It has been a rough week in the cancer world. Thankfully not my mom, however friends of my mom, friends of both my mom and my dad, friends of mine have said good bye to loved ones with cancer and we've had to welcome new members into the cancer club.
I had to welcome in a new member of the Daughter’s with Mother’s with Cancer club, and the sub-group Lung Cancer. It has brought back a flood of memories and feelings.
I never put this nasty disease out of my mind, sometimes it just simmers on the back burner, and that’s when it starts to give off this horrible rotten stench of bad news. It is exhausting to have it always in the forefront of my mind and I welcome the time when it goes and hides in a back closet, although it always seems to come out with a vengeance as it has been being ignored.
Reminds me of a cat we had in Wisconsin. Foghorn was his name. He was a long haired orange tabby cat that adopted us, just meandered into the mudroom one day demonstrated he knew how to let us know he wanted to go outside and how to use the litter box and not be a pest to the other cats. Sure, welcome home cat. We named him Foghorn because he made a noise like a foghorn (we weren’t always the most creative cat namers – Black Tail and Red Tail were prime examples of this) he made this noise instead of purring or meowing. One day he disappeared just like he showed up. It was about a week and we looked for him all over the house and the farm and my mother figured he just moved on down the road to a new family.
In the bathroom across from my brother’s room was an ‘idiot’s closet’. A very strange storage space, half way up the wall and it had a door. We’d all been warned to NOT hide in there for hide and seek because there was no way to get out from the inside. So of course this was the favorite hiding spots for hide and seek. Usually it was us and the Gorman kids. They lived in the house before us and it was fun to play with them in the old rambling sometimes spooky house and barns. One of the 6 of us would get locked in at some point in time, usually on purpose by the seeker ‘accidentally’ closing the door because we all knew it was supposed to remain shut. My Mom and their Mom stopped getting mad at some point and when it came time to ‘count noses’ they just went up to the bathroom and let out whichever one of us was locked in.
We even checked the ‘idiot’s closet’ no Foghorn. But shhhh there was this strange noise in the hallway closet.
Whoever opened that door was greeted by the angriest orneriest hungriest cat they had ever met.
See how that worked, angry cat angry cancer?
Helps take my mind to a different place as I relive the emotions of my mother being diagnosed through my friend’s mother’s recent diagnosis.
I've never had a child, so I don’t know about repressing the pain of child birth enough to have another; some women say it is similar to the pain of finishing a marathon and then running another one. I’ve no point of reference here. Other than after I finished my first marathon I signed up for and ran my second one in less than 3 months, whatever pain I was supposed to feel from the experience I didn’t until the third one, and we don’t talk about it, and I don’t know if I’ll ever run another one, yes, it was that awful for me. Oh, don’t go bringing up a 50K is longer than a marathon it is a COMPLETELY different thing, trails, the bestest runners in the whole wide world total apples and oranges comparing a blissful 31 mile trail run with 150 people to a 26.2 mile slog on the road with a bazillion runners elbowing each other.
Absolutely I’m trying to get back into full on suppression mode of the emotions of a parent being sick. I can’t even imagine the emotions around losing a parent.
My friends mother’s appointment with the oncologist was yesterday, I checked in. I know I wasn’t so eager to share my pain but if someone asked I would unload. And unload she did. Ending with this:
“I will be honest, I am not well. Everyone around me is stressing me with mom's condition one way or another and I feel sick. I don’t even want to keep helping people anymore. I don’t have the strength in me for that and want to save it for mom. I don’t want to talk to people any more. I look strong in front of my family but I am broken inside. It hurts so much. “
And I broke down... All those emotions came flooding back…
I replied back starting with this:
“I know exactly where your head is. That over whelming desire to crawl up inside you and tell everyone to go to hell while you try and sort it all out.”
My advice to her was to put aside what could be put aside, say for a month, and revisit it then, when a new normal was starting to take shape. If someone offers to help, unload what used to be a joy and now is a burden, say for a month, and revisit it then, when a new normal starts to take shape. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I put on the back burner and what I didn’t; I went through the motions for many months maybe a year? When my mother’s chemo seemed to be working and first the tumor shrunk, then it stabilized, and then she said she had enough of treatment and the tumor stayed exactly the same after a year of CT every 3 months, then a year of every 6 months and now two years of once a year, slowly through each round of good news a new normal began to emerge for everyone.
So a big fat smack on the face is what happened, was it because I've been leaving cancer locked in the closet like Foghorn? Probably not. This is how life works, you have a run of peace and a run of non-peace, if it was all easy and smelling of roses 24x365 it would be boring, right?
Thanks for listening. As I told my friend, sometimes you just have to say it out loud and see how it sounds. Kind of like how a past boyfriend explained to me to tell when spaghetti was done, throw it at the wall and if it sticks it’s done.
Beth, who is now craving pasta and wants to hug her mom