A Mother’s Prayer

To all you wonderful, caring people,

Cancer warriors, much like Marines, have a slogan to live by.  Our slogan is Semper Gumby which roughly translates to “You’d better be flexible.  In fact, be prepared to be twisted around in every way possible.”  My treatment start date, for instance, has been moved up from August 29th to August 22nd.  Why?  Well, I very much wanted to participate in an ongoing clinical trial to determine the effectiveness Vorinostat (SAHA) in treating patients with my form of cancer, glioblastoma multiforme.  After negotiating with the folks organizing the trial, my doctors were able to come up with a compromise.  I would get to add Vorinostat to my treatment if I were willing to start treatment a week earlier.  It actually wasn’t much of a compromise on my part.  Fact is, I’m raring to go.  It suits me fine that I’m starting treatment next week instead of waiting for two weeks.  

The date change is the only bit of ‘business’ I’ve got to report, but I would like to share something else — something that’s been weighing heavily on my heart for the past few days.  Late last Wednesday night, while I ought to have been sleeping, I became overcome with a terrible sadness.  I began to cry and my crying must have been pretty noisy because I woke Paul up out of a dead sleep.  Naturally, he wanted to know what was going on with me but I wasn’t anywhere near ready to discuss it.  I’ve pretty much kept it all to myself while I let the matter percolate.  At this point I’m finally ready (I hope) to discuss it.  What I have to say might disturb you — so, if you’re allergic to tear-jerking stories, you might want to stop reading here.

Wednesday was the night that it finally dawned on me that I’m not the only victim of this brain cancer business.  The surprising diagnosis, and the major lifestyle changes, and the plans for invasive treatment all coming together so quickly had put me in a state of shock.  But now the shock has waned sufficiently for me to be able to look past my own suffering and take note of what all of this is doing to my daughter.  When I finally got out of my recent funk I saw that the pain and suffering I see in my daughter is palpable.  She’s hurting, and I’m the cause.  Can you imagine what that does to me?

To know me is to know that the only thing I ever wanted in life was to be was a mother.  Even when I was little myself, I couldn’t imagine anything better than to have a child to love and to teach.  God bestowed upon me the great good fortune of seeing my choicest dream come true in July of 1991, when my beautiful, beautiful Angelique was born.  You who are mothers will know what I’m talking about, and you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I have always had a ‘sixth sense’ with respect to my child.  Her every glance, her every movement reports volumes about what is going on inside her — and what is going one inside her means more to me than what is going on inside me.

In many ways, my life began when Liqa entered our family.  From the beginning, my husband was gracious.  He said, “You’ve already done everything I need you need to do.  It’s time for you to devote yourself to our daughter.  We can manage on one income.  There’s no need for you to go back to work until you are completely ready.”  That was the greatest gift possible — being able to spend two years uninterrupted with my developing child.  I put so much effort into the job of learning to become a mother!  I read every book I could get my hands on.  It was as if I had Penelope Leach on speed dial.  Angelique was going to have the very best I could give her.

I remember the very moment when the reality of it set in for me — Paul and I had just returned home from the hospital and, after giving Liqa her first tour of the house, we sat down together on the couch.  I said, “What the hell do we do now?”  Paul laughed and said, “Our job, Pam, is really pretty simple.  We’ve got to make certain that Angelique knows that she is loved, that she knows she matters and that she knows she belongs.”  I gave him a dumb stare for a moment and then said, “Well, how the hell do we do that?”  

Then we heard the buzzer.  Our neighbor and pediatrician, the wonderful Dr. Ableman, was at the door.  He let me in on a very important secret, “Listen to your daughter.  There’s a person in there.  She hasn’t learned to speak yet;  but she’s always communicating.  In her every sound, and in her every movement she’s telling you ‘This is who I am, and this is what I need.’  Let her be who she is, not who you think she should be.”  Even to this day I think his advice.  I think it has helped me let Liqa be who she truly is.

Nobody anywhere has a more loving, more precious daughter.  But now, I have to witness her fear, her sadness, her anxiety — and I can’t do a single thing to ease her burden.  I feel as if I’ve let her down.  I feel as if I’ve let Dr. Ableman down.  Liqa has never run away from life’s tough decisions; and, in my illness, her decisions have demonstrated what a really fine and truly unselfish woman she is.  The basic truth is that she’s put her life on hold to give me the help I need.  I never wanted it to come to that.  I’d give anything to set her free, to let her enjoy being young; but I truly do need her now. Why should I be a burden at this age?  That’s why I was crying Wednesday.

I have to believe that God has a plan for us — and He’s revealing it to us step by step. Everyone has been so wonderful during this hectic, horrible month; but I don’t understand why this beautiful child — why any child — has to endure this kind of pain.  I know, I know, she’s technically an adult — but she will always be my baby.

Baby and me — on her 21st birthday! (Two weeks before my diagnosis)

In one sense, Paul signed on for this.  After all, when you marry, you have to agree to that whole “sickness and health” bit so both bride and groom know what they’re getting into.  Paul also knew that I wasn’t one to suffer in silence.  When I was pregnant, for instance, I promised him that I’d make sure he suffered as much as I did.  Paul will be quick to assure you that I kept my promise!

