Cancer: Getting Used To The Heaviness

Flickr / Daria Nepriakhina
Flickr / Daria Nepriakhina

“Cancer has a way of deleting everything you could say.” I came across this line from an article I found on Thought Catalog. The whole article resonated with me, as if I was drowning in my own thoughts and it finally helped me breathe. The author managed to capture exactly how I was feeling as a result of my mother’s cancer. The moment you find out, your whole world stops. People around you keep talking, cars keep moving, life keeps going, but for a few moments you’re frozen, unable to move or speak. No tears, no voice, no air; you’re trapped in your own thoughts. That is, of course, until a few hours later when the tears start. And then they don’t stop.

That was the first worst day of my life. From there, life became a mix of hope and doctor’s appointments and fear and chemotherapy sessions, and then again some more hope. The chemotherapy was over, things finally started to get better. My mother was back to her old self; she even went on a month-long Europe trip. I was starting to think that this was it, we beat it. I thought I was done being hurt by cancer. But then it was November of 2014, just over two years after her diagnosis. We were at the grocery store and she had just picked me up from the airport after I had spent 6 days in British Columbia. I hadn’t seen her in 6 days, but that was all it took. I noticed it but I couldn’t say it, I didn’t want to believe it. I was staring at her and she looked back at me and as soon as her mouth opened to speak I knew what she was going to say. My heart broke for both of us. “My skin is yellow, isn’t it.” It wasn’t so much a question because she knew the answer, and she knew I noticed it too. The cancer was back and the tumours had grown. Here we go again.

I wasn’t happy, but I was ready. “It will be just like last time,” I thought to myself. “She’ll finish this round of chemo and then she’ll be better again”. That was in November. Today is the second worst day of my life. My mother had another routine CT scan earlier this week, just like she does after every round of chemo. I hadn’t heard much about the results so I was expecting that her condition had mostly stayed the same. “Did mom tell you about her CT scan results?” I was driving my dad to school and as soon as I heard the tone in his voice I knew something was wrong. I told him no, and for a few moments we both sat in silence. Internally, I was panicking. “The doctor said the last round of chemo did nothing. The tumours have grown, and they’ve spread to her abdomen. They’re going to try a new experimental round of chemo to see if it works.” I felt the air escape from my lungs as I tried to hide how I was feeling from my father. A quiet “okay” was all I managed to get out. I couldn’t cry in front of my dad; he has gone through so much and he is still so strong, I knew seeing me cry would destroy him. So I had to be strong for him, too.

“This is the end,” I thought to myself. This is the beginning of the end. From here, it will only get harder. But I will continue to look for encouragement in all things. You might be beginning to think that I am being quite pessimistic; I would say that I am being realistic. Recently I read a book called The Last Lecture written by Randy Pausch about his life and his battle with pancreatic cancer. Though there are many inspirational moments in that book, the one part I always find myself thinking of when I’m having a hard time is when Randy finds out his cancer has spread throughout his body. This is the moment that Randy and his wife realize that his battle was coming to an end. “Whatever news we get about the scans, I’m not going to die when we hear it,” he said to her. “I won’t die the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, well this is a wonderful day”. I keep these words in mind when I need to remember to focus on what is right in front of me, and to not worry about the parts of the future that I cannot control. So for now I will just try to enjoy each day as it comes. And maybe tomorrow will be the next worst day of my life; but that day is not today, so today is a good day. TC mark

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  • http://alisharobson.wordpress.com akrobson

    I am so sorry about your mother’s illness. I, too, have a mother who is in stage 4 of colon cancer. The chemo has not been as effective as it was the first time around. I have experienced so many emotions, but I have found that I can only live one day at a time. From this experience, I have also learned that I must enjoy the days that I have and not take them for granted. Cancer really puts into perspective what really matters. I will be thinking about you and your mom.

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