Thursday, January 8, 2015
CB's grandmother, my ex-mother-in-law, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma nearly a year ago. She and I talk often and have remained very close, despite the fact that I divorced her son. She told me lots of things after her diagnosis, but the thing that moved me most was when she told me about her very first prayer. It was a prayer to live for her only grandchild; our shared love; our CB. She told me that she came home and prayed with a quiet fierceness "Please God, let me live for this little girl."
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer last month, I didn't offer up the same prayer. I never had even a fleeting thought that things weren't going to be okay. I didn't need to pray to live. It wasn't even in question for me, not for a nanosecond. I just went into problem-solving mode — What the F* do I gotta do to get this out of my life as quickly as possible. Squash it like a bug, and move forward, unapologetically, without looking back.
But I can't lie and say that a diagnosis like this doesn't carry a certain weight when you are the long term caregiver of someone. The stakes are raised when someone so fragile, so vulnerable and so dependent on you for everything short of breathing and sleeping is in your charge. Everyone offering to watch your kids? Awesome! But, how many people can really feel comfortable watching CB? I'll let you use your imagination to answer that.
There will come a time when my three little girls don't need me anymore. I mean, they'll need me in the way that everyone needs their mother. But not with a complete dependency for all daily self care needs. Not as an advocate and a protector. When I'm gone, that job will go into the hands of others and the thought is beyond terrifying.
Just a few days ago, I was trying to change my Oncologist to someone who is basically "da bomb" in the cancer world. I wanted the person who had the most amazing reputation as both a person and a doctor ... which meant so did everyone else.
"She's downsizing her patient load right now," said Vicky, Dr. G's patient coordinator and scheduler. I politely, kindly and humbly kept the pressure on. No water works, no begging, no card-playing. Just talking to a nice woman with whom I'd already had a great conversation with the week prior. Just not giving up while still being nice.
"Oh, you'll never believe it," she said after a few minutes. "Tomorrow Dr. G actually has an opening at 8 am."
"Holy crap, are you SERIOUS!" I squealed. I started laughing and thanking her profusely and gushing on and on. Suddenly, words were spilling out of my mouth, unexpected and raw... of how I needed to get well for my eldest daughter and why. Of how I needed to not just survive but be STRONG and healthy for her. Of how I had to outlive her by just one single day. I gushed with happiness while sharing this most ragged, painful reality of my life.
And though the edge of this truth slices me to my core, it was the woman on the other end of the phone who began to cry.