That terrible word, that scary word that word that brings terror into the lives of all families. Cancer. She has cancer. My beautiful, lovable, intelligent daughter. The one who goes out of her way to help other people, every day showing her family and friends how much she loves them, has cancer.
She called me one night to talk to me. We often had these mother-daughter talks about nothing in particular. “Mom” she said, “I found a lump in my breast. I don’t want to worry you, my doctor says that it is probably just a benign cyst” She lives in another city, 800 miles away so I could not even give her a hug and tell her not to worry. But worry we did. Her doctor sent her for a mammogram, then she sent her for other tests, and then finally for a biopsy. Then the frantic phone call came, “Mom, I have breast cancer. The tests are positive for ductal carcinoma in sutu-whatever that means. I have to have surgery. Can you come?” After we both had a good cry, we both looked up the information on the internet. This is a very aggressive type of cancer and has to be dealt with immediately. She is 34 years old. It should have been me. I have lived my life already. She is just starting hers. It should have been me. As a parent, you always want to protect your children, but how was I going to protect her from this?
I did go to her for her surgery, and managed to take my vacation from work to be with her. She is single and fortunately has lots of support from her group of friends. However, I did have to ask them all to go home when they welcomed her from the hospital with flowers and a little party. There were 14 people at her house when she got home! She was very sick and upset, and needed someone to help her drain the fluid out of lymph nodes and change her dressings. Being this sick is very difficult for a 34 year old whose life is still ahead of her.
After the surgery, she started her radiation treatments. She was so brave throughout the whole ordeal. Then, the ever so frightening chemo treatments. She was very sick, unable to work and all of her hair fell out. Her beautiful hair. Her dark brown, naturally curly hair. She was terrified. We were all terrified.
When the treatments were all over, it took her many months to feel better. She was fatigued and had anxiety attacks. Her doctors diagnosed it as post traumatic syndrome.
She had to be treated for depression and could not work. She did have disability insurance to tide her over for awhile. What a struggle this was for her. If I could have taken away any of the physical and mental pain she went through, I surely would have done it.
One year later she had another check up and she was cancer free. For the time being. A check up every year for the next five will have to be done, and each year we keep our fingers crossed. She is now entering her second year. Clear so far. Her fatigue has still not passed though, and her life will never be the same. She had to take retraining as the job she had before her cancer was too stressful. ” I just want to have some fun, Mom, I just want to live my life. I don’t want any more stress or striving to make the big bucks. I just want my life back.”