A cookie, carrot, car, candy, cucumber, coke, crayon, ok you get the idea that all this could be Big but not as big as being told you have Cancer…sush!! do not say it loud. Do not tell anyone. You hear these stories all the time. Well maybe you don’t. I, on the other hand, have heard it, seen it, dealt with it indirectly.
I have been on many car rides or train rides home with friends and a sister, who, after being told to see an oncologist, so right off the bat you defenses go on alert, that my head is spinning so I can only imagine what is going on in theirs.
Do you take an ad out in the local paper, do you post it on your front door, maybe a sticker on your car bumper. Most I know do exactly nothing for at least two days. They are trying to absorb it but for what outcome. To shield the spouse, children, parents, friends, work colleagues or to shield the reality within themselves. They do open up and tell family and friends within a few days and secretly hope that those they confide in will spread the word for them as to ease repeating and repeating “I have Cancer”. In some cases this is good in other cases it can prove stressful.
They went into a Dr.’s office and came out with the label of survivor. Must have hope, must have faith, must be strong, must beat this beast.
So most cancer patients have to decide next which treatment is right for them. They need to educate themselves best they can and never go to a Dr. alone. Always have someone with you carrying a notebook. No one can ever remember all the information you are about to receive and keep that notebook as long as you have to.
Chemo or radiation wow which would be more fun. But for some it is not the path they want or can take. Are they then not survivors, are they quitters, do they not have hope, not have faith or do they just accept the best way they know how and just deal.
Some go beyond chemo and radiation and enter experimental trial clinics. Is that suicide? No not if it is what they wanted. And who has the right to judge their decision? No one in my opinion unless, of course, they are extremely irrational about what is happening to them which brings me to my Big point.
My Big point I have in sharing this story is to be responsible for yourself. I believe everyone at 18 should have a will, a living health directive and be verbal about your life especially if you want certain situations to take place, in case, something were to happen to you and things do and can happen before you are 90. People die everyday from many different situations,cancer is just one of them and most people do not die from cancer but from what the cancer has done to vital parts of the body.
What can be said to someone with cancer. How to deal with someone with cancer.
Do not keep asking them how they feel. Do not tell them they look great when you and they both know they look like shit. They want you to just be yourself. Not to treat them like a freak show. Do not visit them in the hospital or at their home and then be quiet and just stare and if they are most verbal about not wanting visitors you need to help figure out what is best for all involved.
I have had three friends tell me when I die whatever you do make sure my husband has my casket closed I do not want people staring at me telling all around that I look good. My reply is did you tell him/them this info and their reply is usually ‘no’ so I have been elected to now deal with the grieving spouse. Not always a good scene. The words of ‘this is not what she would have wanted’ echos in my mind.
Well I have a friend and I decided to share her story. It is time. I have been watching ShowTime’s The Big C with Laura Linney and I am loving it and I am getting vibes from Susan. It is time to tell her story. Since I do not watch TV I think Susan in her magical way is the one who got me to even turn on the TV.
So Susan’s story starts here she is pregnant and having problems with her husband who decides to walk out. Susan is a strong woman and with the help of her friends and Mom she will be fine the baby will be fine. Well that is not how it played out. Meghan was born May 22, 1984 a healthy beautiful little girl. Susan, on the other hand, was delivered some not so good news. She had ovarian cancer. How could that be, she just had a baby, was the baby covered in cancer, did the baby have cancer also. Well four clinics later she was told point-blank that her the cancer was so advanced that with treatments the best would be 4/5 years. One Dr. the eldest actually hinted she do nothing the outcome would be almost the same. Time for Grandma Barbara to babysit so Susan and I could go listen to some good music, down a few drinks and talk. She chose to do nothing. At age 30 I personally found this a remarkably courageous and admirable thing to do. Since no else knew except her Mom and myself it was easy for Susan did not have to deal with stares or comments as to what is wrong with you fight! fight! She did fight she went to four clinics and made a decision.
The next 3/4 years were almost normal (a word I feel is often misused) what is normal? Susan enjoyed Meghan and her life and channeled out the future. She took care of legal stuff but did not sit counting days or complaining. Who know anyway when our time could be up. We could get struck with lightning, drown, die in an auto accident have a heart attack. Heck, my best childhood friend was murdered when I was 16. We think we have control of our lives but we waste much of that time controlling it. We should not wait to live our life we should appreciate and enjoy it each day we wake up. Yes life does get in the way sometimes and we can and do lose sight of that. If we all knew our fate we would probably hide under rocks or do what so many newly told cancer survivors do. They start living.
