And the doctor said…. ( para phrasing )
“The biopsy came back positive for cancer cells. We’re just not sure of the origin of the cancer cells so there’ll have to be research done on that. The next logical course of action would be chemotherapy, however your mother’s renal (kidney) function gives us pause. If the oncologist and nephrologist deem your mother’s kidneys not strong enough, at that point we may need to begin looking at comfort therapy.”
For the uninitiated, “comfort therapy” means “make you feel not so bad or too in pain while you die”. I really was taken aback by THIS information. Because you know… it’s been a while since I heard the words “terminal” dressed up so prettily. With my dad? They just came out and said it. And for the most part, I accepted that he hadn’t done what he needed to do in order to battle it back THIS time. And we had to come to terms with that statement.
So much more emotion went into this announcement for me. Firstly, I was OUTRAGED that the doctor would even SUGGEST that she would be unable to properly treat and rehabilitate my mother. How dare she give up so soon. I had a similar reaction when Earl asked me, after hearing the news “well, how much time does she have.” NOOOO I yelled. That’s the IMPROPER QUESTION. I have NO interest in how much time she theoretically has if these quacks don’t do their job. I NEED to hear, “listen, we were just being dramatic. She’ll be going through chemo shortly; back to her old self in NO TIME.” HOW DARE THEY!!!! This is MY MOTHER.
And after the rage settled down. Fear.
Fear that my mom’s lack of desire for living will make the fight even harder. Fear that I can’t provide her any assurances or even a little light smile now and again. She looks through me, at best. Fear that at this time, no one in the world knows how to allay my fears the way that woman in that hospital bed has over the years. I can’t comfort her. She can’t comfort me. And I am summarily uncomfortable in my own skin.