-Bye for five months, and know that she will be back home before I know it….and not forever.