Story: One Day at a Time…

by Cat on August 16, 2010

This is such a touching and courageous post by Designing Mom Guissell of her mom.  What a battle it has been and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her and her family to hear of the exciting news!   And if I can just add…Guissell, this is your mom at 53?!  A beautiful mom like you!    

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Designing Mom Guissell (of Earthy Beginnings): 

This post has been in the making for a couple of months now, mainly because it’s painfully personal.  About a year ago our lives turned upside down when my mother was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer, after a visit to the ER for abdominal pain.  The long week wait for results to come back was excruciating to say the least and just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, the doctors informed us that her cancer had already metastasized to her liver and both lungs putting her in stage 4 of the cancer.  Words can’t explain all the emotions that we were all experiencing, life literally stopped for me.  I’m the oldest of three but my age gap with my siblings is so big I’ve always had the position of being mom’s assistant rather than just another child.  My mom and I are best friends, yes she’s my mother but she’s truly my confidant. 


To say that the health insurance process was difficult is a complete understatement. After months of battling, I was able to start my mom in her treatment (almost 3 moths after she was diagnosed). The first month of treatment was bad but not as bad as we all thought it would be. The second cycle however was really tough.  By the end of the third cycle I found myself at the ER with doctors telling me my mother’s liver was failing. Her oncologist had explained that this treatment would be really aggressive and to expect things like this to take place.  Once her body stabilized scans were done to check on her progress.  What we realized was that the medication was making her really ill during the last two weeks of the 28-day cycle treatment.  Once she came off the medication she was back to 100% in two weeks, crazy I know.

I will never forget the night her oncologist called me with the test results, it had been now about a month since the scans, something that felt more like a year. He started to explain each result one by one while I prepared my heart to hear the worse.  The mass around her liver he explained was completely gone.  The numerous nodules in her left lung were also all gone!  In her right lung there is only now 5 tiny nodules all under 1cm in diameter left.  He explained the treatment had done far more than what he had expected it to do, far more than what we all expected it to do that’s for sure!  Hearing this and being able to give that news to my family was beyond all happiness I have ever experienced really.  Needless to say we remain hopeful, my mother since has finished her fourth cycle and is on her fifth cycle now.  She has managed to figure a way to do her treatment so that she doesn’t get too sick that requires bed rest (we haven’t been back to the ER since early this year whoo hoo!).  Once she finishes this cycle she will have scans again to check on her progress.  We’re all praying for the best of course!

My mother’s strength is truly one to be admired.  Her life story alone would fill up a book!  I am grateful to have her as an example, as a friend, as my mother.  Every day I give thanks for being able to hold her hand, see her smile, and for continuing to form memories.  Although it is uncertain what tomorrow will hold, for now we’re simply taking it one day at a time!


above: Mom at 16: One of my favorites because it really defines my mother’s spirit to date, always very live and looking to have a good time.



above: Mom at 53.  I took this picture a couple of weeks ago after a day out with the family, her spirit a bit worn but still wanting to take in the setting sun.

Mom I know you’re reading this, I love you!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

G. August 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

This was hard to write and now hard to read. Thanks Cat for letting us share this… Hope is this raises awareness and gives hopes to some. Remember to live each day to the fullest because tomorrow is truly not promised to us!

Mom is going to love your comment. She believes the key to anti-aging is maintaining the youthful spirit!

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Eva August 17, 2010 at 1:09 am

thank you for sharing this G. I am happy that things are working so well with the therapy and the results are so good for your mom. I think you are totally brave for going through all this and being able to share it with us. It is definitely inspiring and will help bring in some awareness to all of us.
keep on the good work!

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Meaghan August 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm

What a great story! I am so glad that your mom is doing well, she is a beautiful woman and is lucky to have such a loving daughter!

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jackie kersh August 21, 2010 at 4:58 am

Thank you for sharing this G. Your words and photos are touching. Your strength and grace through it all really shines through. Keep it up!

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G. August 28, 2010 at 5:38 am

Thank you ladies! Really appreciate your words and support!! xoxo from NY

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