Author Jodi Picoult speaks the God’s honest truth here. Another reason I’m writing 30 minutes a day for the 31 days of May. The American Cancer Society issued a challenge to do this very thing I’m doing every day, so I figured to honor Mom, who’s undergoing cancer treatment, and all the others of our friends and family who have been diagnosed and treated for this horrible disease.
Cancer is a chameleon. It invades us without warning sometimes. Sometimes we have the habits that help it grow and take hold; habits like an all red-meat diet, a history of smoking (yes, you can get it from smoking weed, too. Don’t let anyone tell you differently), or simply by having breast tissue that is dense and hard to palpate. Not all the contributing factors are our fault necessarily; you can’t help how breast tissue is, and you can stop smoking, or never start, and make sure you get a colonoscopy, especially if people in your family have been diagnosed with colon/rectal/anal cancer. It could save your life.
The first person I was close to who died from lung cancer was my friend Angie. I met her working at ConAgra. I Recently divorced and newly employed, we met at the copier one day. We started going to lunch, shopping at our noon hour, and met outside work occasionally. She was a single mom who raised her kids, and she was a lot of help as I adjusted to this new life. She was maybe 5 – 6 years older than I, but she was like having a big sister.
She and her boyfriend were in a car accident, and she had considerable pain in her ribs. They blamed it on the accident until an x-ray confirmed it was not. She had a gigantic mass around her ribs; it was between ribs and in chest cavity. It was 1988, the worst year of my life to date. I don’t remember if she had surgery or not; all I remember is I visited her in the hospital and at home as much as I could.
Earlier that year, I was very ill with walking pneumonia. Home from work, in bed. That hardly ever happened. I also was unhappy in the dating relationship I was in for a couple of years. He was difficult to handle, and I saw how demanding he was. My grandma had a stroke, my mom became her caretaker, and was in a home.
Angie died early in the summer, late May. Her daughter’s wedding was the day after her mother’s funeral. That was so hard. I had altered and mended her mother of the bride’s dress. I had just delivered it to her home before she went back into the hospital and never returned home. So very sad.
The grief, for me at 37 years old, was all-consuming. I didn’t know what to do. Another friend of Angie’s, Joyce, worked in the Benefits Department. I worked with her since I was in HR, and also saw her socially with Angie. Joyce was such a guardian angel for me; in my loss, in my life as a single mom, and as a student, finishing her degree. We graduated from Bellevue University in January, 1996; her with her Masters, mine with BS. Good, good friend.
I had scheduled a camping trip with said boyfriend, my kids, and myself to the Black Hills. It was the week after the funeral. I had such fun with my kids; the ex, not so much. He whined the entire time. Not an outdoorsy type. I was distant because of my recent loss. He was angry I wasn’t over it yet, at two weeks.
After returning home, I broke up with him. I knew if he thought I should be over it by two weeks, he wouldn’t get it. No way, I couldn’t commit to someone who was clueless about this subject. I needed time. He wanted it at the speed of light. Impossible, as far as I was concerned.
Bad break-up, Grandma had stroke, and died in September. A week later, my children’s paternal grandfather died. Funeral, dealing with the ex-husband, who was divorcing his second wife. It never ends, does it?
This is more than enough today. I will finish this story tomorrow, 1988, The Worst Year of My Life (so far). Take care until tomorrow.