My mom was supermom and superwoman. She was that person that everyone constantly wanted to be around. She was my family’s rock. Full of life, she was the most unexpected, as were my family and I, to hear the word that changes everything: cancer. A word that breaks your heart into a million pieces.
For years, my mom was convinced that her stomach issues were just dietary issues. She had all the warning signs but was simply unaware that these were signs of colon cancer. Doctors ignored the issues, too. They assumed it was nothing serious.
At only 50 years old and in great shape, my mom, Amy Pack, got the diagnosis. When the doctor found the tumor, my parents knew it was bad by the look on the doctor’s face. They knew a hard journey lay ahead. The doctor locally didn’t think the treatment was even worth it. My mom didn’t take no for an answer. She got a second opinion at Duke Hospital, where they agreed treatment was, in fact, very worth it. Duke prolonged her life. They weren’t going to give up on her.
Fast forward, and the doctor gave more bad news: stage 4. Hearing this news was almost as hard as hearing the initial diagnosis. Fast forward again, after many surgeries, chemo, radiation, and excruciating pain, we got the news that the cancer was terminal. Processing that your mother only has a short amount of time to live is something that no one should have to experience. The treatments could not rid her body of the rapidly spreading cancer, so my mom decided to enjoy the time she had left rather than participating in clinical trials.
She had the type of strength and positivity that left you wondering, “how”? I can picture the smile she would put on the nurse’s faces by simply being her. She would buy not only gifts for her nurses, but for their kids and families, too. In the midst of her extreme pain, she worried about everyone but herself. I specifically remember her telling me, “make sure your dad is eating.” Not once did she feel sorry for herself, when we all felt sorry for her. She kept on living and she kept on fighting. She kept on being that supermom that she always was. She made everyone feel so loved.
The Colon Cancer Coalition, specifically the Annual “Get Your Rear in Gear 5K” became a way to show how incredibly loved SHE was. Walk days were simply her favorite! I can still hear her telling me on her last walk day that it was one of her favorite days ever. She felt so loved. Walk days are an incredible way to show those fighting colon cancer that they are seen and heard all while raising awareness. My sisters and I nominated our mom for the Sue Falco Determination Award in March of 2019. She had no idea, and I will never forget the smile on her face when they called her name. She was the most deserving, and while she was incredibly humble, I know she felt so deserving.
My mom left her Earthly home and into her Heavenly home on August 25th, 2019. The single most hardest day of my life, but all of her pain was wiped away. While I can’t help but selfishly wish she were still here, I find so much peace in knowing that her fight with cancer is over.
If she were here, I think there are a few things she would want people to know. The most important thing she would say is to simply GET SCREENED. If you are experiencing any of the warning signs, don’t downplay them. If you are diagnosed, she would want to share all the tips she learned along the way. While I don’t know all of them, I do know she would say to be optimistic through the battle. Get a second opinion. Don’t lose faith. I truly believe all of these things helped prolong her time on Earth.
As hard as losing my mom has been and learning to navigate this life without her, I have been able to find incredible joy in being able to advocate for her. Honoring her is my absolute favorite thing. One of her worries was being forgotten – which would never happen, but spreading the word is just one of the many ways to remember her. The Colon Cancer Coalition has grown near and dear to my heart, and I have had an incredible opportunity to be a part of it this summer, as a Social Media and Marketing Intern. I know she is smiling down, knowing that while she can’t work to spread awareness, I can.
You can help honor her and all the lives lost to colon cancer, too. Do your part. Check your colon. Don’t wait.