It is with honour and gratitude that I introduce our guest blogger today, Katie!
Katie’s the beautiful blonde holding the cutie in light pink in this photo.
We have journeyed through motherhood together as our oldest children are only months apart. Her daughter being a few months older than JC. We have now journeyed through our mom’s having cancer. Her mom being diagnosed two seasons before mine. Her mom is on the right of this photo. They celebrated a wonderful Christmas together as a family!
I feel humble gratitude for Katie going ahead of me on this crazy cancer journey with my mom. I really appreciate all our parking lot conversations and hugs!
Here’s Katie’s story:
I first met Joanna at Baby Talk (a parenting group here in Vernon), over 6 years ago. I think we literally had our babies in our arms when we first met. JC was maybe 3 weeks old, and my daughter was 2 months old.
Then our babies grew into pre-schoolers, and they went to the same pre-school together. Because the pre-school relied heavily on parent (and grandparent!) volunteers, both my mom and Joanna’s mom volunteered often at the pre-school. I know the kids loved it when a grandparent got to volunteer. It seemed to be something extra special. (I think all the kids even called them Nana!)
Before we knew it, pre-school was done and it was time for our oldest “babies” to start Kindergarten. It was September 2012, and my daughter and JC began Kindergarten at the same elementary school. It was an exciting time. Then a week into that school year, my mom was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. I remember explaining to Joanna this devastating news when I first found out my mom was sick. For some reason I remember telling Joanna in the school parking lot. I could barely say the word “cancer” out loud. It was too new, too raw of a feeling. At the time I didn’t know anything about cancer. I struggled with the thought of losing my mother, and I struggled with the challenge of being present for my own two daughters at the same time.
I remember seeing Gwen volunteer in JC’s kindergarten class that Fall. I loved seeing this energetic, smiling Nana stroll the halls at the school. A couple of months later, Winter 2012, I would see Joanna, Steve and the boys skiing up at Sovereign Lake. And quite often I would see Gwen with them. As I watched this amazing, active Nana walk around the lodge, I remember wishing my mother was healthy enough to take on an activity like cross country skiing. My mother was only an hour away in Kelowna, but while I watched Gwen I remember missing my mother terribly. Even though my mother was only an hour away in Kelowna, at home, I was already grieving.
Flash forward to Spring, 2013. Joanna shared her concerns about her mom, and the change in Gwen’s health. I think Joanna also told me this in the school parking lot. (It’s funny what you remember when you’ve had intense conversations) Over the next few weeks I did my best to share with Joanna some parts of my mother’s cancer journey. I told her what I knew about chemo, blood tests, markers, anxiety, oncologists, social workers, CT scans, etc. It’s steep learning curve if you’ve never encountered all of this terminology before.
I think it is a strange and powerful grief when you learn your mother is terminally ill, and that one day she will not be around to “mother” you anymore, to share things with, to watch her be with your own children. Because we are mothers. And yet we are also daughters who need our own mothers. And although I didn’t know your mom well Joanna, I’m sure she was extremely proud of you as her daughter, and who you’ve become as a person, and as a mother.