As we pack to head to NYC, I’ve decided to take on the treatment. I won’t know if the surgery will be radical or modified until the doctor calls. Modified is one side of the neck to back behind the ear. Radical being opened up ear to ear. The latter being due to both sides of the neck with cancer. Last year the left side was considered suspicious. The verdict to the rest of it is in. I’ll find out soon enough. Truthfully, I’m dreading the Pet scan the most because I don’t want to know if its anywhere else in my body.
Just to be blunt here, I’m counting the minutes until I can never walk into a medical facility again.
I’ve had many people who have known me my entire life tell me they’ve never known me to not be a fighter. They’re right. I can’t walk away from this, and the lumps have been overlooked for too long from negligence on many doctors part and my assuming them to be from Lyme Disease, to take on with holistic avenues only. I’d bet cold hard cash its in my lymph nodes in which they will need to cut out. I’m afraid for Bobby and Drew but I myself am not afraid to fight back. A month after this thyroidectomy the patient is then put in isolation at the hospital for the taking of radiation pills or liquid treatment. Bobby is refusing to not be in the room with me. It’s okay to put radiation in me but he’s not allowed near it. Wish me luck on enforcing that. All I want to do is to protect them both but sadly a person can’t after you all face such news.
My focus this past week has not only been relishing in the deep love my husband and I share, rediscovering my lifelong spirituality, and also staying positive and busy with my girl.
Many discussions were necessary, this being a vital one.
I rarely saw my mom let herself fall apart. Having six children, working a full time job, being against alcoholism while my dad was a consistent beer drinker, you can imagine the hardships she faced at times. Although, she always held herself strong, tried and true.
This is one of the handful of times I saw her fall apart. Although my mom was a rock, she was also very compassionate, unselfish, loving and kind. She cared so deeply for flowers, music, poetry, children-especially her own. She also idolized her sister, Lois. She always said she saw Lois more as her mother than her sister. Going back and forth living with my grandma Belford in Pennsylvania and Aunt Lois in West Virginia.
You would wonder why, but that’s another long heartbreaking story in itself. I’ll say this, I learned loyalty from my mom. After much abuse as a child, abuse that would stay with a person for life to learn about and it being the main reason I’ve always fought for children’s rights. When my grandma (my moms biological mother, as she put it) was in the Curry Home for years after a stroke, this particular unconditional loyalty was taught to me. Every single Sunday, as soon as mom got off work she ran home to blow the horn and take me to visit grandma. Our ritual, twice a week was always picking up two cheeseburgers at McDonalds and two Reese’s cup candy bars to sneak in to grandma. After leaving one day I asked, “Mom how can you do this every week after what happened to you in her care?” As her sharp green eyes focused on my same green eyes she answered, “Because regardless of how terrible she was with her children, I wouldn’t be here, you wouldn’t be here without her”.
The loyalty showed in mom’s favorite person as well. Aunt Lois was a marvelous person. The type where you would walk away thinking, “She’s amazing, is she for real?!” Just like my mom, you would have to have met them both to get what I am trying to convey. Aunt Lois was Godlike, but not preachy. She was loyal and in love with her home state of West Virginia, just as my mom. Mainly because of the nature, animals, mountains, beauty, and living there on her horse farm. Even though my mom and aunt grew up in an abusive environment, she was the best mother one could be to her children. Just as my mom, with her biggest and only fear; losing one of her children.
Thankfully, I remember Aunt Lois clearly, and mom talked about her from as long as I can remember. When the song, “I Was Country Before Country Was Cool” – by Barbara Mandrell came on, the emotion would show in Moms face every single time.
“That song was written for your Aunt Lois”, she’d always say.
I never felt as though I could live up to the fact I looked so much like my mom. My mom and my parent’s friends told me I looked just like her every day. I see it in the mirror and hear it all the time to this day and I still don’t think I can live up to it and that’s okay, but I won’t.
She was so stunning to me. The epitome of femininity.
The icing on the cake was hearing my mom tell me, “You are a lot like your Aunt Lois”. I thought, “As if looking like mom isn’t enough, I could never be the saint Aunt Lois was to her”.
