So, the news of a survivor I follow on Twitter has come up. She has cancer again, this time in her lungs. One of the most common things I hear from survivors is that they are very much afraid of reoccurrence.
Rightly so! After going thru a battle of such proportions the last thing we want is to go thru it again! It’s really difficult to hear news like this. My mother got the all clear 5 years after her mastectomy and at 5 1/2 years they diagnosed her with cancer in her bones and liver and gave her 8 months.
Mom was very much denying it all. She couldn’t understand how they cleared her only 6 months before. It was really shitty news and she could not digest it at all. Her response was very vague, she told us nothing until my brother put things together and asked her if he could join her on her visit to the doctor. The news was devastating. For two months mom had carried on as though she had been told she had the flu.
My brother called me and told me the news, by then it was down to 6 months. She was very much in decline. I took time away from work and went to see her. It was very apparent from the yellowing of her once tan skin that there were liver problems. She was smiling and convinced she could beat this. It was apparent that she was trying to keep us from seeing the dragon within that was pulling her energy and convincing her that she was not going to get thru this.
My mother shared with me that she believed if you speak of dying or of a disease killing you then it would come real. She was avoiding giving it energy at all cost! The problem was, she was also festering with doubt in her head and that can be even more damning to our body as well. Mom always put on a big front, an appearance that she was very together and her life was up to snuff. All ‘appearances’ of course. She was very insecure and had a lot of struggle with alcohol. I understood it because of all the things she told me throughout our journey together as mother and daughter and the work we did together on her first occurrence of cancer. We did so much work on how she connected the loss of her breast with losing her femininity. There was such a strong connection that we went deeper into things that she never really expressed before.
My mother was adopted and she longed to find her real patents. It’s not that she disliked her adoptive parents, she just felt a disconnect. It’s a long story but things weren’t as functional as she had wished for as a young girl. Mom was keen to find her mother and when the state of Texas opened up records for her to be able to do that, she did. My mom found her mother and boy did you ever know they were related! Wow! Martha Jo was so much a ringer for my mom! A lovely lady but….she was not willing to open her life up to my mom. She had kept a secret for 58 years and was not prepared to divulge to her other daughter that there was another child. This was massively difficult for my mother. She had a sister and her excitement to meet her got shot down in flames by her mothers desire to keep the secret. It was devastating for her and the drinking progressively got worse.
As a generation removed I believe I had more of an understanding and respect for my grandmothers position but I also understood the pain my mom was going thru. I think this is what aided in her secondary cancer. She focused on the negative and really had a deep seeded passion to get into the lives of her new found family. She wanted to belong but it wasn’t allowed and that made her issues with self-esteem come up even more.
So when she was given the diagnosis of the cancer metasticizing in her body, she was hiding the reality of her diagnosis and, in turn, hiding the inner demons that she put to sleep 5 1/2 years before. The demons that told her she was not loved, cast aside and that her own mother had no place for her. A devastating blow to anyone.
I believe that my mother came to terms with all if this before she died 7 months after diagnosis. She was tired of fighting and her struggle internally and externally was worn out but she battled that demon in the end and gave it love, wrapped her arms around it and gave it the love that she didn’t feel. She knew that moving on meant she was to release the ties of this life from her. She was starting to live again even up to the weeks before she died.
When I say that she started to live again, I mean it in the way that she began to remember the work we had done together in connecting with the focus, and her ability to be able to focus on what she really wanted us to know before she passed on. She and I spoke of a holiday that she insisted I take if I got any money from her estate, she was convinced she had nothing. (She actually ended up giving me the holiday with what she left behind without knowing it.) She spoke to my son with hopes of giving him little morsels he could take away and remember her by. She really just gave herself to all of us in order to connect with what was in her power. We all came away from this experience with a new outlook on life. An empowering time for us all.
I stayed with her while she was still aware, I sang to her, read to her and talked to her. I told her that she was going to be fine. We locked eyes and with no words we were able to say ‘I’m sorry for any and all pain that occurred between us’ this was massive for us! We had cleared the path for her to move on. She was in a medically induced coma for a few days but it wasn’t until after I said to her that our older brother was not coming and gave her permission to go, that she passed. It was that night but she went peacefully.
I’m not sure how this story will affect people reading it but if I can give any message from it, it would be to focus on the positive. Remember it’s what you focus on that you get. My focus was on my mother getting all that she wanted in the last weeks of her life. My mothers focus was to give us all the details and information that she could share to enable us to feel she completely served us in her maternal way. We were able to laugh and cry and experience each other on a completely different level. This focus became my calling.