I have a friend on face book who was talking about her “Starting Over” she had lost a limb due to illness. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with a co-worker, many many, many lifetimes ago.
This co-worker had throat cancer. She had her larynx removed along with some very painful muscles in her neck. I must have been all of maybe 20 something. I asked her what happened. I thought she was going to tell me that she had been in an accident, or something. But she told me of her cancer, I in all of my wisdom of years. Said “OH, I couldn’t ever do that. I think I would rather die than give up bits and pieces of me” She smiled like I had said something funny. She said “When I see my daughter, graduate, get married have kids of her own, I won’t have any regrets about giving up any part of me.” I smiled then.
Well that was then. The reality of my very really rudeness didn’t hit me until about 20 years later. On Halloween – scariest Halloween EVER!!! I had found a lump in the shower. OK, well I was picking up the soap and looked down… three isn’t a number I would actually expect when counting the girls! There it was, don’t know how I missed it, other than work, my son, my parents… yes I was shocked. So much so that I jumped out of the shower – never did find the soap. I did what any self-respecting daughter does, ASK MOM!! She wondered what was wrong because I don’t usually streak with the curtains open. Well not since I streaked in front of the minister – but that is another tale to be told at a later date. Mom, said yes it was a lump. I called right away to get an appointment with my family doctor. She of course sent me to have a mammogram same day, which kind of made me a lot more apprehensive . They didn’t even say anything else but that it was cancer I could see from the mammogram a huge octopus looking thing. That was a Friday, I had a biopsy done at the same time as the mammogram. I got the call at home. I had lost my job that Monday, so of course it set me up for the call. I cried, not sure if it was from fear or just mad. I was without a job so that meant no insurance.
I call it my holiday disease. I had the mammogram on Halloween. I had cancer surgery the day after Thanksgiving. I have a friend who’s birthday is November 4, the day I actually got the diagnosis. I started Chemo the week before Christmas. I had my last chemo on Valentines day, my last radiation on St. Patrick’s Day. I guess God does work in mysterious ways. I don’t think I could have continued to work with the treatments. So it was a good thing that I didn’t have to. Insurance was thru COBRA, thankfully. But it was expensive.
I wonder what ever happened to her, my co-worker. I hope she got to see all the things she wanted to. I hope she became the best Grandmother anybody could ask for. I just know she would be laughing at the things I had to give up. Body parts, tears more surgeries than I want to remember (I stopped counting at 13). Just a last note that when you are going for the mammogram, it is uncomfortable, it hurts a LITTLE. But don’t ever put it off.
An interesting story, I know I do run on a bit (A LOT!) but about a week after my first chemo my parents took me to see the new Harry Potter movie it was the one with the big snake. I remember thinking when Harry is poisoned, “I wonder if he felt as bad as I do” I was scratchy and when I put my hand to my head it came back full of hair. I went to see my friends David and Donna. He had shaved his head – kind of in sympathy. Donna had waist length hair so very pretty. I am glad she didn’t shave her head!! I went to the hair place. When I asked the lady to shave my head. She first flat refused. When I showed her the hair that was falling out she sat me down and shaved my head. I don’t know who was crying worse her or me! She didn’t charge me for the hair cut and we prayed together. That meant more to me than the free haircut!