Saturday, December 14, 2013

#44 - 46 Random Posts to Celebrate 46 Years of Living


There really isn't any nice way to say it and there really isn't any point in trying to sugar coat it. Chances are almost 100% that each of us has been/is/will be touched by cancer at some point in our lives. If not ourselves, then someone we are related to, go to school with, work with, socialize with will be affected by cancer in some way shape or form. I have known cancer survivors and had distant acquaintances who have had cancer. I am fortunate because I am 45 years old and for the first time in my life I am experiencing someone very close to me fighting cancer. sucks.

Several weeks ago my mother-in-(out?)-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. Just how do you label a former-in-law? She is still my girls' grandmother and someone I have loved for more than 25 years. I know I am extremely fortunate that she and the girls' grandpa were willing and insistent on keeping a relationship with me after her son and I divorced. It is not that way in many families, but Grandma G and Grandpa Ray chose not to take sides and it has been a huge blessing for both me and my girls. They love their grandparents and being divorced hurts enough relationships without taking away ones that your kids truly need and cherish.

I remember getting the call confirming that Grandma G indeed had lung cancer. I sat at my desk at work in shock and cried. It wasn't fair. It was scary. It made me mad and sad all at the same time. I was/am heartbroken for my girls....and I was/am heart-broken for myself. I love Grandma G. She welcomed me openly from the very beginning of my relationship with her son and never stopped. She is not young - but then again she is only 74 years old. She still has so much to look forward to. And we are not ready to let her go. Oh, dear Lord, are we ever really ready to let them go?

To her credit she wants to fight this as best she can.We are all in Wyoming and the whole dang state practically is rural. She lives an hour away from Cheyenne (we can just qualify to be considered a "real city") and because she is stubborn and wants to stay in her home where she is most comfortable she chooses to come to town 5 days a week for radiation treatment and once a week those trips also include chemo.

As fate would have it her daughter came to live with them about a year ago. My dear Sister (yep, still my sis - praise God divorce doesn't take ALL beloved relationships away!!) has shouldered the largest part of the burden of helping to care for her mother during this time. As deep as my worry and fear for Grandma G is I can only imagine what it is like for Rae. This is her MOTHER who is going through this fight. I think God knew that Grandma G was going to need a strong advocate and Rae was just the perfect person for the job. Rae has been there from the beginning going through all the challenges a care-giver faces from wading through treatment options and coordinating doctor visits and getting to know the oxygen guy by name. She also gets the privilege/challenge of discussing/arguing/cajoling with her mother about all the choices to be made and how much she should eat and whether she should wear a face mask to protect from risk of infection. If I haven't said it, Rae, I love you and I admire your strength during this time. It isn't easy and I know all of your steps haven't been graceful....but you are in the trenches and I, for one, am grateful for all you do.

Like so many of us who have loved ones fighting cancer...I feel helpless and a little worthless. There really isn't much I can do....accept be there. I try to go visit Grandma G every time she comes down for chemo. It was a bit intimidating the first time I stepped onto the cancer wing of the hospital and asked for Grandma G's room. I was shown an outpatient chemo room with three chairs each filled with someone hooked up to an IV drip. Different sounds filled the air - whirs and clicks and beeps chiming as each person received his or her treatment. It was very quiet otherwise. I found Grandma G in one chair and her smile reassured me I was in the right place. We don't do much. Just chat. I always give her a hug...she seems so frail now. And I hold her hand sometimes. When she gets tired I let her rest. It is the least I can do. All too soon life tugs me back out into the world to go pick up kids from school. Each time as I leave I am swept with feelings of fear and anger, but then I try to remember what Grandma G told me. She wants us all to stay positive and pray for the best outcome. She is determined to beat this...and who is to say she won't?

The last time I sat with her she apologized ahead of time that she won't be able to do as much as she usually does for the holidays. My heart breaks for her, but I smile and reassure her that we all understand and it will be enough to just be together. The girls and I will try to go help them decorate a bit for Christmas since she doesn't have the energy. Why is that we have to have these kinds of kicks in the butt to make us realize how much we should cherish each and every moment with those we love? We are, after all, only an hour away.

For Grandma G's sake I am going to keep those positive thoughts and prayers for healing going. For my sake and my girls' sake we are going to make the most of the time we have now. It is truly the best thing we can do for Grandma G and for each other.


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