Monday, December 23, 2013

My Mom Is An Inspiration ~ Laughter, A Positive Attitude, Faith & Breast Cancer

My Mom Is An Inspiration ~ Laughter, A Positive Attitude, Faith & Breast Cancer

Thursday, December 12th around 9:00pm my siblings and I received an email from our mother advising that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a lumpectomy on Friday, December 20th.  She expressed no concern and fully expected to have the surgery and be prepared to attend church on Saturday evening.

Knowing that my parents would try to dissuade me from traveling from Virginia to north central Indiana for the surgery, I booked my flight and reserved a rental car before calling her to let her know I’d be arriving the night before her surgery.

Contrary to all of my expectations, my parents, my sister and I had a weekend filled with joy, laughter, love and positivity.  After I arrived, we sat around chatting and recalling inside jokes that those who hadn’t grown up in that house would understand. I’d picked up a nice bottle of Virginia wine at the Charlottesville airport before boarding my flight, popped the cork and sipped a couple of glasses of nice Cabernet Franc while mom enjoyed her everyday Italian table wine. We stayed up until nearly midnight. Mom insisted she wasn’t concerned.

Friday morning my sister and I followed our parents to Logansport Memorial Hospital and reconvened in the ambulatory care unit. Since my mom has been a long time volunteer at the hospital gift shop, she was filled with good wishes and received the prayers of her many friends. To pass the time we took silly photographs posing with mom in her blue shower cap and hospital gown. She then encouraged us to shop in the gift shop so she would have fewer items to inventory the following Friday! To cheer her up, my sister and I purchased a stuffed bear and doggy at the shop.

The surgery went well and mom was discharged and home by 5:00pm; she ate some soup, had some ice cream and asked dad to peel an orange for her. And, true to form and as predicted, mom was up drinking coffee the next morning. She laughingly said she hadn’t slept well, but had come us with names for her new stuffed animal companions: Brett and Kanker! I come by my skewed sense of humor naturally.

Dad made jokes about encouraging our husbands to regularly examine our breasts for lumps. Mom called all of her friends to give them a report on her surgery. Mom showed me her incision as she dressed for church. The surgeon did a nice job. She said she’s had no pain. She eschewed taking pain medication so she could have wine with dinner. We attended mass Saturday evening and then went out to dinner for chili over spaghetti. My mom is 83 and my parents have been married for 58 ½ years. They are inspiring!

Mom has held steadfast in her belief that she will be fine, that the surgery would not get her down, that worry is non-productive, and that her faith and the support of my dad, her family and her friends would see her through. She won’t receive the results of the pathology reports until after Christmas but her surgeon is optimistic the surgery removed all of the cancer.

When I left my childhood home for the airport yesterday morning, I hugged both of my parents and was filled with gratitude for what turned out to be a delightfully wonderful weekend. We laughed, shared joy and love, and thanks to Mom’s amazing approach to life, there was no fear or anxiety about the diagnosis or surgery. My mother’s grace during challenging times astounds me. I only hope that I’ve inherited the capacity to exhibit just a little of that.

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