A Letter to My Mother's Cancer, Liposarcoma

Liposarcoma is a very rare form of cancer that forms in the fat cells of the abdomen.

Dear Liposarcoma,

When I first heard about music legend David Bowie’s passing from cancer, it broke my heart. Not only because he was a great musical talent, but it was a bone-chilling reminder how lethal cancer can be. It made me think about Mom and her battle with you, too. It’s a stark thought to know if you continued to silently grow, you would have eventually devoured her.

Justina’s mother.

Liposarcoma, I don’t know where to begin. Your name alone conjures up so many unsettling feelings. So many people have lost their mothers to cancer, it’s overwhelmingly nauseating. Cancer is nothing new to this family. We’ve faced thyroid and skin cancer in the past, and were successful. Unfortunately, you’re in a class all your own.

When I first heard of your presence in Mom, I was angry. Angry at every cell of your existence. It made me sick to think you formed as a Stage 3 tumor in Mom’s womb. The womb where my brothers and I began our existence, our first earthly safe haven.

Like a devastating tsunami, my anger was quickly overtaken by my fear, when Mom was scheduled for emergency hysterectomy surgery on November 30, 2015. As much as Mom tried to assure us how common hysterectomies were, when I learned that she had a 50/50 chance of surviving the surgery, everything inside of me felt like it was going to collapse. As much as others around me told me to have faith, I struggled with my deathly fear of what would happen to her as a result of removing you. My family’s hearts were still struggling with the death of Grandpa in April. We couldn’t handle losing Mom, too.

The day Mom went into surgery, the world felt like it stopped spinning. It felt as though I was in the Twilight Zone, desperately trying to find reality. Nervously, I clung to my cellphone, hoping they could remove you without hurting Mom. The surgery was scheduled to take only two hours. Yet, after two and a half hours, there was no response.  Multiple thoughts started to race through my mind: Did something go wrong? Was there a complication? Is Mom safe? What’s going on? With no response, the next few hours passed at a snail’s pace. I was in a nightmare from which I couldn’t awaken.

Finally, I got the call. After five hours, the surgery was done. Mom made it through the surgery, but with numerous complications and a blood transfusion. Before the surgery, I didn’t realize how fragile Mom had been. It was far more complicated than we realized. Even with the surgeons removing the tumor, like trash left after a parade, you’re still lingering in Mom’s abdomen. To make matters worse, there’s also a suspicious mass in her breast. If that mass is another tumor as a result of you, then Mom’s planned radiation might not be enough.

Liposarcoma, I’m bewildered. I was raised to forgive those whose actions hurt us and those we love. I struggle to forgive you. If you were destroyed, then maybe I could forgive you. But you’re still killing Mom. I hate the pain and suffering you’re causing Mom and our family. However, if I continue to hate you, that hate will consume me. It’s frustrating. Realistically, I can only take you on one day at a time.

There are times I break down under the needless pressure you place on my back. Yet, no amount of tears will cure Mom. None of us will be at peace until every corrupt cell of your existence is destroyed. I realize you’re not going to go away willingly. Although Mom has suffered numerous complications in her recovery, it still hasn’t discouraged her. Seeing her look healthier gives us hope.

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