May 26, 2015
'We had life and it was beautiful'
BY Joaquin Altenberg
Whenever I think about my amazingly brave, strong mother, I can't help but thank MD Anderson for the moments they gave us.
My mother was 24 when she was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer. Doctors in our city gave her less than 60 days to live. Luckily, she was in the medical profession and had heard of the work being done at MD Anderson.
Enjoying more time together
I was 6 years old then. I remember she went through a challenging experimental surgery, chemotherapy and numerous other treatments.
There were many days we lay together, not knowing if it was the last moment we would be together.
My mother was the only parent my sister and I had, so we were very scared for our future if she passed away.
Those risky procedures gave us five more years together. After the procedure, we traveled to far off places together, lived abroad for two years and experienced a fantastic life together.
Those extra years prepared me for what did eventually come, and despite the agony of it, we made it through.
Finding beauty in moments of pain
I want to share with the wonderful staff of MD Anderson that in those moments of pain and despair that you so graciously witness day in and day out, there was life, and it was cherished. Even 30 years later, there are some days I would rather be lying next to my mother in that hospital room than living without her. To be able to smell her breath, to be able to breathe in the side of her neck, nuzzling with her for one more moment. I would take the sorrow again because in each fleeting moment, we had life, and it was beautiful.
Despite how sad this may sound, I am grateful for every waking moment we had together -- even the hard ones -- because we got to share life, and in those moments life stood still.
My message to MD Anderson's doctors and staff
To the MD Anderson doctors and staff, to everyone taking on these difficult assignments, I want you to know I thank you. From the bottom of my heart, and for those of us that can't say it in the moment, THANK YOU.
What you witness is not easy, but the life you give is precious. I am so grateful for every moment you allowed my family and me to spend with my mother.
TopicsSupport Psychosocial Grief Treatment
I am grateful for every waking moment we had together -- even the hard ones.