Shelle Edit: "This is a blog by a woman in her 50's who is finally on the crooked path to find who she truly is. Married at 19 and divorced at 53. I am going to unearth the artist, the cynic, the free spirit that has been long buried. Or die trying. I've left Bethlehem and I feel free... I've left the girl I was supposed to be and some day I'll be born. ~Paula Cole"--This is how she describes herself on her profile... this was my first time to her blog... it's warned as NSFW (Not Safe For Work) but I guess I didn't scroll down enough to understand why she has that warning. What I know of Nitebyrd is she is incredibly compassionate and kind. She also is passionate about things and how can I not love someone that has this quote at the end of every email, "I want to live my life in such a way that when my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh! Shit! She's awake!"
“I have breast cancer.”
My daughter said those words and my heart stopped.
My hope was that 2006 would be better than the previous year. During that year, my husband (now, ex-husband) left a job almost 20 years to start his own business. The business was pouring money out and dribbling money in. I was watching my retirement, my future, circle the drain. It had been a very difficult year. The decision my husband made was against my wishes. There was really no discussion because that’s how things always were. My unhappiness in the marriage increased in direct proportions to how quickly our (his?) money was disappearing. I prayed, begged, threatened, pleaded with “The Powers That Be” to make this New Year be better. They didn't listen.
My daughter said, “I have breast cancer.” In July of 2006, she was 28 years old. She had been married for a little over two years. Neither she nor her husband were working, they were “helping” at my husband’s business. One good thing was she had health insurance through that business. My daughter and son-in-law were living off money they’d made from a sale of their house and a small settlement they’d received from a lawsuit. My daughter and her husband were together 24/7 in a failing business with dwindling funds and now a life threatening illness. Their relationship was in trouble. To add to the drama of all this, I had decided in January of 2006 to cash in my small 401K and take a trip to Australia. I needed something to look forward to and wanted to use MY money for something that was going to give me a lifetime of good memories, not throw it into the money eating hole of my husband’s business. Selfish? Maybe, but it was something I needed to do for myself after 32 years of being a wife, mother, homemaker, office worker and person in charge of everything. My departure date was August 6, the same day my daughter was scheduled for surgery.
Once my heart started beating again, both her father and I broke down. We were totally useless for about 45 minutes weeping and swearing at God and nature in her kitchen. Once we’d pulled ourselves together, my daughter told us she would be having a lumpectomy with some lymph nodes removed to be on the safe side. Her tumor was fairly large but had been encapsulated in an antibody (pus) filled sac. Her MRI and PET scans showed a very clearly defined tumor. Her surgeon was very confident that her cancer had not spread and that the lumpectomy would get it all. Yes, this was heartening but I was still terrified for her. (There is no history of breast or prostate cancer on either side of the family. Apparently 85% of all breast cancers have no family history.) My daughter asked me not to go on my trip to Australia. I had to say no, that I still was going. I was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.
While I knew that my relationship with her father was beyond repair, I also knew that for my own well-being, I had to go. The stress of the last 15 months had taken their toll on me – mentally and physically. If I did not get some relief, I wouldn’t be good for anyone in the future. My daughter, my son, my son-in-law and yes, even my ex-husband would need the strength I'd show for years after her surgery. I spoke to my daughter, explaining why it was necessary for me to go. I would only be gone three weeks. She understood immediately. This was a great relief to me and surprisingly, her!
My daughter was facing the scariest thing in her life and she was going to do it without the “mommy” buffer. In the family, I was the one that made the decisions, meted out the punishment,kissed the boo-boos, fixed the unfixable, made the phone calls, paid the bills, dealt with the “dirty” decisions, etc. I could always “fix it” But she knew I couldn’t fix this. She realized that there wasn’t much I could do for her other than hold her hand and maybe cook and clean for her after the surgery. She also told me that since she was going to have chemotherapy and radiation, that she’d need me for that. My daughter was only 28 going through a horrible ordeal yet she had the insight and understanding to know why her mother needed to go half-way around the world for a bit. She made me very proud.
My daughter understood, no one else did. Let me tell you that I took a rash of shit from EVERYONE and anyone. However, I would not be dissuaded. At 6:00 AM on August 6, 2006 I, along with her husband, her father, her brother, her mother and father-in-law and her cousin, kissed her and hugged her as she went into surgery. We then all waited until the surgeon came to tell us that her lymph nodes were clear and the tumor had been removed. She was in recovery, goofy from drugs but damn happy for someone just out of surgery, as we kissed good-bye and I left for the airport.
Over the three weeks I was gone, I spoke to my daughter every other day. She was marveling at how her husband was helping her so much. He was changing her drains and keeping her clean. He was doing some cooking. He asked his mother to come and stay with them for a week, which she did. He went through a very difficult patch after I'd come home but the whole experience matured both he and my daughter. My daughter and her husband started planning for the future now that it seemed much more important to do so. She loved hearing about how amazing Australia was. I was home before I knew it.
Although, my leaving for a “vacation” at this very delicate time is still a sore point with my ex-husband and some others, it has never been with my daughter. She has never once said it was wrong for me to leave. I went with her to her chemo appointments, cried with her when she lost her hair, laughed when we went to buy her wigs and have walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure every year since her diagnosis. Those three weeks she spent with her husband allowed him to see her at her most vulnerable and I believe they both learned so much about each other that it was a good thing for me not to be there. My daughter has said that in a round-about way. So while it was selfish of me, it was necessary. Her diagnosis also made me realize that life is precious, it need to be enjoyed as do the people you love. I think that by her seeing that I was not just a mother but also a person, she gained valuable insight to herself and to her relationship with her husband. She enjoys her life much more now and so do I.
She has made me promise to stay around when she gets pregnant, though, and I definitely will.
P.S. She has also posted HERE.
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