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Davich: Cancer fight trains mother’s focus

Join ‘Team Tara’

What: Kicking Cancer 5K and Kids Fun Run (400 yards)

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 17

Where: Three Rivers County Park, 2800 Colorado St., Lake Station

Cost: $20 by May 15; $25 on race day

Register: www.tristateracer.com
/RaceDirector/race.php?RaceID
=1835

gift-giving

Americans will shell out an average of $163 on mothers today, with spending expected to reach $19.9 billion, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

Also, 81 percent of consumers will show their appreciation with a greeting card, 66 percent will give mom her favorite flowers, and 33 percent will buy her clothing.

The survey shows that 63 percent of consumers will shop for their mother or stepmother, while 22 percent will shop for their wife, 9 percent will shop for their daughter and 6 percent will shop for their grandmother.

by the numbers

4.1 million

American women between the ages of 15 and 50 who gave birth in the past 12 months

20 percent

Women ages 15 to 44 who have had two children; 47 percent had no children, 17 percent had one, 10 percent had three and about 5 percent had four or more

25.8

Average age of women in 2012 when they gave birth for the first time

Jacob and Sophia

Most popular baby names for boys and girls in 2012

10 million

Single mothers living with children younger than 18 in 2013, up from 3.4 million in 1970

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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Updated: June 12, 2014 6:11AM



Tara Kingston choked up only once while recapping the past few months of her life.

Not because of the bile duct cancer lurking in her liver, which she spoke about matter-of-factly, like a doctor to a colleague. Not about being away from her beloved high school students while on leave for obvious health reasons. And not about her latest bout with chemotherapy, which drained Kingston of everything but her megawatt smile.

It was only when she recalled breaking the news about the cancer to her 7-year-old son, Evan.

“That was the hardest part of all this,” said Kingston, 43, who sported a bright green shirt stating, “Fighting cancer and still fabulous!”

“I was honest with Evan from the beginning, telling him it was something bad growing inside me,” she recalled.

At first, his young mind connected the death of their dog, which died from cancer, to his mother’s cancer.

“Will you die, too?” he asked her.

I can’t think of a more heartbreaking question from a young child to a mother.

Kingston was diagnosed Dec. 6 after months of chronic fatigue, nausea and overall discomfort. Until then, fear continued to whisper into her ear — “colon cancer,” knowing that her family has a history of that type of cancer.

“You have that gray look like your father did before he was diagnosed with cancer,” her mother told her on Thanksgiving.

After endless tests and a few misdiagnoses, Kingston was surprised but not shocked by the news from her doctor.

“I was ready for colon cancer,” she said. “Not this cancer, cholangiocarcinoma.”

The relatively rare cancer, affecting about 2,500 Americans a year (mostly older people), has several forms, each named for the location affected.

As the cancer grows, it restricts the flow of bile, which the body needs to digest fats. Her cancer had been growing for years before being detected, slowly and methodically spreading inside the bile ducts.

Before her diagnosis, her skin literally oozed bile that couldn’t pass through the ducts, causing uncontrollable itchiness.

“I almost scratched my skin off,” Kingston said. “It was insane.”

She underwent surgery Jan. 8 to explore the cancerous site, and another surgery to remove the tumors is scheduled May 19, two days after a “Kicking Cancer 5K” fundraiser on her behalf.

“What stands out most for me is the generosity of people in my life,” said Kingston, whose friends, family and students are hosting the event.

Her husband, Sean, her parents and her church, South Haven Christian, also have been there since day one of her battle. It’s all the other people, including strangers, who have blissfully blindsided Kingston.

“Many who I don’t even know,” she said. “I can’t express enough how much I appreciate everyone who is rallying on my behalf. I’m a fighter; I won’t back down.”

Since being diagnosed, Kingston is a lot more patient as a mother.

“I’m a planner, an organizer and someone who liked to be in control, but this has taught me that nothing is really under my control anymore,” she said, slowly sipping her coffee. “It’s so much easier to laugh at things instead of getting upset or caught up in all those dramas around us.”

“You have to keep a sense of humor or things can get ugly,” said Kingston, who needs that humor as a teacher at River Forest High School.

And how is Evan handling the situation these days?

“He’s taking it as well as he should,” she said. “He’s still very clingy, always wanting to be near me, telling me he loves me. What mother doesn’t want to hear that, though?”

Her advice to other moms on this Mother’s Day?

“Don’t think you have to do things alone, like too many mothers believe,” Kingston said after much thought. “Having cancer has taught me that I don’t have much control, and I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

“What I can control is what every mother can control — what kind of mother I want to be and need to be,” she added.

If anything, Mother’s Day is the perfect day to relearn this timeless lesson.

Connect with Jerry via email at jdavich@post-trib.com, voice mail at 713-7237 or Facebook, Twitter and his blog at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.



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