Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fashion Takes A Backseat

My Mother
I had noticed that my mother's breathing was labored once she finished climbing the stairs at home.  And since she does water aerobics at the YMCA three times a week and is always on the go, I thought it strange.  "You sound like Darth," I remarked, referencing the breathing of the super villain from Star Wars.  I didn't think much of it, but she said she would pay her doctor a visit.  So she had her heart checked and blood was taken and her doctor said she was healthy as a horse, but he wrote a script for a chest x-ray.  It was after her x-ray that my mother learned she had cancer.  The day she confided in me that she had been diagnosed with THYMOMA, it seemed like the air was sucked out of my life.

Darth Vader
After dealing with the deaths of a host of relatives, including my maternal grandmother and my father (and all his siblings), I feared that my mother would suffer the same fate.  I was in shock and I felt disconnected from life.  The day after this bomb was dropped, I confided in some of my friends and colleagues at the plantation.  It was a woman named Gwen who convinced me to call Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the renowned and respected cancer hospital.  She had worked diligently to get her mother-in-law into the hospital and then stood by her side as she fought lung cancer.  Over the years, I'd heard so many glowing testimonials about the hospital.  Gwen's testimony awakened me from my cloud-like existence and I immediately called my mother to get her insurance information.  She had already scheduled her surgery with another doctor at another hospital, but I convinced my mother that we needed to try something new, something I thought would increase her chance of survival.  She said, "Okay."  Things began to move fast as she got the results from her previous tests sent to Sloan and scheduled appointments for additional tests.  Arming ourselves with information, the battle had begun.

When my father passed, my sister was only fourteen years old.  His death really threw her into a tailspin.  Her teenage and young adult years were pretty tough.  I didn't know what kind of impact this news would have on her.  I wanted to protect her from the truth, but there was nothing I could do to change the reality.  So I arranged for us to meet after work.  Over cocktails at TGIFriday's in Lower Manhattan, I calmly relayed the news.  There were some tears, but she soldiered on.  And a couple days later, my sister and I arranged a conference call with my brother and sister-in-law who live out of state where we broke the news to them as well.  My mother confided in my aunt, her only sibling, who resides in Texas over the phone one afternoon.  Collectively, we decided that we were going to keep a positive outlook.  With the best doctors in the city tending to my mother at the best cancer treatment facility in the city, optimism has been in no short supply.

This Friday past, my mother came through surgery with flying colors.  We are waiting to get the final word from her doctor after the pathology, but it seems that her cancer was detected and removed in its first stage.  She may not need any radiation and she definitely will not need to undergo chemotherapy.  I continue to remain in prayer as my mother recuperates.  I look forward to seeing her smiling face in the audience when I present my collection in September.  And I expect to see her, healthy and beautiful, for so many more seasons to come because we are conquerors. . .

Peace & Fashion!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Wilbur! I am so happy to hear that you were able to make things happen so that your mom would get the best care - and the the surgery was a success. As someone who has had several older women in her life who have struggled with similar serious health issues, I know how scary it can feel, but your positive spirit is a huge part of recovery. Your mother is blessed to have such a great son - all of you are in my thoughts. Thank you for such an inspirational blog!