My Son Saved My Life

My youngest son Josh saved my life. Not literally. I mean he didn’t rush into a burning building and pull me out. Nor did he administer CPR and bring me back from the edge of death. However, he did more than anyone did during my cancer journey to bring me back to among the living.

Before I was diagnosed with both polycythemia vera and breast cancer, both in 2016, I grabbed every opportunity I could. The crazier the notion, the more I wanted to attempt it. This was especially true of athletic type activities. If you asked me to run a marathon or participate in a relay that went halfway across Texas, I always said, “count me in.”

My devastating diagnosis

My three kids saw this side of me most of their early years, as I often dragged them along. Whether it be climbing an America Ninja Warrior-type obstacle course or on a whim, drive two-plus hours to Austin to see their favorite band at the time, Imagine Dragons... on a school night.

Diagnosed with both cancers, back-to-back, completely devastated me. When I started treatment, between the chemo, medication, and surgeries, I became lethargic and lacked enthusiasm for doing much of anything other than making it through the day. I was depressed and feeling sorry for myself. It affected all three of my boys leaving them wondering what happened to their once adventurous mom. Of the three, Josh took it the hardest.

Josh is a lot like me; always curious about what is on the other side of the hill. Josh is also a planner. By elementary school, he was arranging our large annual Thanksgiving dinner by himself, down to the intricate menu.  He even coordinated a neighborhood bike race, Tour de Comal Trace, complete with trophies.

The historical road trip

Therefore, it was no surprise that at some point after about a year of moping around, Josh convinced me that we needed to go do something. The Historical Road Trip was one of his first ideas. Josh was a big history buff. Me, not so much. My eyes tended to glaze over when it came to history. I still wasn’t feeling too well at this point. I had recently undergone a bilateral mastectomy, was easily fatigued and my feet were always hurting from the polycythemia vera. Standing for any length of time was excruciatingly painful.

However, I didn’t want to disappoint him, so on one summer day, Josh, Joe (my middle son), and I headed out on our trip. We started at the Alamo, and stopped at every historical marker (and trust me there are a ton) heading south. We spent the night at the Presidio La Bahia in Goliad, which was fascinating... and perhaps a bit scary with a 3:00 am visit from a possible ghost. I learned so much from that trip and it gave me the boost I needed to begin to move forward.

More adventures ahead

One of our next ventures was a trip to Lost Maples State Park where we climbed a steep 1000-foot elevation change, my out-of-shape heart pumping vigorously as we ascended. When we reached the top and looked over the surrounding park, I felt alive. More alive than I had felt since I was diagnosed with both cancers.

The San Antonio Ghost Tour that highlights the apparition sightings downtown was how Josh wanted to celebrate his birthday with his friends that year. All the standing was a bit brutal, but the whole experience was quite thrilling. A few weeks later, we went biking along the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. With the 100-degree heat and many more hills than I remember, I was sweating so profusely I could barely change gears. However, when I finished I felt  unstoppable for the first time in a long time.

Since then we’ve had many more adventures, climbing high, seeking out the unusual, and gaining strength. Although I will likely never be where I was before the cancers, I am content (mostly) to leave my crazy times behind. I often wonder where I’d be if Josh hadn’t pushed me to get off my butt and start enjoying life again. Thanks, Josh for saving me!

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