Friday, August 26, 2011

Cancer Sucks

I have been trying to write this all week. It seems fitting that I finally managed today, on Daffodil Day. If you think 1 in 2 who gets cancer is one too many - please donate.

Some of my regular readers might remember that my Mother-out-of-law fought, and won the battle against lymphoma a couple of years ago. And that a few months ago, she told us that the cancer was back, and had spread. She has been going through chemo for the past few months, and did her usual job of staying cheerful and pretending everything is fine.

Until a few days ago when her acupuncturist had to call an ambulance to send her straight to hospital. Turns out she has an infection and needs to be monitored. Nothing too life threatening, but she got very, very sick for awhile there.

Lou came home from the hospital that night shocked by her condition. Vulnerable was the word she used. We are used to seeing her strong, and cheerful. ALL THE TIME (I used to think no one could be that cheerful all the time but she really is). She couldn't speak, couldn't move, it took ten minutes to transfer her from one bed to another.

And once again I felt entirely helpless. But I had to do something, so the next morning I gathered up some Better Homes and Gardens magazines (she loves them - bought me a subscription for my birthday and comes around to read them!), a box of her peppermint tea, and a bunch of lavender from our garden (there is nothing worse than the smell of a hospital room).

I rushed to get there before work, carrying my sleeping Little in over one shoulder (as I get bigger and he gets bigger this is getting increasingly difficult) and my bounty under my other arm. I walked in those doors and it just hits you.

There was a man, no older than forty, standing facing the doors, in his hospital gown, just staring. Waiting.
Every room I passed contained another person's love, lying in a bed, staring at nothing.
Utter desolation. I tell you Eden, this ward could use some of your Guerilla Art Attacks.
I found my Mother in Law's room, looked in, and kept walking. Until she called me back.

I could not believe that the old woman in the recliner was the woman I was looking for. And I understood why Lou came home so quiet. She looked sick. Old. And sick. It was the only time I have seen her without her wig. The first time she went through chemo, I was the one who cut off all her long curly hair and Lou shaved it down to fuzz. She still looked like her, only a funky Sinead O'Connor version of herself. This time, she let her hair fall out, so she just looks like a chemo patient, mostly bald, with a few long wispy bits. It makes her look old. And sick.

She smiled at me and called me in, and then I knew it was her. The smile was still her.

She lost her train of thought a few times as she spoke to me, but she could talk normally without gasping. Improvement. She had a bit of colour in her cheeks, and I knew she would be okay. You cannot keep this strong woman down for long. She has things to do.

It was only as I left and got back in the car that I remembered it was Book Week and my Big Kid wanted to dress up today. Poor kid was rushed out the door and dropped at the school gates in such a hurry I didn't even remember. We were so focussed on what was going on with MIL the night before that he barely got to speak to us. I was so focussed on getting her what I felt she needed that morning that I barely spoke to him. And bless his heart, he knew that what we were talking about was more important than his costume. I wish he didnt know of Cancer. I wish he hadn't seen death so close up that he understands it. I feel I failed him.

It turns out that I can be great at many things. At being a good mother, a good daughter, a good wife, or a good daughter in law. But only ever one at a time.

Daffodil Image from Daily Gloss -


  1. My heart goes out to you, Lou, and her mother. You're right - cancer SUCKS!

  2. What Alex said. I watched my father lose his battle. It was awful. My heart aches for all of you.

  3. heart-wrenching! so sorry to hear this. my dad had a fight with melanoma and kidney cancer, losing one kidney. so far cancer-free now though! there is always hope.

  4. So sorry you are dealing with this. Sending hugs and prayers to you and your family...

  5. Isn't it horrible how it ravages the body? I'm so glad she's fighting it and doing better. My sister was 35 when she passed away, and if I hadn't been led into her hospital room, I never would have recognized her. She looked like she was 80.

    Hugs to your family, sweetie!



Related Posts with Thumbnails