Monday, September 15, 2014

The Big "C" Hop

Michael De Gesu is hosting this hop as a benefit for Melissa Bradley to help her with her huge medical costs as she battles cancer. Michael and Melissa are putting together these posts into an anthology. (And yes, they have permission to use this post)

For this anthology post on Sept 15 a story about cancer. We are trying for comical, uplifting, inspirational... Let's give cancer a big kick in the pants!

This post is dedicated to Mary, and for all those who fight the good fight for life.

Living Life Fully

Twenty years ago, I sat at a round, brown table in a kitchen filled with sunshine. My boyfriend’s mother, Mary, had a tea kettle coming to a boil on the stove. She had her back to me while she prepared two steaming mugs. I was rattling on about my day at work, waiting for my boyfriend to go out with me, and then, I asked her how her day had been.

“I’m dying. How do you think it’s been?” she snapped, as she turned to me with two tea mugs. Her jaw was tight, her eyes glistening.

I felt my stomach drop to the floor. I wanted to get up and hug her, but I couldn’t seem to move.

Mary sat across from me. “It isn’t just breast cancer again after years of remission. I had that second mastectomy, but it didn’t stop the cancer. It’s lymphoma. And they say they can’t treat it. I might only have a year to live.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, and the words felt too empty, too missing of any depth or comfort.

She pulled the tea bag out of her cup so she could use it for a second serving, setting it onto a small tea bag holder. “I haven’t told anyone yet. You can’t tell my children. They all have too much stress already.”

“But . . .” I couldn’t imagine why she had told me. Why was I the confidant in the matter of her possible death?

I think it may have been just that I was there at that moment when she couldn’t hold onto it any longer. We argued about the "secret," and she won . . . mostly.

A few weeks later, I told my boyfriend because I couldn’t hide it from him. It hurt too much.

Eventually, Mary told each of her children separately, and the burning pressure of that secret was gone.
 
 

Mary lived each day and each week like it might be her last. She took all of her children, including her son’s fiancé (me) to Broadway musicals in Seattle; she played tennis , basketball and golf, she went running and skiing; she watched as many tennis tournaments as she could find on various sports channels; and she re-read her favorite books.

One summer afternoon, another bright day filled with sunshine, we went to the nearest basketball court. My fiancé’s mom and dad, my fiancé’s niece, my fiancé, and I played three-on-three.
 
Mid-dash down the court, Mary paused and scooped up something from the ground, stuffed it into her bra, took the ball from her husband who was as surprised as the rest of us, and made a perfect bank shot. She looked around and laughed. “No reason to stop playing just because my falsies fall out,” she told us brightly, while patting her chest.
 
We all chuckled, slightly embarrassed, and kept playing.



Fifteen years later, our niece told that story at my in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary. She talked about how cool her grandma is, and how it is good to know that someone could have such an awesome attitude after two full mastectomies, chemotherapy, radiation, and several hospital stays.

Just a week ago, I called my mother-in-law on her 80th birthday. She told me, “I’ve had the best birthday: breakfast in bed, family members calling me all day, a good book, and a tennis tournament to watch with new blood in the finals.”

It turned out that the doctors had misdiagnosed her lymphoma. It was the treatable kind. Between these little scenes, Mary had some tough days and hospital stays, times of great doubt and great faith, and she continues to show us how to fight any illness and how to live life fully.

-Tyrean Martinson
 
 





23 comments:

Nick Wilford said...

Wow, what a woman. She just kept going and kept fighting and didn't let anything stop her. So glad it is treatable. This is a fantastic contribution!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

What an inspirational story, Tyrean! Thanks for sharing it.

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Elizabeth Hein said...

Thank you, Tyrean. Your mother-in-law sounds like quite a lady with a great attitude toward life. I'm sure you were a godsend to her that day she confided in you.
Thank you also for highlighting that some people do survive their cancers. As a 12 year Lymphoma survivor, I can attest there are quite a few of us out here. We are changed, a little battered, but still plugging along.
Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a wonderful ending! Proof we shouldn't give up no matter what the doctors say. They could be wrong - and God is in control.

Maurice Mitchell said...

What a powerful story Tyrean. Let's give cancer a big kick in the pants!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Yes, doctors can misdiagnose. Because ultimately its God who has the controls. Mary sounds like a gutsy, strong woman who kept her spirits high inspite of her illness.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Thanks for sharing, Tyrean... this is a great story! The doctor's misdiagnosed my mom too... only they thought she had a hernia... it turned out to be cancer.... Sometimes. like for you mom in law, the diagnosis is better! Such a great attitude....

We should all be that feisty if we ever get the BIC C news... I pray everyday they we don't and a full cure for this dreaded disease is in the very near future. I hope to see it in my lifetime!

Chrys Fey said...

This was a powerful piece! The end had me cheering. It's true that doctors can misdiagnose patients. Second opinions are always good. Thanks for sharing this story, Tyrean!

joss said...

What an inspirational story and what an amazing blog hop. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

Nicki Elson said...

80! That's the best surprise ending ever. The falsies story is great. I remember my grandma passing her new satinny falsy around the dinner table one night---she was so pleased with it!

E.J. Wesley said...

Amazing woman! Really personifies my favorite quote from Lord of the Rings, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” She clearly decided to go on living until she didn't. :)

Michelle Wallace said...

I loved your story - uplifting and inspirational, a compelling testament to the strength of the human spirit.
80 years old? Your mother-in-law is amazing. God bless her!

quietspirit said...

Tyrean: This a beautiful story. I was there for my stepmother's second round of breast cancer. I look back fondly on that summer. She couldn't have the surgery. They treated her with radiation. I am thankful that I can say that the cancer didn't take her. Another of her conditions claimed her life. We miss her.

Melissa Bradley said...

A truly amazing and inspiring woman! Thank you for sharing her story and participating. Huge hugs!!

Theresa Milstein said...

What a nice ending!

Natalie Aguirre said...

So glad it was diagnosed wrong. That must have been hard trying to keep that secret.

My sister lived life like your mother-in-law until she died after a 15 year battle with breast cancer, most of the years on chemo. She is a true inspiration too.

Laurel Garver said...

Powerful story! I imagine you must feel a special bond with your MIL, hearing her difficult news before her own kids. You were clearly meant to be family.

Christine Rains said...

What a wonderful and inspiring story!

cleemckenzie said...

Thank goodness it was mis-diagnosed. But I can't imagine how Mary must have felt. Great story and the falsies. Attitude is everything.

farawayeyes said...

What a story!

How important it is to keep fighting and living now matter what the diagnosis. At the end of the day, each one of us is a 'terminal case'. Life is meant to be lived - every single minute you have. It's strange to me that it often takes something as horrifying as cance,r to show us that path.

L.G. Smith said...

Wow. So many great stories for this cause. Glad you participated!

mshatch said...

I'm so glad Mary is still with you.

S.K. Anthony said...

Aww great ending! Very inspiring :)

S.K. Anthony