feeling spared...

Three years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I still remember the phone call where she told me they found cancer in one of her breasts. I remember feeling my heart skip a beat, my chest become tight as if a hundred pound barbell was laid upon it. I remember thinking that there must be some mistake because my mother - was invincible. We want to believe our parents will live forever but the reality is, they won't. That day that I learned my mother wasn't invincible, changed me. My mother is a survivor, she's cancer free 3 years and counting and there is not a day that goes by without me telling her how much I love her. Sometimes I call her, sometimes I send an email, but one moment in every day that I wake up alive - I reserve just for her.

One week ago I woke up with swollen lymph glands under my arm. When I ran my hand under my arm and felt a lump, once again my heart skipped a beat. Cancer was the first thought that popped into my mind, the second was, "My babies need me." At first I tried to ignore the thoughts but I'm one of those people that never has much success quieting that 'little voice' inside my head. I called the doctor and made an appointment and was kind of disappointed when she told me I had to go for an ultrasound. I wanted her to tell me it was nothing and I'd be fine so I could go back to my life the way I needed it to be. I debated on telling my mother, partly because I didn't want to worry her, partly because I didn't want her - to worry me. I ended up telling her because that's what her and I do, we tell each other things. She told me it was probably nothing but I could tell by the pause in her response that she was now afraid she'd passed something 'unwanted' on to her child. I couldn't get in to get an ultrasound until today so for the past week I've been contemplating the worst. One moment I thought I'd convinced myself that everything would be alright and in the next, I'd be begging God to spare me for my children. Maybe I'm selfish but I cannot bear the thought of my children growing up without a mother. For them not to be able to call out to me when they needed to me. There are a gazillion words in this language but none compares to "Mom". Death robs you of that word. I cannot put into words how much I love them, just know that it's more than I ever imagined loving anyone. So this morning I went to the hospital to get the ultrasound and as I sat in the waiting room with my husband, he gently held my hand as if he were afraid he might break me if he held on too tightly. The nurse called my name, I took a deep breath and stood up to follow her. Never in my life have I dreaded moving my feet more than I did at that moment. One foot in front of the other I slowly made my way to the place that may change my destiny. I undressed and laid on the table trying desperately to pull the gown over my exposed skin. My nakedness seemed due less to my lack of clothes and more to the fact that I felt completely powerless. A few months ago I laid on a table similar to this one as they swirled a wand around my belly to see the life growing inside of me yet now the wand was in search of something that could end my life instead of fulfilling it. I studied the nurse's face instead of the screen with the hope that her expressions would give me the hope that I needed. As I stared at her, this stranger, I placed an enormous burden on her shoulders - the burden of making everything alright. As unfair as making someone your savior is, I could not help myself. Finally the nurse told me she would go get the doctor and I convinced myself that this could only mean bad news. When the doctor came in she was quick and to the point, "Everything looks normal, the nodes are most likely swollen due to an infection, a cold or some other virus." At first, I believed I'd willed the doctor to say what I wanted as if I were a ventriloquist but then she repeated, "There is no mass, no cancer, you can get dressed and go." She had no bedside manner but I didn't care, still I wanted to hug her. I dressed and made my way out to the lobby to tell my husband the good news and somehow his arms around my shoulders never felt so good.

I'm not sure if you've ever experienced how it feels to have your life handed back to you, but if you have then you know what grateful means. I took a moment, that moment I take out of each day just for my mom, and I called her. "Everything is ok Mom." I'm so very thankful that word has not been stolen from me.


  1. lash505 said...
    I thought I had skin cancer under my arm. I waited to go to the doctor scared of the conformation. After I had played my funeral out several times in my head, I decided to go to the doctor. The thought of leaving my boys was eating at me. The doctor looked and said no it was not cancer because the sun doesn't hit on the underside of your arms. I had to convince myself that I wasn't dying of skin cancer anymore.
    Southern Sweetheart said...
    I've walked that same road with my mother and her bought with breast cancer so I know well how you feel. My mom is a survivor too and I am so very grateful for everyday I have to tell her I love her.

    I'm so happy to hear that your news was not bad news and that you are alright!!! :) It does make you see life through a new set of lenses doesn't it?
    Lori said...
    Seven years ago my doctor found a bleeding lesion in my brain. I will never, ever forget the absolute terror of that time and the days and weeks that followed: how I watched my little boy run down the street beside the car as we pulled away, on our way to Mayo Clinic, then saw him wave in the rearview mirror as his image grew smaller. The tests and hours of waiting, the uncertainty and fear as a single mother. I can very much relate to what you wrote..and remember those feeling vividly.

    I'm so glad that your mother is doing well and it's wonderful that you realize what a blessing she is and tell her each day. I'm also very close to my mom and am thankful that she is in my life and heart. God bless you both.
    kimmyk said...
    I'm glad you got a clean bill of health. It's scary. I think we've all had one scare or another in our life that makes us look at everything and wonder what if...I'm glad you're ok...and it's good to know your momma is good too. Moms are so important, but you knew that already, huh?
    Trudging said...
    God is good all the time, all the time God is good.
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    atpanda said...
    Lovely post. Cancer is too much a part of our world. So much so that we almost expect it...

    My mother has leukemia and I recently had to have a lump removed from my neck because they were concerned about my 'increased cancer risk'. Sigh.

    I am so sorry for the scary time you went through.

    This is my first visit to your site. I'm going to look around for a while.

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