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Life Things: FAMILY. TIME.

Life ThingsJean Chung2 Comments

I have been very careful about sharing too much about my family life online and have been very good about putting on a brave face.

But I decided to write about this because I feel like this is THE time to ask for prayers and good vibes.

When I found out that we were expecting a baby, we arranged for a trip to Korea right away. My parents moved back to South Korea when I was in law school for better business opportunity so that they can finish supporting me and my sister through school. 

After I finished law school, passed the bar, and got married, finally almost ready to take the baton from them and do something for them, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.

At first, she didn't even want to tell us, but we knew she was going for a biopsy and when we didn't hear anything back from her, my sister and I assumed the worst. When she finally told us, we were actually relieved--because we've heard that Stage 1~2 breast cancer is relatively "easy" to cure.

She did the standard treatment -- chemo and surgery. All her hair and nails fell out but she survived through it alone. Neither of us could afford to go to Korea to see her. We prayed and wished her good life from here. But mostly, we thought that was the end of it. 

A couple years later, her cancer came back and has metastasized into her lungs. So she had another surgery, and managed with cancer drugs for a while. But deciding that the drugs weren't really working for her, she decided to try alternative, holistic medicine. It seemed to do really amazing things for her, her complexion became rosy, she became more energetic, she was more optimistic and happy.

We went to see her just 10 weeks ago, when I was 21~22 weeks pregnant. If I were someone else, a stranger, and met her for the first time, I wouldn't have known that she had any kind of illness.

Then about a month ago, she started feeling pain in her back.. She got prescription painkillers and without it it became hard to move for her. She decided to go try another hospital for scans. And finally, the new scan showed that her cancer was now in her liver and bones. Over last weekend, I got a text from my sister who now lives with her, telling me that mom has been admitted to the hospital and is in a lot of pain, painkillers aren't working for her, and doctors are telling my sister that she only has few months left in her. And my sister is now taking care of the paperwork for hospice care my mom picked out few months ago.

All of this is really hard to believe. I just saw her 10 weeks ago. She was supposed to come see us in a month for Logan's birth.. I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or if I'm just still in a shock, I find myself feeling okay and still very optimistic most of the time. There are moments when I feel suddenly overwhelmed by sadness.. Then I feel the baby move slowly inside me, from side to side, as if he is telling me that everything is going to be okay. 

It's easy to forget just how mortal we are. Mom's illness did have an effect on my decision to have a baby, because of the realization that one day, I might not be here or my husband might not be here, and I liked the idea of leaving a piece of us somewhere in the world when we leave our physical bodies. Her illness also had an impact on other life decisions -- like work; doing things I love NOW rather than saving it for later; cutting out and not wasting one minute of my life with toxic relationships.

We sometimes complain about family drama and the madness of family obligations, but I just want to say, it's sometimes a blessing to be able to complain about having that kind of burden. Since I left home for college when I was 17, I never really lived with my parents after that. I was often by myself for the holidays, and with my husband's family also living in a different country with different culture, our holidays and birthdays are very quiet. We joke that we're lucky, because we get to sleep in and lounge around the house eating crappy junk food all day instead of entertaining other relatives, but at times like this, I wish I wasn't so far away from my parents. 

All I can do now is keep praying for peace and a miracle. And not losing hope.