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fuck cancer

fuck cancer published on

mom and i have a… complicated relationship. some of you dear readers know more about it. i don’t really want to get into here and now, because it really has no bearing on the situation at hand.

and the situation at hand is this: mom has cancer. again. the first time it struck her, she got “lucky.” i put the quotation marks because its seems weird and stupid to use the word “lucky” in conjunction with cancer. but as cancers go, the first cancer was caught very early, and it was very common, and its average recovery rate was very high. in light of this, with her first cancer, her treatment process was pretty simple and (relatively speaking) easy to deal with: the cancer was surgically removed, there was no need for radiation, no need for chemotherapy, no real need for drugs of any kind.

last time.

this time, however, it wasn’t caught as early, it was extremely aggressive, and before surgery could even be considered, the oncologist decided she needed chemo. the only silver lining to this cloud being that since it hadn’t spread to any other organs or tissues, the chemo would be relatively short (only six months) and then they’ll surgically remove whatever is left. mom tried to put on a brave face, but honestly, we all knew she was petrified, most especially about how the chemo would cause her hair to fall out. in fact, she obsessed so much about the hair loss, that she didn’t do a whole lot of researching or even planning for all the other side effects of chemotherapy. most notably that it would effect her stomach, her appetite, how foods taste, and what foods would be better for her health-wise.

this was the major concern for me and my family, because mom was already a highly picky eater, who eats very little anyway, and what she does eat doesn’t have a whole lot of nutritional value, most of the time. she’s also always been terrible about keeping properly hydrated. plus, she’s tiny. she’s about two inches taller than me, but even before she started chemo, weighed about 120. bag ‘o bones she is.

complicating matters even further is that she and the rest of my family live in the asshole of the country; in a rural area about 50 miles from any city of real size. there is one store in their tiny town, and it’s the world’s worst walmart. it’s not even like a super walmart that most of them are these days. it’s small, has a very limited grocery section (despite the grocery section being half the damn store) and a horribly small produce department. what’s worse is that the produce department almost never stocks any u.s. grown produce, much less locally grown. so since it’s almost all imported, it’s usually under-ripe or old already when it gets there, and even if they do get in something good, they stock so little of it that should she decide she likes something, it’s rarely if ever still in stock by the next time she goes shopping – whether it’s a week later or even a few days.

here’s an example of the problem: on one trip to walmart, she bought a bag of potatoes (because they don’t sell them individually) and, because berries were in season, she “splurged” and bought a half pint of blackberries for some asinine price like $4.99. once she got home (20 miles away from walmart) she rinsed off the blackberries (from mexico, even though it was “berry season” and they could have seemingly easier and more cheaply come from texas or oregon where they are prolific) popped one in her mouth and it was so bitter she had to spit it out. she tried one or two more, then gave up. next she moved on to the potatoes (chilean for fuckssake) and upon opening the bag and reaching in, grabbed one from the center of the bag that was mushy and squished in her hand. it was also wet, apparently from a second rotten potato also in the middle of the bag. she sent me this:
fresh potatoes from walmart

now you probably are asking, why not just return that nastiness and get her money back, or some new ones? well, because as i said, she lives 20 miles from walmart, so it’s a 40 mile round trip, which is a almost two gallons of gas, so she only makes the trip to town about once a week. still, it’s not that far, right? well, yes. except that on her limited, and fixed, income, she can’t afford to just fill up her tank whenever. just like she can’t afford to waste her money on rotten produce.

circling back to present day, and mom’s started chemo. within 48 hours, everything went to shit. literally. her stomach is tore up, so she’s losing sleep. absolutely nothing tastes good. even her favorite treats like candy bars or ice cream taste terrible to her, nauseating her when she tries to choke them down. what little she did enjoy drinking – coffee and sweet tea – are intolerable to her, so she’s barely drinking anything, either. she’s ended up back in the hospital requiring i.v.s four times now and we’re only on her second of (hopefully still only) six chemo treatments.

i knew this was coming, and i wanted her to be here, where not only are there grocery stores galore within minutes of our house, but we’ve got goddamned m.d. fucking anderson cancer centers here! but even if she hadn’t fought me on it with excuses (“i just want to be at home,” “i’ll miss my grandbabies,” “i’ll be a burden,”) it just wasn’t possible logistically or financially. she’s on medicare and also her state’s medicade; due to her tiny little income, the state university hospital was willing to offer some pretty terrific financial aid, so… *sigh*

so in the weeks between initial diagnosis and now, i’ve been trying to come up with a way to get her fresh, local, tasty produce.

  • i searched out all the grocery delivery services in the next big town – mom lived too far away.
  • i searched out all the farmer’s markets in the area (there’s farms everywhere up there) – no good. there’s only one in town, it’s mostly meat, dairy, and crafts.
  • i researched all the grocery chains that do business nearby, hoping there would be one here that could partner up with one there and then i could pay them to ship it to her – no such luck. not a single chain within 200 miles has stores in texas.
  • i went to my regular h.e.b. and asked if there was anything they could do – they ran it up the chain and three weeks later concluded they couldn’t.
  • i tried to find the cheapest way possible to ship her food – impossible. $10 worth of food would run me, on average, $45 – $100 to get it there in two days.
  • i contacted the local csa to ask if they knew of any farmer’s markets in the area that maybe i just wasn’t finding because they don’t all have websites – and they didn’t.

but then something happened. the woman that got back to me gave me a link to a company she knows a lot of her members subscribe to, because they ship local, organic produce for a reasonable price! so i reached out to them – but they didn’t ship to mom’s zip code.

but then something *amazing* happened – they held a board meeting and decided to add mom’s zip code to their service area.

finally, a workable solution. i can pick & choose what to buy her, they deliver it to her door. what’s more – they’re more than just fruits & vegetables. i can get her meats and cheeses and beverages and pantry staples and snacks and so much more!

so now we come to the rub of the matter. which is that even though they’re reasonable, it’s basically gonna double my own grocery budget. and between mom’s first cancer and now this one, there’s not much left over in the budget to do that. and i can’t ask my family because all of their spare income is going towards their own expenditures to do whatever they can to help her through this. so i’m swallowing my pride, laying it all out there, and asking for your help. see that “donate now” button under the request you do me a solid up there? well… can you do me a solid? if i reach my initial goal of $500, i’ll be able to afford to do this for about four months. anything beyond that will continue to go toward getting her good foods, especially since four months from now will still be dead of winter up there, and she’ll need help more than ever transitioning from chemo to recovering from surgery. but for now, i’m keeping my ask low – i don’t want anyone to feel like if they can only give five bucks that it’s not going to help. it really, really is. isn’t as well-known perhaps as gofundme; but they also don’t charge a fee to you or me to collect the funds; only the same percentage the other guys do to cover credit card costs, which they deduct from what you give before they send it to me. if you want to help support them while they do what they do to support others, you can donate to them at the same time. it’s nice to see that not every business is out there to make gross profits, just profits. and even if you can’t (or, simply don’t want to) help financially, please be a dear and tweet the link to either my blog or the fundraiser. that’s free! and it’ll help me spread the word!

and thank you for this. from the bottom of my butt (which is literally bigger than my heart) but also from the bottom of my heart (figuratively). i hate needing help – i always want to be the one helping those in need. but thank you. you don’t know what this means to me – to my family. thank you.