Over the previous eighteen months, mom had been very forthcoming with new information about her health status, every time she had new test results or saw her doctor. This time felt different. Mom had waited almost a week before sharing her pet scan results in January 2005. At the time, she told me that she had spoken with my sisters also so I assumed they were aware of what I knew. The results that 20 tiny tumors were scattered throughout her left lung and something abnormal was showing up in the lining of her lung. My heart was breaking as I felt how scared she must be of this news. My dear sweet mother who always gave 100% of her heart and soul to everyone was not well.
I made it through the weekend staying busy, enjoying my children and trying not to think of the news the next week would bring. I spoke with some of my sisters but we stayed away from the topic of mom and her health. On Monday, I went to work and was let down by the news that the job I was being considered for was offered to someone else. I had allowed myself to feel the life giving energy that this job process was feeding me, the chance to use my mind in a strategic way. All signals were that the job was for me. Every time I had interviewed and asked for feedback, all reports were glowing. As I processed the news, my heart sank and felt like it was breaking in two. Here it was, a promise of something new, a fresh start, and all of a sudden, the door was slammed shut. Or so it felt inside. Mom had taught me that when doors were closed or my dreams were not realized, it was God’s way of protecting me from things that were not right or could have been harmful. As much as I knew in my mind that something was not right for me in this job, tears of disappointment flowed down my face. As sad as I was for me, I knew I needed to turn the process over to a higher power, let go and focus on mom.
I awoke Tuesday and imagined holding my mom in my love as she headed in for her biopsy. A few hours later, one of my sisters’s called very upset. Mom’s biopsy was not even finished yet. All of a sudden I felt the depth of fear my mom must have been experiencing. Mom had only shared details of the test results with me and my sister had just found out. This time was for sure different. I realized that if mom was that scared, she needed support but probably wouldn’t ask for it. When I checked in with mom later that afternoon, I offered to be at her side when she went to her doctor for the biopsy results. Mom was delighted with my offer and I flew in on Thursday.
She allowed me into her inner world, so very close the next two days. Mom picked me up from the airport alone, a first. I helped her cook dinner that night, something I never had really done before. I had always enjoyed baking sweets and my other sisters would help mom with dinner. She wanted it to be different that night and asked me to help her. So I did. It felt like we were in our own little pocket of space, spending time while the world stood still. As we were walking out the door to go to the doctor’s office the next morning, I learned mom had told my father he did not need to come. She really wanted him to go play bridge and enjoy his morning. I was quite shocked as I followed her out to the car. Wow, this time was different.
Mom and I drove alone to the appointment. We were led into the examining room by the nurse and one of my sisters’s joined us. As mom’s doctor entered the exam room, I could see the concern in his eyes. Mom sat on the table and I stood at her side, with my arm around her shoulder. I was facing her doctor as he lit up the xray on the box on the wall, displayed for us to see. Those 20 plus little tumors were cancer and it was spreading through her lungs. If only this was her breast cancer, he said, he could treat her with hormones. But he had checked that with her doctor in Houston. It was the rectal cancer, now metastasized. And radiation was not an option, because of the multiple tumors. Chemo was the only course of treatment, and he only had one or two drugs to offer. The same ones that had made her so very sick the year before. I held her in close as we processed the results. One more test was needed- a bone scan. My heart was breaking but I knew I needed to be strong, needed most to focus on supporting her.