On December 25th 2016, my Oma was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, one of the rarest forms of cancers. 1 in 132 diagnosed with cancer will be diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and, out of those, only 50% will survive the maximum 5 year life expectancy. Watching a loved one battle cancer is terrifying, but regardless of how I felt, from diagnosis to passing, I was with my Oma every step of the way. I was with her the day she received the dreaded call and I held her hands until she took her last breath. In my 21 years I can say that watching one of the most important people in my life battle cancer was the hardest thing I have ever experienced.
1. The First Stage of The Cancer Diagnosis
During the summer of 2016 my Oma began to experience a lot of pain in her hips, but was too stubborn to go see a doctor. It wasn’t until December of that year that she was admitted to the hospital. My Oma's diagnosis came that Christmas, and I was overwhelmed with confusion. There were emergency surgeries in the beginning to, make sure her body was healthy enough to fight the cancer and the whole family dropped everything to be by her side. It was overwhelming, scary and frustrating. How was the healthiest woman I knew sick? Was she going to be okay? I didn't know what would happen next, and the fear of the unknown consumed me.
2. Highs and Lows
In June of 2017 my Oma went through her first major procedure: a stem cell transplant. A stem cell treatment is a complex procedure and she had to fight hard through the entire process. Going to the hospital during the days of this procedure was difficult for me. I was seeing my Oma in the most vulnerable and fragile stages of her life. She bounced back from that procedure and with the help of chemotherapy, gave us hope that she would be okay. Unfortunately it did not stop the cancer from fighting its way back. Having to watch her go through another new trial and holding her hand while she was in pain took a toll on me. It was something I wished more than anything I could have just taken away from her. It wasn’t until 2018 when her health really started to go downhill. My Oma was very holistic in her health approach and decided to go to Mexico for treatment, which involved intense therapies like Ozone therapy. I travelled to Mexico twice, once with my younger brother during exams and once by myself after Christmas in 2018. To this day I am so grateful to have been able to spend those moments with my Oma even through all of her struggles with new therapies. As much as I wanted to believe that these treatments were helping her get better, they weren't. In the summer of 2019, I traveled to all of the east coast provinces with my Oma in her RV. She was strong enough to drive for hours and we would sleep in Walmart parking lots until she got enough energy for us to drive on. It was the best trip we have ever been on together and one of the highlights of my life. I didn't think for one moment this would be our last adventure together.
3. Final Goodbyes for a Lifetime of Memories
The Fall of 2019 was the hardest time for me and my family, as we watched my Oma’s health deteriorate firsthand. The cancer was eating away at her and all I could do was hold her hand and comfort her while she cried when the pain became unbearable. It was in those moments that I started to come to terms with the fact that I was going to lose my rock, but a part of me still refused to let go. On January 1st 2020, my Oma lost her battle to cancer. Being there through everything my Oma had to endure was the most difficult experience I have had in my life, but I am so thankful for every memory that was created because of it. She will always be my guardian angel and I miss her dearly.
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