I have an amazing mom. Over the years, she’s been my biggest champion, my rock, and as I grew older, she’s become one of my closest friends. She has a huge heart, and if anyone is in need, she’s first to step up and help. My mother is an example of a selflessness. She’s a true giver, and she does it for pure joy.
In 2016, she turned 80. She loves to tell people she 80, because everyone says she doesn’t look 80, nor does she act 80. She eats that up. But it’s true. She’s a progressive thinker and open minded. It took me a while to get brave enough, but now I send her my books to read before I email them to my publisher. I value her opinion, and let me tell you, she doesn’t hesitate to give it.
She’s gone through a lot of tough times in her life and weathered those storms with grace and dignity. But a few weeks ago, she was dealt with probably one of the greater challenges she’s yet to face, only this time it was different. This strong, fiercely independent woman had to accept she was the one needing care.
At first, she went into a bit of denial. She did, but I didn’t.
I suspected the news wouldn’t be positive when she revealed to me that her recent mammogram showed a mass, and her doctor wanted to do a biopsy. She preferred to keep it quiet, and I agreed. No use worrying until we had something to worry about.
I insisted on taking off work and going with her, although she was adamant that she could drive herself. According to her, this was no big deal.
Except it was. The results showed a malignancy.
Again, she didn’t want anyone to know. I get it, and so do family and friends. One of her biggest complaints is about “old” people whining about their ailments, and she didn’t want to be classified in that category. Except this wasn’t whining. She had cancer.
At this point, we semi-reversed roles, and she didn’t relinquish hers easily.
Thankfully, the growth was caught in the beginning stages. Her physician explained the risks were minimal, and she’d be just fine. She was given several choices: Chemotherapy, remove the breast, or they could take out the mass and later she’d have radiation treatments.
She chose the latter, saying Chemo was poison, and she didn’t want toxins in her body. She didn’t want to have the breast removed, because that required an overnight stay in the hospital, and only sick people spent the night in hospitals—her words, folks. She elected to get rid of the mass and do radiation.
The surgery was scheduled on Monday, March 13. They’d operate in the morning, and she could home in the afternoon. She announced she intended to go to quilting on the following Tuesday, and she had a meeting on Saturday she had to attend. While I know better than to say, you’re not going anywhere, Mom, I suggested she see how she felt before she made any definite plans. (She didn’t go to either.)
Once more, I had to wrangle my way into driving her to pre-register into the hospital. We both got a good chuckle when the attendants inquired about her medications, and she produced her only prescriptions, which are vitamin D and calcium. The look on their faces was priceless. One even commented, “You’re 80 and that’s all the meds you take?” True story.
We stopped for one at the end of that day
Then she told me I didn’t need to take off work, she could drive herself to the hospital for the surgery. Umm…no…I took off work.
The surgery went smooth. They also removed a lymph node to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread. First words out of the doctor’s mouth after the procedure, was my mom was a tough old bird, and she was going to be around for a long time. I knew that, but it was nice to have a professional opinion.
I drove her home, then ran to the grocery store, picked up her prescriptions, and dinner. To this day, she’s only taken one pain pill, although recently she admitted that the incision did bother her, and ibuprofen had become her friend. She also expressed that the entire episode kicked her butt. She didn’t bounce back like she thought she would. Really?
She went for a checkup this past Thursday. Results came back clear. Yesterday, she wanted me to take her shopping. Of course, I did. We had a great time. She was feeling much better, and there was an added spring in her step that I hadn’t seen in a while. All a relief.
We’re not finished, yet. She still must see an oncologist, hear their suggestions, and decide what the next move should be, but she’s ready.
And she asked me if I would take off work and drive her.
I want to thank our family and friends who’ve been great support and cheering for her on. I also want to express my gratitude to those who’ve been there for me, too. There were times I felt very alone and scared. Your encouragement and kind words helped me battle those fears and put on a brave face.
I want to give special, special thanks to my cousins, Mac, and Kathy for remaining by my side. The phone calls, texts, the wine, and hanging out at the hospital were just what needed. You rock! I love you to the moon and back!