You know how life seems to pile up and pile up and just when you think you can’t handle any more that’s when the heaviest load seems to be added on. Well, this is something I’ve experienced often. My senior year of undergrad as the semester was working its way to ending and the organic chemistry tests were becoming increasingly more difficult to pass, my mother was diagnosed with Sarcoma. Sarcoma is a kind of cancer; it’s basically tumors that grow on muscle tissue. Mom had an 8 pound tumor on her kidney.
She had the tumor removed along with her kidney; the surgery went well. She felt great afterwards. Awesome. We now call her Frankenmommy.
Then this summer another growth popped up on her shoulder muscle. Again, she had surgery, it went well. She felt great.
Well two weeks ago on a Saturday morning, Mom called me.
MOM: I have to tell you something.
MOM: I have two growths behind my stomach and there are spots on my lungs. The doctor is not sure if the spots on the lungs are cancer, but he doesn’t like the look of it.
ME: Are you going to have to have surgery?
MOM: No, they don’t think cutting them out is working. They didn’t think the growths were connected, but now they think they are. (A long pause) I’m going to have to start chemo.
I didn’t say anything for a while. Didn’t really know what to say. How do you respond to that? How do you stay strong for your Momma? How do you push the lump that is about to explode out of your throat down? You can’t swallow the lump. I took a deep breath, a big deep breath. I could hear Mom breathing. She was getting emotional.
ME: When do you start?
MOM: Probably in about two weeks.
ME: Well, I’m sure you’re going to be fine.
She didn’t sound confident. She was in shock. Again, it was really quiet. We were both about to cry and cry and cry, not in the good way that we have when we’re watching Step Mom together and we’re crying because it’s such a beautiful story and we love each other. We were about to cry some seriously sad tears.
MOM: So are you going to come up this weekend?
ME: I can’t I have a lot of work to do. I’ll try to come up soon, hopefully before Thanksgiving.
MOM: I love you.
ME: I love you too.
I hung up, gently put my phone down and cried for about 2 hours. I cried a lot that weekend. I’m about to crying right now as I write this.
I drove home that weekend because I wanted to hug my mom. I did. I held her really tightly. F%@? the school work.
A few days later when I was speaking to my mom, she sounded normal.
I was venting about some of my stress and she said she was sorry about getting sick and that she felt bad that she was adding to my stress. Of course I told her it wasn’t her fault and she’d fight through it and everything would be okay. I believe this to be true.
Mom started chemo yesterday. Her spirits were up. I spoke to her before and after and she sounded good.
My family, both immediate and extended, have rallied around to support my mom. My aunt, who lives about five minutes from my parents has been going with her to all her doctor’s appointments. She is not my mom’s sister, she is mom’s sister-law. I’m telling you, we are tight family. There is non of that bullshit that goes on between in-laws. We all love each other blood related or not. We gather together and don’t let each other fall. My other aunt, my mom’s other sister in-law is flying in tomorrow and staying until Wednesday to get my mom through the first week. About ten-eleven years ago she went through chemo and has explained how the first week is one of the toughest. She’s coming in to get Mom through it.
I love my family even though they are crazy, and sometimes I’m embarrassed by how freakin’ loud they are. I see how much I have a little bit of all of them in me. I’m loud and crazy and if anyone of them needed me I’d quit my damn job if I had to help them.
Yesterday or the day before, I can’t remember. I was talking to my mom on the phone and she said something about how she felt bad that my aunt was spending her time in a depressing hospital. She said she felt like a burden.
That’s when I reminded her.
ME: Isn’t that what family is for? Aren’t we supposed to reach out and help each other? You’d do the same thing for her, and if, when I have a sister-in-law who gets sick and needs me I’ll stick with her too. That’s what we do. We help each other. You’re going into battle, we’re your army. We’re here to help you fight.
I could hear her nodding her head.
Chemo, cancer, all of it sucks but I know Mom will get through it because she has us fighting for her when she can’t. We’re going to pick her up when falls, hold her up if we have to as she fights face to face with that son of bitch Sarcoma.