After a shocking, grueling, and out of nowhere death of my Aunt Lois from Brain Cancer, my moms sister and mother in her eyes, I watched a great deal of pain I didn’t understand at the time. My dad was crushed as well. I was very young and death put me in the state of confusion. A kid doesn’t understand death, I remember when dad would get new cattle mom would bellow out, “Don’t name them!” . Now I know what that meant of course. As a kid, all I knew was I’d never see that person again and my mom was extremely sad. I remember missing my mom’s smile and laugh. My dad playing heartfelt songs on the piano.
It broke my heart for mom because I loved her so much. My mom mourned her dad’s death from the time she was six. You could tell by the way she talked about him. Now she had to suffer with this as well. I recall many times asking God to help her feel better, when praying at church or bible school. I always prayed for my mom, especially for me to die before her. That was a constant prayer. Depressing thought for a kid but true memory.
Some time later after Aunt Lois died, one particular day my mom answered the phone all to drop the receiver and break into tears from obvious pain. We were all baffled. Our cousin, my mom’s niece, Aunt Lois’ dear daughter Beth who Aunt Lois was very close to, had escaped her abusive husband to then walk off the plane and find him standing there in public, with a gun and he shot and killed Beth.
After my mom grieved for some time, in her quiet, reflective, strong way as she normally did. One of our many nights staying up late talking together she told me something powerful I will never as long as I live forget; a story I shared with my girl before this trip, since she loves me so much and adored her nana.
My mom said, “I want you to always remember, there’s a reason for everything. Whether that’s from God or some sort of energy, there’s always a reason. I’m finally at peace with the loss of Lois”. I was in awe and in relief. “Why mom? How?” She replied, “Because your Aunt Lois never would have survived the death of Beth and she believed in God so much, she would’ve felt complete shame to kill herself but she would have gone through with it. She never could have survived the death of one of her children. Lois was meant to go before that happened. Now I have my answer to her being taken. No matter what happens remember there really is a reason for everything”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan to leave this earth yet. I have full intention of fighting this cancer every step of the way. It can happen. This diagnosis is not an automatic death sentence. Although, I only have the power to fight back and even though I would rather eat a live rattlesnake then to see Drew and Bobby suffer, I would take any pain for them to be spared. The word cancer, not knowing if time has caused it to spread elsewhere, and the impending battle one awaits to face, gives a person the ability to reflect and use the pivotal information the important generation before you shared. My girl found this story to be positive. This being one of her favorite things I have shared. I am not surprised my mom is still here to protect myself and Drew. I am more grateful to the ease of mind in any way for my daughter, than anything else.
I know in my case, I have experienced signs. I’m a believer in signs. For one, when Bobby asked Sloan-Kettering to give me the best for my situation, they called back to let us know my doctor will be ‘Dr. Morris’. Also when my biopsy packet was sent overnight to NYC as I checked the status of delivery, I was floored and yet comforted to see the signature for the package. ‘H. Morris’. My dad’s middle name is Donovan, he signed everything H. Morris. My pap was ‘H. Morris’ as well.
This news has enlightened me to another plateau. Maybe this was supposed to happen to me so I could be drawn closer to God, a higher power that I believed in all my life. Possibly this was the road that I had to follow so I would wholeheartedly, encourage Drew to live at college and not at home so she could develop her own independence and free will. Maybe it was so I could let go of the anger and bitter remorse I live with every day of losing my parents so close together. Perhaps it was so I was forced to face my fear.
Even though I made it a rule to only laugh and talk about the good memories of my mom after her death. This diagnosis and trip this week has opened my eyes to do something I never thought I could, to finally let go.
To not let being bitter override the beauty of her being here. I should have known better, my mom always gave me plenty of talks on what being bitter can do to a person. I will never forget or stop missing her of course, but I’ll stop giving myself ulcers or added cancer with discussing what happened to her. Just as she accepted with Aunt Lois, I’ve finally accepted it was simply her time.
It’s something how your family can save your mental state. Even though my mom was a fan of Sinatra, old classic Hollywood, and gowns. Mom and Aunt Lois had the mutual love of West Virginia, they also had the colossal desire to be maternal even though they weren’t given any idea how, the devotion for what’s good decent and right, in common. For my life, they were also the best I’d ever witnessed in sisterhood. Along with two lifetimes of an excellent example in humanity and comforting two more lives even without their presence.