What A Difference 3 Months Can Make

Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty five years and you pay it back and then one day you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then one day you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe. ~Denis Leary

During a pre-op physical for my upcoming foot surgery, I was asking my doctor a few questions about some health concerns-namely that my mom died of cancer and I was advised by her doctor to get a colonoscopy sooner than the recommended age of fifty. She asked me what type of cancer my mom died of and I was simply stunned that I couldn't remember the name of it!

Just a mere four months ago, I lived and breathed the hated phrase 'Adenocarcinoma' but all I could think to say was, "I think it began with "endo..." I couldn't remember what my own mother died of and for the life of me, I couldn't even recall the simple word "oncologist" when describing my mother's doctor who told me to get a colonoscopy sooner because of the type of cancer my mother had.

Was it so long ago? No, of course not. But my mother died of cancer and it doesn't matter what type of cancer it was...it still ravaged her and took her too soon and very violently. Maybe my brain just blocked out the details after her death and it was far easier to say stomach cancer than a very rare form of cancer that develops in cells lining glandular types of organs (namely the colon, stomach, pancreas and cervix) and spills death into her bloodstream destroying her everywhere.

They don't have a magnetic car ribbon supporting awareness for Adenocarcinoma. There isn't a walk I can do in her memory alongside other survivors because in most cases there isn't a survival rate.

I was in a Hallmark store buying a birthday gift last week and saw a little display of bracelets each showing a charm in the shape of a ribbon colored for a particular form of cancer. I thought about getting one, but was torn over stomach cancer and colon cancer. I just didn't know.

My mom died nearly three months ago and I find myself left with fuzzy details. If I try real hard to think of specifics of the cancer that took her, I remember our shared nightmare which began in late October with stomach pains. Her discomfort turned into an emergency surgery to repair a perforation in her small intestine and while the surgeon was in there rooting around, well, he found a nice little surprise called a malignant tumor that got sent on it's way to pathology only to return saying, "We're sorry, but she probably has only a few weeks to live."

And I wonder about these past three months since my mom died. Does time heal all wounds? I'd like to think that instead time allows other things to settle into your life to distract you from what happened. Time throws in worry about getting your income taxes done and how much weight have I lost on Weight Watchers this week and maybe I'd better check out that movie before it leaves the theatre.

Your life goes on because you're fortunate enough to be alive when your mother is dead. It's a simple hard fact. You come to the realization that your life is completely your responsibility now because your mother is gone and there's no one left to care about it but you. Looking after yourself means asking your doctor the uncomfortable question about when to get a colonoscopy. And I guess it also means forgiving yourself when you don't remember Adenocarcinoma because after all, what does it really matter? Dead is dead.

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  1. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Time doesn't heal all wounds - *especially* the emotional ones. Time only slows (and eventually stops) the bleeding of them, but the scars will always remain. I guess you could say those scars are your magnetic ribbons, and eventually in life everyone gets at least one ribbon with their own unique color and shape that no specific charity exists for.

    Your life always has been completely your responsibility. I think you are just realizing this now - not because there is no one else left to care about it (as there are people in your life who DO care about it), but because you have looked after the well-being of others for so long that you have forgotten about yourself.


  2. I don't know Mick, but I agree. Could not have said that better.

  3. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Kimmy - you know I've had pain, in fact I still deal daily with different varieties of it so I know this - time is wonderful but it does not work miracles. Time will change things and your mind well help dull the sharp edges of what hurts, but losing your Mom will never be okay, and going through the torment of the loss with her will never be okay. You survived a terrible thing and came out the other side stronger, smarter and better for it and make no mistake - we care. We love you.