My mother has been rendered speechless once in her life that she will admit to- when she met the Pope. Other than that, she will pretty much talk. People she doesn't like get a different tone of voice and clipped words, and even some rueful laughs. She will talk to strangers about anything She will talk to animals to tell them to get lost. She will talk to her children's friends about what they don't tell their own parents.
When she came home from her diagnosis and immediate removal of the cancer and nodes, she was silent. That scared me more than the diagnosis.
My mother finally spoke to tell me to not tell the boys-my 4 brothers and an Elon- and I looked at her and to her face(!!) told her no. I would be calling them. I took the receiver off the wall phone and pulled it into the mud room. As I closed the door she slowly turned and went upstairs, batting the twisted phone cord out of her way. I think that was my first openly defiant move towards my mother ever (the sneaky defiances don't count).
I was 20. I grew up at that moment.
You could hear it. It was so abrupt it had a sound, a color, a smell, a feel, and it left a mark.
My mother does not like to be referred to as a survivor.
She was looking out of her apartment window 17 years later with me as the sun was just beginning to rise over the Charlestown Navy Yard. She was waiting to take me to the starting line for the Avon 2 day walk for breast cancer. She wasn't saying much and I knew it was because she was feeling things. She finally said that it was complete incompetence that killed her mother. Breast cancer that the doctors did not understand how to handle. It finally made it's way to her brain.
She didn't talk about Grangy's dying often, and I listened quietly. We didn't say much about it because being the same person, my mom and I, we both hate being choked up. We want to be tough. In the air was her feeling off loss and her feeling of pride. "It is so good of you to do this" she said. "I never did stuff like this."
My mother always donates the most to me in the fight to end breast cancer. I don't think she sees it as her donating to the fight against the cancer itself. She donates to me, her child, because she supports me most of all. She asked me why I was so involved. Many people asked me that over the years. There is so much that swirls in my chest and puts an ache in my throat, but the spoken reason is easy.
I lost a grandmother early. I fight that.
My mother was hurt by it. I want to destroy anything that hurts my mother.
And then I had a daughter.
And then I had another.
The disease ends here. Before it has any chance to reach my children.
It is October. Not the only month in which you should feel your boobies....but the one in which you may remember it the most. You will be surrounded by pink. You will be boobsmacked by all the ribbons. All year long you will be surrounded by fundraising. I used to take a full year to raise all the money I needed in order to join a walk-a-thon for breast cancer. Now what I do is this: I make a meal when needed. I attend an event when I have the time. I donate money to the cause. I volunteer my time when asked and I have it to give.
And I promote Pink Revolution.
I choose Pink because it is local. It has no payroll. It supports Umass Cancer Center in Worcester. It supports local women in need of help while battling breast cancer. The money reaches an area where change is happening.
And while we are at it, the Co-Founder of Pink Revolution also helps run the Pancreatic Cancer Alliance. Having just lost my sister-in-law to pancreatic cancer, I want to share this link, too
Cancer can suck it.
Cancer can suck it.