Cancer is an ugly little word. It conjures up all kinds of images in my mind whenever I hear it. It’s amazing how this six-letter word can evoke such strong feelings – anger, fear, compassion, strength – all at the same time it seems. As ugly of a word it is, we seem to hear it far too often nowadays, don’t we? Everyone knows someone – a close relative, a friend of a friend, the neighbor down the street – who has been affected by cancer in some way. And their stories are as varied as the types of cancer they have: She’s been in remission for five years. He lost his battle too soon. She’s undergoing treatments. He’s a fighter. Her cancer has spread. He lived a long, healthy life despite the odds.
In the past two months, I’ve stood by my mother’s side as she began her story and underwent two invasive and taxing surgeries. To watch someone so important to you suffering and in pain is difficult. Extremely difficult, and yet I’ve watched her turn her anger or frustration into a laugh or a smile. I’ve watched her face brighten at the sound of a long-distance family member or friend’s voice, or when local friends have stopped by to bring her cards and flowers and the latest gossip.
I’ve learned all too well in this year alone that it takes a village to help us get through some of life’s hardest moments. I believe her village is a strong one and it will help keep her laughing through the hard times. I am positive my stepdad will keep her laughing everyday by cracking jokes. I also believe that grandkids have this unbelievable healing power, especially when they are as silly and goofy as their special Grandma “Emmm” and love to laugh as much as she does.
Mom, we are going to get through this together. You will never be alone. And remember what Nurse Juney said: Just breathe.