Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What a difference a week makes.

Funny how you know yourself so well, but you still struggle, even though you know what you need to do. And doing that thing is still hard. You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to open that door with your own sister, one you love and are close to.

All I needed was to hear her voice and have a conversation - any conversation, really. Many conversations. Even though there is one big thing going on that is NOT part of what we would have previously called our "normal" lives, we have to recognize that it is going to have to become the new normal. Then we still have our kids, school, families, jobs...and those things deserve our attention, too. They will be key in helping her keep the cancer in perspective, and not letting it take over. I know I was worried about what I could do for her - not any more. I think I get it. And it's not anything I can buy or touch or, right now, really articulate.

During these two weeks since the initial diagnosis, I think the shock of the news left us all reeling, wondering what seat we should take on sister's breast cancer bus. Everyone, myself included, who love M needed to do something, wanted - needed - a seat. (And a couple of folks really want that seat up front). But what we really needed to do, still need to do, is just wait and sit where she wants us to sit. I think she'd prefer a minivan...but that's never going to happen. Too many people love her too much.

What has been the hardest so far, other than the news itself, has been the waiting. She had her surgery yesterday, and we got exactly what we'd hoped for - no surprises. But we have to wait for almost a full week for pathology to come back and let us know if any of those pesky cancer cells have snuck out of that golf ball-sized tumor and wandered into the lymph nodes, or farther. I can't imagine how good it must feel, though, for her to know that mean old tumor is not in her body any more. I hope that she is finding peace in that as she awaits the next round of news.

Prior to the surgery date, I kept telling people that I wanted to be there for my Mom. Wanted to support her through the process. Ha. Who was the one who broke down when the surgeon was giving us the low-down? Me. Who lost it two more times before we left the hospital? Me. Sometimes that reality just comes crashing down on you, and no matter how prepared you are, and how badly you want to be the strong one, you just are who you are. And I think I'm learning that it doesn't matter who is there for who - we're all there for M, and tears are a-ok.

Little side note...I am trying really hard to take the negative out, when possible, when referring to M's cancer journey. Cancer stinks, and the tumor was an ugly unwelcome visitor in her body. However the cancer journey happened for a reason, even if we've yet to fully understand what that reason is. But now that it's part of her life, I refuse to refer to it in a negative way, because, well, it's hers. She is a beautiful and wonderful person, and now, this journey is part of that.

So in that spirit, I'm going to try to make mention of anything positive that comes out of this. I have a couple. One is that I talked to my cousin today, and because of what's happened, she has scheduled a mammogram (she is under 40, too) to take a look at something that has been bothering her in her breast. Praying that it's nothing - but thanks to our cancer journey she's getting it checked out.

Two, and this one is a little farther removed, is my own introspection. This will be an ongoing story for me, I am sure. Today what I found, in my effort to reprioritize and figure out what's really important to accomplish during my waking hours, was a new pasture of peace and patience that allowed me to interact with my daughter in the loving and patient way I've been striving for. Homework at 7:30, right before bed, a lovely 1/2 hour spent with my 7 year old - unheard of, right? It was heaven, and I need to find that place much, much more often. In an indirect but significant way, I have M to thank for that.

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