A Story about Community

Two and a half years ago, if you have been following along here on Mamatoga, my mom was going through breast cancer. In a frighteningly swift succession, she was diagnosed, surgeries were planned, and we braced ourselves.

At the time, my fourth child was just a baby, not even a year old, and I frequently would accompany my mom to the hospital for the pre-surgery testing with Talley in a sling because I couldn't leave her for that long without nursing her. My older brothers both live on the West Coast, and it was not something I wanted my mom to go through on her own. So there we would sit, in the corridors of Saratoga Hospital, while we waited. I was still kind of in shock that the whole thing was even happening. My mom is, hands down, the strongest woman I know. She was tough, she was no nonsense, to me she could get over anything. And so while I had this hyper positive mindset that of COURSE she was going to beat this, I was also terrified like I never had been in my entire life.

I didn't want to lose my mom. I couldn't even fathom losing my mom. I needed her, too much. The thing was, this was the sort of thing I would talk to my mom about. Only I couldn't, because she was the one going through it. The last thing she needed was to know how scared I was. I'm sure she knew, because she knows everything, but I didn't talk about it. And because I didn't talk to her about it, I basically just didn't talk about it. Phone calls with my brothers stayed close to just updates on what was going on. I felt like if I let myself talk about it I would cry in front of her, and that was the last thing I wanted to do.

So there we were, Talley and I, her in the sling, me on an uncomfortable plastic chair, while my mom was getting a particularly painful pre-surgery procedure done. At this point, we still didn't know what was going to happen. We had been there for hours, it was late in the day, the baby was cranky, I was tired, and I just felt like the only person on the planet sitting there at the end of this hallway in the back of the hospital. And I cried. I cried big fat huge self indulgent tears because I was scared of losing my mom. This unbelievable rock of a woman who I felt could do anything, she was now needing me in a capacity I wasn't sure I even knew how to perform. I needed her to tell me it would all be okay, but she couldn't. And so I cried.

We happened to be in this random, out of the way hallway, and I was grateful because I was nursing the baby and I didn't want to be next to anyone in an actual waiting room, so I didn't really mind the uncomfortable chair. And a woman approached me, a woman who worked at the hospital. She asked me if I was okay, she told me she had been there in the same position, she could understand what I was going through. She told me, it would be okay.

She somehow told me the one thing I needed to hear.

She offered me some resources too, for families going through a loved one's diagnosis. She was kind, and soft spoken, and smiled at me and just made me feel incredibly not alone for those few minutes we chatted. She asked me if I was comfortable and if there was anything else she could do for me.

Soon after the woman and I had talked, my mom came out of the room, and off I went again at her bedside, saying a quick goodbye and thank you. Back to the waiting and the pretending like everything was good and the putting on a smile and a brave face and my strong, incredible mother tried not to cry because she didn't want to make me cry. Two women not crying so the other wouldn't cry. That's what mothers do I guess.

Two years passed, and my mom came through the breast cancer diagnosis healthy after a double mastectomy. It was behind us, but the way she went through it only showed me just how strong she was. How much stronger I could try to be, myself.

A few weeks ago, I was at the first Well Mama Workshop at Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, and Erin, a vendor for Wildtree Organics, came in to set up her booth. She looked familiar, that happens a lot with the website, but in the back of my mind I was like "I know this woman". I had Welles, my newest babe, in the carrier and she was getting fussy, so my mom came by to take her back home, and that is when Erin happen to walk by us both together.

"You might not remember me, but I met you guys in the hospital a couple years back". Instantly I remembered her, and she had only remembered when she saw my mom and I together.

I have to say, I almost cried. To be able to connect with her again was so special to me, and I could tell she was truly happy to see my mom there healthy and happy, holding her granddaughter. That is why I love living in a community like Saratoga. It feels like a big city, but you have these small town moments that make you feel so connected. Erin explained to us that she is a nuclear medicine technologist and has been at Saratoga Hospital for 7 years. She often sees breast cancer patients prior to their surgery and usually they are still in shock about the diagnosis, and she said she really tries to comfort them and try to ease the fear that most are feeling. She wanted to be part of the Well Mama Workshop because she believes many of our societies health problems that she sees at the hospital are rooted in our environment and lifestyle of today's modern world and she chooses to reduce exposure to chemicals and toxins by choosing whole, real, organic foods and Wildtree is one way she does that, in addition to buying from local farms as often as she can. (find more from Erin and Wildtree here and here)

I want to say a big thank you to Erin for being such a kind human to me that day in the hospital. It meant the world to me. xoxo