On the other hand, you don’t have any choice about the terms of agreement when you’re born into a family.  It kills me to think of what this is doing to Angelique.  Of course, as much as you try to protect your children,  sometimes things are out of your control.  This one is definitely out of my control.

I pray, every night, that Liqa’s going to come through this and become a more compassionate, more trusting, more appreciative human being.  I want her to learn how important it is to ask for help.  I want her to know that she can be supported, and that she is loved.  I want her to know that when problems come along it doesn’t mean she’s asked for them and it certainly doesn’t mean she deserves them.  More than anything I want her to know that life is good.

Life is good!




About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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17 Responses to A Mother’s Prayer

  1. Pingback: [Post from Paul] Who’s Interested? | My Walk With Jesus: My Heart is on the Journey

  2. so beautifully written..so eloquent,so true…liqa is so fortunate that you are her mom

  3. Deb Wishner says:

    Pam, this is so beautiful and so touching. Maurya and I had the privilege of witnessing your love for and great relationship with Liqa from the time you and Paul moved into Whitcomb Street to the present. You are a wonderful mom and you do have both an amazing daughter and an amazing husband. Both of whom, of course, love you very much. I am so glad you have one another (as well as the love, support, prayers, etc. of everyone else who loves you) during this challenging time. Love, Deb

  4. joannemessier says:

    Pam, Paul, and Liqa~ You have amazing friends too! I love reading the responses on this site. Everything everyone is saying, I THINK. I just can’t speak as eloquently!!

    Hope things are going well. I know how exhausted you must be. Lots of love going out to you~

  5. Mary Newman says:

    Hey Pam, best of luck tomorrow….I will be thinking and praying for you…
    I love you, BFF!

  6. Kim Donoghue says:

    Hi Pam! I wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you. I was in your daughters position years ago with my father and it’s certainly not a fun time to see someone you love so dearly suffer so much, knowing that you dont have any control over anything. What I learned all those years ago is my dad was a great example of a human being as he touched so many people in his volunteer efforts, coaching and endless support that he gave his family. The fight that he put forth to live a happy life with his family and friends despite his diagnosis was the most inspiring thing that I had ever seen. You are a great example of what a mother should be and an inspiration to so many people. Your daughter is very lucky to have someone so precious as you. Good luck tomorrow with the start of your treatment. I’ll be thinking of you! xoxoxo

  7. Amy Ko says:

    You are an awesome mom! I’ve not had the chance to yet meet Liqa. From all of our past conversations, I know how much you love your daughter and how proud you are of her! You are a great mom and it pains me to read this as I know watching her go through pain must cause you so much more anguish and emotional harm, while you undergo this battle. Saving a seat for you on the 504 for a happy return!

  8. Molly K. Johnson says:

    Oh Pam, your hard work has paid off exponentially. Angelique is the beautiful person she is because your mothering (and Paul’s fathering) gave her the love and grace she needs to be that person. Of course she put her life on hold to come help you when you need her the most. Of course she jumped in the car when Paul called her from the hospital. You showed her that’s what love is. Just as Jesus showed you. “Greater love hath no man (or woman) than He lay down (or set aside) His life for His friends.” Captain Catholic and his crew are living the Gospel. Those of us who stand beside you can only pray that we would have such grace. Loving and praying for you all.

  9. joannemessier says:

    Pam, this posting was difficult!!! for me! You are just incredible. Love to you, Liqa, and Paul. Good luck with the upcoming treatments. I am blown away by your strength and love. Joanne

  10. Mary Newman says:

    Pammie, wishing you the best of luck on Wed. the 22nd from all the “cool chicks”. We went to Slate for lunch on Friday to celebrate Maria’s birthday, it wasn’t the same without you. We all paid with our debit cards in your honor!
    Love love love love you!
    Mary, Maria, Leanna & Sabby

  11. Heather Colleary says:

    Thinking of you Pam- keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers!

  12. ronald lancaster says:

    I will be thinking about you on the 22nd.  I hope you are not too sick, and too exhausted from it.  I imagine you’ll have good and bad days. Thank you for the adorable birthday card and the message.  I will hold you to a beach vacation next year.  i know it is also Paul’s birthday soon (!9th or 23?)  Please wish him a happy day from me.  I will give him a call, too. Love you so,  

  13. Julie Lancaster says:

    Beautiful words. I have been saying to you for years “You and Paul did everything right.” I now undertsand where it all comes from. Dr Ableman should have made a tag to go with each of his families ” Instructions for care: Listen to your child!” You listened and you are still listening. I salute you and Paul as parents. A FUNCTIONAL FAMILY LIVES!

  14. Kathleen Flett says:

    You’ve done everything right Pam. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to adopt “Semper Gumby” as my personal mantra from now on. Angelique has been given a wonderful role model. Blessings my friend.

  15. Karla says:

    you are remarkable

  16. Maria O'Brien Hylton says:

    You are one of the best moms I’ve ever seen in action–good judgment, kind support and a great sense of humor. Angelique has had the good fortune to have fabulous parents and she will continue to benefit from the love of both you and Paul. She also has extended family and a whole group of SH people who stand ready to provide help whenever she wants/needs it. It is amazing to me that in the middle of all of this you are focused on what it is doing to those around you….

  17. auntiekim0223 says:

    Pam, it’s Harry. I’m sitting in the woods of Maine with my daughter. I know what you mean! I miss you, my friend!

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