I can still remember the night my mother told me she had breast cancer. It was my 21st birthday, my first legal drink with my parents, out to dinner. I ordered a Singapore Sling. I sat next to Seth, my parents across from us. We were in the pub/bar area of the restaurant and it was loud, but I heard her clearly. “It’s cancer”. It was the end of November, and she wanted to wait to have surgery after Christmas. We all went through the motions for the sake of Abby who was 2 1/2.
The morning of the surgery, my sister picked me up. It was still dark. We rode in silence to the hospital. On the highway there was the clearest shooting star I’d ever seen..It was bright and stayed in the sky for what seemed to be longer than other shooting stars I’d experienced. We both thought that was a ‘sign’ that things would be okay.
When we got to the hospital mom was getting prepped. We were in the pre-op area, she was gowned and in her bed with her IV. They were starting to give her something to help her relax. We sort of stood around, not sure what to say or where to look…I looked over at Ashley and she didn’t look very good. She looked at me, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she fell into my arms. Nurses rushed over and put her in a chair with her head between her knees. They said fainting is common under these circumstances.
I remember standing there, shifting my weight from one foot to another, looking down at my mother in bed, at my sister sitting in the chair trying to stay conscious, and my father who just looked scared. I remember wanting to say something funny, upbeat..I remember wanting to tell them that I was pregnant with a baby that we’d tried so hard to conceive, but there was never a good time to bring it up.
They took her away, and that was that. What’s strange is I can’t even remember now if we stayed and waited on site, or went home and waited for the call. I have no recollection of any of it. I can’t remember if the next time I saw her was in the hospital or at home. My memories of the next 9 months are very spotty. She had a double mastectomy with reconstruction, as well as chemo. She lost her hair. She tried to stay bright and sunny. I think she kept a lot from us, but one thing I was positive of.. I was growing a new life, while she was just trying to survive.
Over the next several years she continued to get checked out, and we really thought after 7 or so years she was out of the woods. Free and clear. Wrong. Even though she’d had both breasts and all the breast tissue completely removed, one sneaky cell had escaped and grew. Next step, radiation.
I’m sure many of you reading this have known someone who has suffered through cancer, possibly passed away as a result of it, so there is no reason to share every detail of the misery that this shit disease brings into someones life. I did think though, since she had drawn this short straw maybe this would be our families dose of it. I was dumb enough to believe that something, somewhere was possibly controlling the misery and would only dish it out in one-serving-per-family sized portions.
When Ash started having issues with her thyroid, cancer never crossed my mind. For one, I’d never heard of thyroid cancer, and for two, hadn’t my family just gone through this shit? Apparently Mother Nature doesn’t give a damn, and gave us another heaping helping. Ashley has just recently started to share her story on her page and her blog.
Because of my mother and my sister’s history, I am followed pretty closely. I feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop with every neck scan. I’ve had 2 breast biopsies, the most recent one removing a golf ball sized mass. (it was not cancer) I wish I had a crystal ball for my future..
Anyways. Cancer has not robbed me like it has some, but it has definitely held us at gun point a time or two. It’s taken away any sense of security in our health. It’s made us question every lump or ache. It’s made us feel like we are walking the plank blindfolded, not sure of the next step.
I guess I don’t really have a moral to this story. I think of Mary Tyler Mom‘s daughter Donna often. Daddy Doin’ Work just lost a good friend Wade. It seems it’s always here, always looming. I really don’t truly hate many things, but I HATE YOU cancer. I honestly, with my whole heart and soul hate you. I absolutely fucking despise you. So fuck you. FUCK. YOU. ….asshole.