Please enjoy the third story in our series “The Loving Kindness Project”:
As a somewhat anti-social person, I did not immediately notify anyone of the dreaded diagnosis.
The BIG C. Not spouse, not children. Not friends. NO ONE. It was not for fear of pain, it was not for fear of death. It was just me. The way I am. My privacy. Biopsy…me. Surgery…me. Emotionally…me. Financially…me. Spiritually…God has my back but otherwise, I was that island they say no man is. Self-sufficient, a virtual Goliath in more than height. Until I met David; chemotherapy that is. That threw me. Loss of taste led to loss of appetite, to loss of energy, strength and weight. Almost to the loss of me…but for her.
SHE is my mother. Golden in more than name. A veritable fount of strength in a frail body. I did not see but I know she cried. But she was there. Everyday, everywhere. Her pot was my salvation. Chicken soup EVERYDAY. Couldn’t taste it, but it was the only thing that would go down. It got me through. SHE got me through.
Mum cooked my favourite foods. Little did she know they no longer were. Mum called every day, when I was not at her home, to make sure I still was…alive that is. Mum offered up her ‘burial fee’, a supreme sacrifice for the elderly. I refused. Mum tried to fatten me. Impossible. Mom cooked for my children…so I wouldn’t have to. Mum massaged my limbs. They no longer worked as legs. Mum delivered my food to the bed….because I didn’t have the energy to reach the table. Mum babysat my three-year old…a Herculean task. The only thing she didn’t do was lift me up, physically that is, because she couldn’t. Mum is everything that a mum should be. No flattery.
Mum kept me alive. Appreciated all the more because I didn’t ask. I never do. Assistance that wasn’t stifling. She provided me the opportunity to be honest about my situation, about my emotions, with someone who truly understood. In this way I managed to avoid the uncomfortable encounters with those well-meaning persons who aren’t sure how to react and found that ignorance of my situation in general elicited more honesty.
Whilst the story of my cancer diagnosis and the manner in which I dealt with it, delivered in my usual stoic manner, may not seem particularly earth-shattering, I am not in denial. I appreciate that everyone copes, or fails to cope, differently. I’m available for anyone who can appreciate my reality-facing, no-nonsense stance and have in fact commenced encouraging friends and colleagues to make routine breast checks to ensure early detection.
Some consider cancer a death sentence and the reality is that for some it is. I don’t. For me, everyday is the beginning…the INTEREST on that loan called ‘Life’.