I knew when she called something was wrong. I could tell in her tone that the news wasn't going to be good. She requested a conference call my brothers, me, and her. She wanted to let us know what happened at the oncologist's office.
My Mother has stage 4 throat cancer. Surgery is out of the question. Aggressive chemotherapy and radiation are on the menu. There'll be a couple ports, losing of hair, a feeding tube, and then what she will face after surviving the treatment, the loss of the ability to make saliva and experience taste.
I'm listening just listening. Then I ask my questions. I don't break down. There's talk of an advance directive. She laughs & tries to make jokes while explaining this to us until she reaches the subject of her mom's offer to help. Her Mom, my Grandma, just got diagnosed with cancer of her own. It's in the blood. Multiple myeloma.
There is a moment when I crack a little. Reminding her to focus on the positive, give herself the best fighting chance, she won't be alone through this. After the call the tears come. Putting myself in her shoes, imaging how one could handle this news. I feel sad. I feel scared.
My Mom and I never had a relationship. There were glimpses when I was a little girl but after 9 and my parents divorce everything changed. So many crazy things happened, I've long considered writing a book about it. My grandmother on the other hand was the only female in my life. The constant. My teacher and advisor. Now they both have cancer and soon will be fighting for their lives while the "medicine" alone puts them on the brink of death.
There is nothing Tee-riffic about this. She won't be able to make saliva. Or taste. Fuck. I never even consider that being a possiblity. I am so grateful for my health right now but why does that gratitude seem so inappropriate?
I'd like to say my superwoman attitude kicked in and I dove right in offering to help as caregiver. I didn't. I need time, prayer, and the chance to do what I know I can for her right now. I'll be there, I'm just not sure how close I can get to all this. All I know is that life is precious, true love is forever, health is a gift, and everything can change in an instant.
If I could be so bold as to lean on you right now, I ask for prayers in their honor. To those who have done it, thank you so much.
Blessings and the greatest health to all of you. Always.