I’m on day 2 of a 24 hour stomach bug.
Yesterday was marked by body aches, nausea and a massive headache (most likely caused by the lack of coffee). Today my stomach was still “iffy.” I really couldn’t take another debilitating headache, so I had a small cup of coffee. I knew that wasn’t going to cut it, so the first thing that came to mind was my mom…and…burnt toast.
There are an infinite number of instances throughout the course of my childhood and teen years that I heard, “Burnt toast is good for you. It cleans out your stomach.” In most of those instances, the unfortunate condition of the toast was accidental. However, my mom, never one to waste, told us it was to be eaten…for our own good, of course.
I grew up both believing and doubting this theory; yet, the first thing I go to when one of us is feeling “blah” is burnt toast. It seems like such sage advice. And, oddly enough, it works, sort of.
Now you may think my mom is some kind of master manipulator or brain washer, but it’s actually her ability to accept, believe and persevere that have helped her through many difficulties in life. One such “difficulty” is her battle with cancer.
She was first diagnosed with Lymphoma a little over 18 years ago. I was pregnant with my first child when she had her cancer ridden spleen removed. As I stood over her in her room at Sloan Kettering, I can remember being worried that she would never see her grandchildren grow up and that they would miss the opportunity to know her. She accepted the diagnosis like any ordinary issue that had come up that needed to be dealt with, so she could move on.
The surgery and initial treatment seemed to go well until several years later when she got sick around the winter holidays and didn’t show signs of improving months later. By then I was pregnant with my third son and after consulting her doctors in NYC, we realized that chemo was the best treatment for the Hodgkins. She handled the news with some trepidation, but believed God had a plan for her. She moved in with us and started her treatment at Johns Hopkins.
It was a rocky start for sure. I watched her suffer through bone marrow biopsies, numerous blood tests and scans. Her first treatment landed her in the hospital with a near fatal case of pneumonia. While my sister and I wore hospital masks, she wore a faint smile every time we entered the room. She was resilient, fought back and was able to continue her treatment.
She continued to struggle with the side effects of treatments nausea, weight loss, extreme fatigue, as well as the obvious discomfort from being endlessly poked and prodded. There were times she was so weak, she couldn’t manage the stairs and Aaron would have to carry her. She continued to persevere. Every time she was able, she was reading her Bible and Daily Bread and was, without a doubt, endlessly praying.
God saw fit to get her through that time in her life. The Hodgkins is considered cured at this point. She still carries non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It is thankfully a slow growing cancer for her that hasn’t caused her any further issues. She has been an amazing grandmother to her grandkids and they adore “Gram,” her baked goods, her generous gifts, and her love for them.
So, I’ll be eating burnt toast today…and thinking about my mom.