I’ve seen, from the front lines, the horrible battle being fought to stay alive while every cell in a loved one’s body is destroyed by medicine and illness. We, my sister and brothers, watched everyday for a year while my mother, a strong, independent woman, faded into a strong and independent woman stuck in a thin, withering, ravaged body. We took the fight to the doctors treating her because we couldn’t stand against the truth. In one year she died.
Seven years later, at age thirty five, it was my turn. Only I didn’t know it. I felt fine. Normal. I had the energy to take care of my three little ones, ages three and a half years, six years and eight years old. Busy is an understatement. But I still felt the tug, to poke the need to talk to my mother. Not like the usual urges caused by extreme feeling of loss. This was different. I’m going to try to describe it the best as i can.
Not often and usually during a lull in the craziness, I heard my name as if whispered from far away. I became more anxious each time I heard it. Felt it. I’d always dreamed of my mother but even they were different. Over a period of months the pokes, taps and whispers grew more urgent. I believed in mediums, people who could speak to those in the other realm, but never went to one. Ever. Never had the compulsion. I called my sister and got the number to Jeffery Wands a well-known Medium on Long Island.
I didn’t know what to expect.
His office was small but comfortable and he was waiting for me when I showed up. I went right in. He looked at me with no expression on his face. The first thing he said is “The ring.” Caught me completely off guard. My first thought ran immediately to The Lord of the Rings. Then he said, “It’s been sitting there too long. And it hit me. (Informational tangent) After my mother passed, I took some of her jewelry to get fixed and gave them to my family. I kept a small simple gold band ring with a tiny stone. I wore it for a long time. It broke two times. The third time it broke, I left it on my nightstand planning on getting it fixed again. When I went to Jeffery Wands, the ring had been sitting on my nightstand for over a year.
I cried. My mother had showed up. Immediately after that, he said, “Your mother wants you to go to the doctor and get checked out. Something about female issues.” He motioned with his hands, in circles over his chest and abdomen. She said I should do it as soon as possible. The first twinge of fear needled its way into my stomach. Jeffery Wands continued with, “No matter what you will go through, you will be okay. Just do what you are told to do. You will raise your kids.”
I wasn’t soothed. He then went on about how mother was astonished about my lack of organization skills. The session ended and as soon as I got home, I called my doctor and he gave me a referral for my very first mammogram. I failed epically. I wasn’t allowed to leave the radiologist before being informed that I needed to see a specialist. I made the appointment that day.
The breast surgeon examined me and was astonished that I had no symptoms, no lumps nothing to indicate I had breast cancer. But the x-ray on the wall spoke volumes against what he could see and feel. Next step was a fine needle aspiration biopsy which the doctor ordered for the very next morning.
To say it was painful would be a gross understatement. I lay face down on a table, with my breasts in holes, while a machine shot needles into my right breast ripping tiny pieces of flesh from inside. The pain was so great, they had to stop the test early, but there was more than enough evidence that my life was indeed in danger.
I hated my body. It had betrayed me. My mind ceased to function. The world whipped around me, twisting my perception so tight that I didn’t know anything. And the news just kept getting worse. My right breast was fully invaded by cancer. I had tumors and it worked its way into my chest muscle and lymph nodes. By the time the doctor finished telling me my diagnosis I felt like I had gone one round with a boxer the size of a truck and I wished she’d finished the job.
I cried with my sister, tried to stay strong for my brothers and began planning my counter attack. I have a big family and some cousins are as close as siblings. The first part of my strategy was to remove the offending flesh and the other just for insurance. Once I recovered from that seven hour surgery, I prepared for phase two. One cousin helped me prepare for chemotherapy by shaving my head and my search for a wig (I barely wore it. I found bandanas to be more comfortable).My sister dragged me out of bed and out for walks recommitting my soul for life. For the next four months, every two weeks I was hooked up to a machine that poisoned every cell in my body, murdering all quickly dividing cells both healthy and malignant. The last phase: Radiation. Twenty eight days in a row. To say the least, hell hath rolled over me and I got up and dusted the ashes off.
Ten years later, I’m writing these memories with a flicker of re-living.
Thank you mommy for my life. For the gift to raise my children. I love you and miss you! Until we meet again.