What I Learned From the Cancer Diagnosis
A diagnosis of cancer.
On Thursday, I found out that an old friend has been diagnosed with cancer. No one, yet, knows what type of cancer she has, but, with an MRI scan, the cancer has been located in her lung, kidney, and femur. Tuesday, we will all know what type of cancer it is.
I was taken aback by the news. Somewhat dumbfounded, confused, and dazed. I heard the news only by accidentally bumping into her brother, my ex, at the grocery store down the road. This news was very new, though, and I think everyone was just trying to deal with what just happened. I immediately told two of my children since she is their auntie.
So, as you can imagine, my mind is not as present as it was prior to Thursday. I am still getting things done, but in the not so far distance of my thoughts, I think about her. I think about a life that may be cut short because of a growth that is now housing her body.
My son and I went to visit her on Sunday. It was a very pleasant visit. I got to see one of her brothers and his wife that I haven't seen in years. It was nice to see old familiar faces and talk like time in-between our last visit was only yesterday. They left and the three of us were there to chat, but, really, it was mostly to listen.
As I sat there listening to her and how she plans on approaching the tumors, refusing to do any chemotherapy, I started to think about why I waited so long to visit. I see her about once a year, but, really, once a year! How could that be good enough?
The importance of staying connected with the ones you love.
I preach to my children that life is 'always' busy, and you have to make time for the people you love and care about. They do and I do, for each other. That's what makes our bond with each other strong. We see each other weekly chatting on current events and work, talking about the deep issues of life and our goals, recipes and the food we eat, and laughing about everything. Just recently, I had seen the three of them on Saturday morning. Since they all live together, I was able to do a respiratory and cardiovascular assessment on two and them. I was glad they volunteered their time to do this for me so that I could practice my nursing skills. As a mom would do and an up-and-becoming registered nurse, I started giving my advice regarding health and blood pressure. They listened intently to my advice since mom is not rambling from some random self-help book anymore but from hard scientific facts.
Why do we wait so long to see the one's we love, or why do we wait so long to see certain people that we love?
The excuses we use to not see a loved one is not only about life's 'busyness.' We have thoughts that ruminate every once in a while which dictate why or why not we visit loved ones. There are definitely good reasons. Some family members, in my circle, were abusive in the past and still are today, so I chose to leave them. Some, that are not abusive, I have kept in touch with.
Does your ex play a role in visiting the ones you love?
Ex's play a different role, though, and this old friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer is a sister of my ex. I always found myself questioning the relationship between me and her and the rest of the family when I moved on with my life. It wasn't a smooth and easy end. She and I always had a close bond, though. I remember when she arrived at Lion's Gate hospital when Fabio (my youngest son) was only 9 weeks old after a respiratory arrest. She seemed to be the only one that cared for the children I had with her brother, at the time. She was the one that was never judgmental and that meant a lot to me. She was always sincere and humble.
Not seeing the love that was always there in front on me.
When I went to visit her on Sunday, I picked up on her heart-felt care and concern for me by what she keeps around her home. 23 years ago, I was into making topiary trees and wreaths, and sewing kids costumes, aprons, and oven mitts, as well as ornamental pillows. I made her a pink heart-shaped wreath arranged with moss, ribbons and flowers. This wreath, that is falling apart, still hangs on a hook on the outside of her door welcoming visitors. I asked her if I could make her another wreath. She refused. I then asked her if she wanted me to fix the wreath I made for her, and she said yes.
By removing the wreath, she removes the memories, and she doesn't want to remove the old memories that are so precious to her. She doesn't see the unsightliness of the dilapidated wreath. She only sees the memories of connected-ness, love, happiness, and the children. Sometimes I wonder, can I also see beyond the unsightliness of things in my life as she does? How beautiful is that. She also keeps a two and a half foot tall metal Eiffel tower that encases a candle the children and I bought her many years ago within her beautiful display just outside her front door.
What I learned from the cancer diagnosis.
My excuses are many. What does she think of me? Maybe she doesn't care? She doesn't have the time? She doesn't want to see me? I don't want to hear her say no and feel rejected. Maybe she's been influenced by the family. With these ruminating questions and statements, I am allowing time to pass as though life will never end. What I finally realized on Sunday was that she really did and does care about me, and not only about her nephews. That she always wanted me in her life, and even with my absence, I was a part of her life. It's my turn to step it up a notch now: to be there for her, to support her and her journey, to phone her, and to visit her.
Time is precious. Who knows how much time we each have on this planet. Spend it wisely with others--the one's you love.
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