Thursday, April 3, 2008

Another Bullet Dodged

When I was 13 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the day she told me what it was, and what they would have to do to make her better. It was a summer day, hot and bright, and she was sitting in a lawn chair while I sat in the grass. I remember the light glaring off of my father's white t-shirt, blinding as he turned and walked away.

13 years later, the doctor found spots on the upper lobe of her right lung. So we all waited, fearful, as she underwent tests and scans and more appointments, and I spent my nights feeling restless and trapped, my mind going in circles. What if, what if..what if this is the last year? The last mother's day? Christmas? What will we do, with her gone? I reverted back to that 13 year old girl, sitting in the long grass, stomach twisting as my thoughts chased each other round and round. Mom put up her strong front, saying that whatever happened, she would deal with it as she had dealt with years of illness, and cancer, and other health problems that by now would have sent most people to their beds.

My fiance was my support system. When my sister called to make sure I was OK, I shuffled her off the phone quickly so she wouldn't hear my voice break, and then I sat down and cried. The doctor thought it was probably cancer, but was confident that he could remove it. But still, what if...

This past Monday, my sister took our mother to her final appointment, the one where they'd finally give her the results. I sat at work and tried to think of other things, of anything else, anything at all. I answered phones and replied to e-mails and moved like a robot through the day, watching the clock constantly, wondering if they'd told her yet.

At 2:45, my mother called me, voice joyful, my sister laughing in the back ground. No cancer. The spots had disappeared. The doctor talked of infections in her lungs that had probably caused the spots, and then had gone away when she had been on antibiotics for an infection in her finger. She still has other problems with her lungs caused by her autoimmune illness, but nothing so bad as cancer.

We can all breathe, now. Another bullet dodged. My mind can finally rest and my stomach can unclench. Mom can stop making arrangements in her head, planning what would happen at the end. Finally, this year is looking up.

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