Well Susan’s days went into weeks into months into years until year 4. BAM Her mind was so powerful no one knew she had cancer, she worked, she played, she lived her life with her new baby daughter and her Mom. We even went to The Stone Pony a few times for the music. She did a joke with me about looking like a bowling ball in her third year but heck I just told her people who do not know will just think you are a baby making machine. She would laugh.
The Bam 4th. year started off a little rough but Dr.’s have drugs and we were prepared. Well personally I do not think anyone can truly be prepared but we had talked about a plan and I and her Mom were in control of this plan. All kinds of legal papers were taken care of two months after she gave birth and Tom the husband just stayed on the side lines quiet.
Now it was finally time she told everyone she was sick, well she actually told everyone that she was dying and no one knew what to say or what to do. She had avoided all this for three years now the zillion questions the multi zillion cures the billion zillion you should go see so and so or you need to take vitamins and yes all were from concern. Some people were angry that she had not confided in them sooner. For what to ease their conscience. The meds worked for the first 6 months than all hell broke loose. Blockage, dehydration, weakness never once complaining. We had a system worked out. The new-born was now 4 aware her Mom was ill but the word ill or sick was never used. The word Cancer was. Mom has cancer. One day she will sleep and God will call her to come live with him up in the heavens. Heck we Irish with the heavens. Susan was not sure about the heaven part but I told her that any God who would do this to any women better have his big Golden Gates Open to Welcome Her or have to deal with me. She would laugh so hard then pee the bed. Oh heck, we come into this world in diapers and most of us will wear them again before we go out. Actually some of my friends wear them on road trips(just in case) and after the day out with Bums this past Saturday I might be next in line. I was drinking all day and peeing -I am not one for public restrooms. I digress …
So Meghan was told that she can always talk to Mom, that she will always watch over us always. A cloud angel. No, we will not see her again but we have pictures and story books all around of fun times together since you were born.
Dr.’s and Drugs kept Susan comfortable and at home where she wanted to be. I or her Mom read her stories,we would laugh, cry, sing, talk and share our final months together. Painting in bed with a four-year old is some experience actually one that I treasure.
This little girl was losing her Mom. This Mom was losing her only daughter. I was losing a best friend, a concert buddy, a hang out college girlfriend. This girlfriend was losing her life and her daughter.
Susan died a peaceful death with a smile on her face holding the hands of all three of us. The husband stood in the room with tears flowing. Susan and Tom had worked things out over the years for Meghan’s sake. Two years later Susan’s Mom passed away I swear from a broken heart. The loss of her daughter was too much for her to bear especially when Tom took Meghan to live in CA where we never heard from either of them to this day. I have often wondered when I see 24/25-year-old girls could they be Meghan. I never liked Tom it was no secret. I know I know you are not supposed to not like anyone but we all have someone who we just don’t like. He was sneaky, I was never into sneaky. I shoot from the hip, always have and always will. He probably felt he would punish Barbara and myself by taking Meghan away. In my heart I feel Susan has watched over Meghan. Tom would never hurt Meghan but this was his way of being in control. Insecure people need to feel in control of things. He will not die a peaceful death when his time comes because he knew Susan would strongly disapprove of him keeping Meghan away from Barbara or myself. I remember talking to my Mom after Susan died. Maybe I should try to take Meghan away from Tom but two family lawyer friends said the courts would never rule in my favor it could be a mess in the courts and very unsettling for Meghan unless I had proof that he would harm her and in my heart I know he never would do such a thing.
RIP Susan 1989 RIP Barbara 1992
This blog is Dedicated to Meghan. If you are out there, somewhere, reading this, I loved your Mom, and she loved you so much. I can only hope that all the books we put together for you during your first four years your Dad shared with you. My heart tells me that he did the right thing once in his life for your sake. As for your Mom well we had one hell of a good time at concerts and classes at NYU. We shard a friendship of fun times together that I will treasure always. Mom and Your Grandma Barbara are watching over you all these years until you meet again. Peace and ♥