(Not that one!)
Any time I hear that C word I get scared. It feels like a death sentence. I'm also so afraid of death. I've never really known how to talk about it or what to actually say to someone going through it. Honestly, I just get so damn uncomfortable that I don't want to bring it up to anyone when I know they've lost someone, especially recently. Someone we know lost their Dad tragically almost a year ago. I was unable to write a message in the card. I'll just have my husband write something to his friend and his mother who just lost their father/husband. I'm just plain ol' bashful. I am so awkward about it.
The first time my mom had it, it was caught in stage 1. I had googled it and felt very optimistic! Radiation and a few pills was all she needed. She was in the clear for a long time.
and Here I am almost 10 years later...now facing a Stage 4 CANCER diagnosis for my Mom. It feels hopeless. It feels WAYYY scarier than the first time. It originated in the breast and spread to the bones of her femur, lung and brain.
The cancer has eaten a good amount of her femur. She was at the point of a possible break--without even knowing it. The unexplained pain in her leg that she had for many months finally had a cause which led us to this diagnosis. My dad said it was unbelieveable to see the image--how much was missing. How scary it was to see what was happening inside.
Bursting into tears over having to give up the dream of spending so many years together is how my initial response was. My words, "It wasn't supposed to be like this...." kept playing in my head. Anger! Letting go of the vision I had of myself as a 50-60 something year old woman with a grown child taking care of my mother as she nears her end. Letting go of all the memories my son would create with her. Her influence. The wisdom she would be able to give me as I age. When telling people the news on the phone, they would respond with something like, "Oh Diana, I'm so sorry...There have been such advances in medicine...." and wait for a response..but I didn't have one. "Hello?" They would say. I was HOLDING IN my tears and then burst onto them which was incredibly awkward. I did that with 3 or 4 people. Luckily, my tears aren't as extreme as they were a few weeks ago. I was really starting to worry about myself.
It's okay to cry. It's ok to process the news as you wish. I suggest being open with people about it so when they go through something, they realize how much better it feels to let it out..
Now I must FACE and be a witness to this beast. There is NO running from it. I am going to be there for HER (and my Dad) with no questions asked. I am starting to get increasingly uncomfortable in this new role. Bursting into tears. Losing sleep. Gasping for breath. YUP. That's what I felt at times upon first hearing the Metastatic Cancer diagnosis. It is SO important to find your way back to the present moment when your mind drifts so far ahead in time.
The truth is..We don't know how strong we are until we need to show up and be it. I KNOW in time, it won't feel so raw. I'll be able to talk about it easier. I have already stepped up to the plate by visiting her in the hospital a few times during her 8 day stay after getting a rod put into her femur. I have gone to her house to clean it each week. I have had my Dad over so he didn't feel so alone without his partner of 40 years. I made him a few meals. I have started doing the things I normally wouldn't do for my mom like paint my toenails with her because it would make her day. I also made her chocolate cupcakes from scratch as a way to bring her back to her childhood with her mom eating chocolate cake often. At this point...I believe if a person has a diagnosis like this, EAT THE CAKE....I am USUALLY ALL about moderation and wouldn't normally suggest that we go on eating sweets so much...I must make that clear. I also gave her a 40th wedding anniversary gift early..Rose Gold Wine glasses. In the Spring, she had mentioned wanting some new ones. I figured she may want to enjoy them before she goes on treatment with wine...and eventually she can still enjoy them but maybe with another beverage that serves her better.
After writing out the word and speaking it to those who know what's going on, the more ready I am to take on this. Watching someone who knows what lies ahead and is so brave. Being a part of those LITTLE moments that mean so much. This is A NEW experience...
I am not living in a sad movie..Those hospital scenes ALWAYS got me...This is Real. This is real life. This is happening. I am not even crying (right now). I am here to help. I AM LIVING IN THE PRESENT!!!