Cancer and Relationships

June 26, 2017

When receiving a cancer diagnosis, more often than not, all relationships are impacted.

When a cancer diagnosis is given, it not only impacts the person receiving the news, but other family members as well. My illness touched everyone I knew. This included friends, neighbors, co-workers, casual acquaintances. People I had never imagined to be supportive come out of the woodwork to be there for me. Sadly, I also discovered there were others, who could not or would not show up. It was as if I had a plague of some sort and they feared they could catch it. Or, they didn’t know what to say or do, so …they simply said or did nothing.

The relationship that surprised me the most was the one I had with my mom. Although 3,000 miles apart, she came into my world in a way I never thought she could. To this day, 10 years later, we are closely connected. My poem “The Visit” speaks to our journey.

Hopefully, others who walk this walk will have their loved ones right by their side.

The Visit

decided to fly cross country to visit my mother

loved ones and therapist were not happy

akin to strolling into a battlefield

unarmed.

i went anyway

turbulent flight matched my agitation

she prepared a lovely breakfast

a seemingly “normal” occurrence, but not so much for her

we talked

i gently confronted her — asked if she had any idea how

the years of harsh treatment left me feeling less than;

how always being in her way left me feeling invisible

she said she did

and she was so sorry.

rather than make excuses or

tell me about how hard her own life was,

or going off in some rage,

she simply listened.

i looked in her eyes —

eyes that had shot darts

now radiated warmth

I held my breath

for the next few days, we shared this new place…

less tension and more connecting

a different visit for us both.

saying good-bye, we lingered longer as we hugged

unsure of our future

told her I had an appointment

the day after I got home

to check on this tiny lump I found

more like a pebble than a lump

nothing to be concerned about.

she told me to keep her posted

that lump,

more like a pebble than a lump

was more like aggressive cancer

attacking mind and body

a mind and body that

no longer felt like my own

i’m scared

i need you now

a caring mom

stepped in

at the age of 80

in a barely audible

whisper

a voice that resembled my own

spoke —

I love you, mom


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