Living Through My Mother's Cancer Scare


There's only one thing better than hearing you don't have cancer.

My mom was having breast pain in her right breast (where my two cancers were) and went to her general practitioner about it. The GP scheduled a mammogram.

The procedure was scheduled for a Monday so my family had the weekend to wait out and worry about the issue; what if Mom had cancer? Mom, who was 88-years-young. Mom, who still drove. Mom, who loved playing cards on Tuesdays and Fridays. Mom, who took her 89-year-old friend to the store every week. Mom, who could be counted on to make all of us birthday dinners and who still cooked for us on holidays.

Mom couldn't have cancer.

"Well, if you've got it," I said on Saturday before the mammogram, "you have it cut out. Don't have chemo and radiation." I was biased. I knew how much these procedures took out of a person, namely me.

"I'm too old for surgery," my mom protested.

"You're in excellent shape. You don't take any meds for any physical or mental condition. They could perform the surgery."

"Let's just wait and see," she said. "I probably don't even have cancer."

My psychologist also felt I was jumping the gun. "Don't worry about it until you have to," she recommended.

Monday arrived. I had to teach that day, and it was a day I had to introduce a new assignment. I couldn't miss class. It was decided that my brother Mike, who wasn't working during the day, would take Mom to her appointment, which was scheduled for 10:45 AM. The doctor had warned her that if they found something suspicious, they would also do an ultrasound, so she was prepared to spend the whole day at the hospital.

I called Mom at 8:00 AM. She was ready to go and she said she wasn't nervous. She was a good liar.

I called Mom again around 10:15 AM. She and my brother were at the hospital, driving around looking for the entrance to the new cancer building. She had annoyance in her voice. "We'll call you when it's over," she said. "We've got to find the building."

At noon, I was sitting at my desk at school. I figured the mammogram was over, so I called a third time. This time, I called my brother Mike.

"Everything is fine," he said. "No cancer."

Relief spread all over me. I was glad she had been spared, glad she wouldn't have to go through what I had gone through.

"Praise the Lord!" I said.

"Praise the Lord!" Mike repeated.

I remembered what Mom had said to me on Sunday before the scan. "You are my role model," she'd told me. "If you can make it through this twice, I can do it, too."

I'm so glad I could be an inspiration for her, but I'm even happier, she's cancer free!

Hip, hip, hurray! Thank you, God!

Here's to Mom living to see 100-years-young. Her grandmother lived to be 102. Heck, let's lose the limits. The way she's going, she just might break a world record.

Yes, there's only one thing better than hearing you don't have cancer — hearing that your mother doesn't have it.

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