I’ve pretty much always had Mother’s Day covered via one angle or another. My Mom lived to be ninety-two. By the time she passed away in 2013, I had already been a mother myself for 15 years.
While I’ve usually looked back and reminisced on Mother’s Day … this year I look ahead into an uncertain future.
Daffodils … the flower of cancer … are on my thoughts today.
I have – or had – aggressive Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I have sixteen rounds of chemotherapy to complete in twenty weeks. After a short break, I will undergo twenty one days of radiation. Done on consecutive business days, I will do three 5-day cycles of radiation to my entire right breast, followed by one 5-day cycle of radiation directed at the site left by my 3.5cm tumour. Due to delays, hospitalizations etc. I expect to finish my treatment sometime in September.
People ask why I have to have chemo and radiation therapy if I had clean margins and no node involvement. It’s because no one can guarantee that just one cancerous cell didn’t escape in my blood vessels. All it takes is one cancerous breast cell to take up residence in my brain, in my bones, in my lungs or on my liver … and I have yet another battle to fight. It’s that simple … we are chasing one bad cell in the estimated 38 trillion cells in the human body.
To do that we have to kill ALL new replicating cells with blasts of chemo. The protocol is a balance of blasts long enough to kill the quickly replicating cancer cells … but not so long that my body can’t go on living.
Sometimes, the cancer survives.
Somedays the odds are overwhelming.
I’ve had friends get angry when I talk about these statistics … but I have to.
Do you measure your time? Where will you be in one month? Six months? One year? Five? Ten? Twenty-five?
That’s one of the gifts of serious illness … your expiry date becomes much larger on the road ahead.
What if I am gone in a month? Too quick to think about because I have so much to say and do. But the financials and legals need to be tended to.
What if I am still battling cancer in six months? I have to prepare for a reduced salary on long-term disability.
Where will I be in a year?
This journey has been difficult on my son. I’m all he has. There is no relationship with the other side of the family. No contact. No gifts. No Happy Birthday cards. No “great job” emails. No financial support.
I’ve done my job in raising him … a fine, young man at nineteen if I do say so myself. But what else do I want to leave him other than money, an education and the structure of a safe environment to grow up?
I want to leave him advice on what to wear to his wedding.
I want him to remember the fun and laughter we shared trying to learn how to tie a tie from a Youtube video for his eighth-grade grad.
I want him to know I loved him from the moment I was pregnant.
And that he gave me heartburn because of all his hair. He was born on Groundhog’s Day a week late … evicted because seemed too comfortable in there. He hated if I used his bum as my table and put a plate on my belly … he’d kick it off.
I want to give him financial advice. Girlfriend advice. Job advice. Spiritual advice.
I need to tell him what life lessons I have learned … and what didn’t work.
I want him to stop stressing about failure.
I want him to know where the pictures are.
I want him to remember that I taught him how to ride his bike.
I took him to soccer, swimming and baseball.
I have to tell him again and again that he is and always will be the person I love most in this world.
As I write and blog, I’ve begun to research writing that book (the blog will be another book that he can read when he’s older!)
I’ve been trying to remember my stories … my father’s stories … my mother’s stories and record them into one spot so he will remember how loud I clapped when he played guitar in front of his whole school in Grade 4.
I don’t want anything from him for Mother’s Day … just his time. So we can create one more memory to add to that Book of Life.
Happy Mother’s Day 2017,