You Can Take the Mom Out of Oncology…

…but you can’t take the oncology out of the mom.

According to the Severe Weather Laboratory, lightning can strike the same place twice.  They say that it could be a statistical fluke, but it could also be something about that site that makes it more likely to be struck.  Any mom-cologist would agree, our biggest fear (aside from death) is lightning (cancer) striking twice.

The fear doesn’t end when cancer ends.  Whether your child dies from cancer, or is a cancer survivor, you spend the rest of your motherly life worrying that your child will relapse, or that another one of your children will get cancer as well.  When Tanner passed away, I had the doctors give Chase 2 CAT scans at the age of 18 months because he spit up.  He had reflux.  But what if it was a brain tumor?  That’s what goes on in the mind of a mom-cologist.

Yesterday morning, Chase woke up with a fever.  He had been coughing for a few days, and we were giving him his inhalers and really staying on top of his asthma, which can also be very scary.  I took him to an urgi-care center in the morning, I figured he had an ear infection, which is not uncommon for Chase.  The urgi-care doc looks in Chase’s ear and says: “I don’t see an infection, but he has a large growth in here that is occluding 60% of his middle ear”.

*cue Momma’s rapid heart beat, light-headed feeling, and sinking pit in stomach* …He said “GROWTH”.

Chase had tubes put in his ears over a year ago.  I knew from the last ENT visit that he had a small pinhead spot over the non-functioning tube, but it was “pin-head”!  60% of his ear?? The doctor had me look into the otoscope.  It was huge! With tears welling up in my eyes, I explained to the doc about Tanner, about losing him at 3 1/2 to a brain tumor.  As the doc started talking to me about putting Chase on steroids for his cough, I saw hell flash before my eyes.  Chemo, radiation, surgery…. and OH MY GOD I cannot lose my baby, please he’s all I have left.  I think I’m going to throw up.  I need to call the ENT now, he needs to see this.  He saw him last month.  He’s going to tell me Chase has cancer.  I think I’m going to pass out.

I told Chase not to worry, and apologize to him because I don’t mean to scare him, and I see his little face when I talk about Tanner, and he sees the tears in my eyes.  I said “Chase, sometimes when Momma talks about Tanner, I cry, but it’s ok, you don’t have to be scared.” Chase says “it’s OK Momma, I’m not scared.  I know you were crying because you don’t want me to go to heaven like Tanner.  But sometimes I want to go there, so I can play with him.” These are the kind of conversations I have with my 5 year old at 9:30 am on a Tuesday.  I should’ve poured vodka on my cheerios this morning.

I get in the car and start driving to the ENT, calling the office to let them know I’m on the way, it’s an emergency, and Chase needs to be seen.  Thank God my ENT is so wonderful.  He saw the look on my face.  He looked in Chase’s ear and tells me the urgi-care doc used an otoscope with a magnifier.  Chase’s ear is perfectly fine, he has an ear infection.

It’s just a plain-old, run-of-the-mill, average kid, normal day ear infection.


It’s a terrible thing,  a terrible feeling, to think like this.  To worry that every common cold, every sneeze, every hiccup, every belly-ache, is cancer.  We mom-cologists, we can’t help it.  It’s ingrained in our being.  My first pediatrician sent Tanner home with a diagnosis of “sinus infection”.  That sinus infection was a brain tumor.  I will spend the rest of my life worrying.  They say that when you become a mom, you live your life as if your heart is on the outside.

When you become a Mom-cologist, I believe the beauty of motherhood is magnified.  The beauty of motherhood is there, with all the love and protective emotions… but you also learn just how fragile life can be, and every ounce of that love and protective instinct is heightened.  Sometimes, it is heightened to the point of fear, and anxiety.

So today I raise my proverbial bowl of cheerios to two friends who talked me off the ledge yesterday while I waited to see the doctor.  Thank you Jenine & Nicole, for telling me I was crazy and reminding me to breath.  I am also sending hugs to all my fellow mom-cologists, because they also know that sinking feeling of anxiety.  I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.

And… to my dear sweet Chase, please don’t get sick, not even a cold, ever again.  Momma’s nerves are shot.

I know, wishful thinking….

Love Always,
Tanner & Chase’s Momma

my heart outside my body

my heart outside my body

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