Friday, March 6, 2009

Cancer-schmancer

Mom's surgery is on Monday.
This will be it. The end of the battle (hopefully).
The doctor will take away Oscar Ostomy (that's right, she named her Ostomy) and hook everything back up and once the muscles are working properly again, my mommy will be back to normal.
It's been a long year. Cancer... shit. I did not ever expect to have to deal with that. Other people got cancer, I knew that, but certainly not anyone in my family, especially my mom.
After the diagnosis, I didn't know what to do with myself... Mom is supposed to take care of ME, not the other way around.
Dad having a slight heart condition I could handle, that I was used to, that was under control. But Mom having cancer!? No way. Can't happen. Cancer is a dirty word. It's a being that comes in and destroys everything it touches and takes away the people it inhabits.
Little did I know...
We were lucky that it was caught relatively early.
We were lucky that Grandpa is a well respected doctor and has connections.
We were lucky that the chemo/radiation shrunk that tumour away to nothing.
We were lucky to have an amazing surgeon.
We were lucky to have tremendous support, from our family, from our town, from our church.
We were lucky.
Cancer isn't an all-devouring beast. It comes in many forms. For some people, cancer will take them away from their loved ones. But for others, there is hope. That is something I wish I knew at the beginning. There is hope.
And you know what? No matter what the outcome, cancer brings people together. Our family became closer than ever. People that Mom had grown apart from came out of the woodwork, bringing cards and flowers and meals and gifts, and most importantly, their presence, letting her know they cared.
As a family we cried, we laughed, we fought, we encouraged, we pitched in. Mom learned that it's okay to take a step back, to ask for help - things she would never do before. The middle sis and I became more present, in spite of not living at home, we made more of an effort to be there. For me, it taught me that if I can get through this crisis, I can get through most anything. The littlest sis, the only child living at home, grew up, a lot. She gracefully dealt with situations that I could have never dealt with at 16. She took care of the house, she accompanied on doctor's visits, she dealt with the outside world when Mom couldn't, she put her own needs aside and became a better person. Dad learned to leave work behind, that business could wait. Never, in my life growing up, had I seen Dad leave the store behind and trust others with his business. Dad also, I think, realized that life is short... not long after this ordeal, he decided to follow his dream of having his own forest and so bought the new property (his new love).
Yeah, cancer sucks ass, but I like to think that there is always a bright side to the crap that happens. Cancer may have ravaged Mom's body, but it also changed all of our lives in a positive way.

Here's the ladies of our family, only weeks before Mom was diagnosed, celebrating middle sis's birthday. From the left we have littlest sis, middle sis, Mom, and myself. If we only knew what was coming...


And here's my beautiful Mom this past Christmas. Here she has gone through a month straight of chemo and radiation, a surgery to remove the affected part of the bowel and insert an ostemy, and she was currently in the middle of 4 months of chemo (1 week a month). Just look at her! She looks incredible! She amazes me with how strong she is.

And so, on Monday, she goes in for more surgery. Minor surgery, just to hook everything back up.
It's minor, I tell myself, it's a happy surgery to fix everything back up. After this, it will be over. Right?
But I still get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it. Not as big as the one I got before her first surgery... but it's still there.
Maybe it's because I don't deal with hospitals well. The waiting while she's being operated on, how sterile everything is, how scary the patients look, Mom... hooked up to tubes and monitors. I'm not looking forward to going through that again. I feel like I already know my way around that hospital way too well. I'm not a person who deal with medical things well... or bodily fluids for that matter. Heck, I shy away from dealing with emotions. That feeling in the bottom of my stomach and the back of my throat is there the entire time I am, and it stays even when I go home at night. I use humour to get through it. I'm the one in the hospital room cracking jokes and goofing off. Voted most likely to get kicked out of the hospital room and be scowled at by nurses.
But, we'll get through it. And you know what, Mom's going to be fine. They'll continue to check on Mom for the next few years to make sure the cancer doesn't come back, but she responded so well to the treatment this time that I am not terribly concerned about that. Mom's a tough cookie. And no matter what, thanks to this fight with cancer, I have hope. You never know what life's going to throw at you, but even with the bad, you can find good.

9 comments:

Kern said...

Right on, and let that be a testament to the strength of positivity. One disaster has created so many positive ripples, may it linger. Great post, keep us updated on how she is doing!! You'll all be in my thoughts!

Shannon Patterson said...

I'm so glad your mom is doing so well. Looking at the first photo I'm so struck by the resemblance between your mom and Melanie's Mom. I keep forgetting you're related.

I can totally tell how proud you are of your mom and how much you love your family in this post. I'll be thinking of you and your fam.

Meri said...

You have a great perspective on what's happened and I think that's awesome(and I think your mom is pretty amazing too). Hope all goes well with your mom's surgery.

Marie said...

So good to hear your mom is doing better and I'm so sorry that she has to go through this. Cancer is absolutely horrid and evil. You have such a great perspective on this and I admire you for that. Keeping a positive attitude is so important.

I hope she gets 110% healthy again and beats the crap out of cancer!

Classy in Philadelphia said...

Great that your Mom is doing better!

Cancer is such a dirty word, but I love your positive outlook on the entire situation. When my aunt had cancer, it really did bring our family together. Sad that it takes a crisis to do that, but at least it happened.

Hope everything continues to go well!

Erin said...

Cancer sucks, but it's a battle that can be fought. My dad has been fighting for more than 8 years. Some days/weeks/months are really awful...sometimes things are great. You just have to keep living your lives.

Hope everything goes well for your mom.

ria said...

your mom looks like a strong lady. i'm so glad they caught it relatively early. thinking about you and your family today.

EP said...

Your mom is so strong. Cancer is a tough thing, and it's amazing that she named it. (I love that!) And you're strong, too, for standing next to her.

Y'all will be in my prayers.

whattakes said...

I am glad they found it early!

My aunt just found out she has cancer so we are all dealing with that, and it bringing us all closer as a family too.

Also, I'm a small town girl living in Toronto too. But not for long, moving back home.