Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Mother's Daughter

I am my mother's daughter,
I am not my mother.
She gave me eyes of chocolate and her full mouth,
She gave me insight and a silver tipped tongue.

As I grew she taught me kindness and loyalty.

I almost lost my mother,
It was 17 years ago.
She needed me,
She told me to go.

I think she resented me.

The month of October represents so many things. I have several friends who's birthdays are in October (gotta love the Libras and Scorpios!), Halloween is at the end of the month, my dad's birthday is on the 30th, my mom's on the 31st, and of course it is Breast Cancer awareness month. That last one, it's a hard one.

How many people do you know that have been affected by breast cancer? My first experience with is was when I was 17 years old. It was the Spring semester of my senior year of high school. My mom had gone in for her annual appointment, not that I knew...we didn't talk about those kinds of things. But apparently she went in for a follow up mammogram and they discovered that the lump that they (the Dr's) were watching had grown. A biopsy confirmed that it was malignant. I didn't understand, not really, again, we didn't talk about these private matters. All I knew is that my mom had stage 3 breast cancer and she was going to have a radical mastectomy.

I went with my mom to the Dr at the appointment in which they discussed her surgery. The doctor gave her the details and at the end she said, "Ok." The doctor looked at her and said, "Are you okay with everything? Do you have any questions?" My mom said, "No. All good." The doctor glanced over at me and said, "We could talk without her in the room." My mom said, "No need. I'm fine." And he said, "Really...are you okay?" My mom looked at him hard, square in the face and said, "Look, if it has to go, it has to go. It's simple." He said, "What about reconstructive surgery?" My mom said, "What about it? If it wasn't meant to be there then take it off."

This conversation shaped me, it deeply affected me and who I became. Especially in the years following the surgery.

My mom had her surgery right before I went to school. My grandmother came out, only the second time since we had moved there...14 years ago. I did what I could, but again, I really didn't understand everything that was going on. I do remember coming home and seeing my dad with the encyclopedia, sobbing. He had looked up cancer, the days before the internet....where all you could read was in books. He had the book clutched to his chest and tears were running down his face. I'd only see my dad shed tears once before, when his father died. My mom was "fine", she worked up until her surgery. She wasn't concerned. We were all scared, but we didn't talk about it. My older brother was in the army and overseas and my younger brother was only 9.

I went away to college, I left home, when my mom needed me the most, but I didn't even know it. I spent the summer before college in upstate New York (that is it's OWN story) not really thinking about real life. I didn't think about my mom going through chemo and radiation. And after I got home I packed up my stuff, got on a plane and went to Arizona to attend ASU. My mom was still going through treatments, she didn't talk about it.

My mom was angry with me. Angry that I left. Angry that I couldn't read her mind and know that she needed me. Angry that I left her home with the boys who were helpless. What a selfish child I was. I didn't even realize this until years later. How terrible.

My mom made it through her experience. She still reminds me that it was little bro that was there for her...him being 10...I'm sure he lent a lot of support...but that's just bitterness. She still reminds me that I was absent. Little digs here and there. And she can do that, because she survived. She lived. And for that I am grateful.

When I was in my late 20s I lost a co-worker, a good friend, to breast cancer. She had it once every five years until it finally metastasized into the rest of her body and took her in her mid-40s.

Legs' mom is a survivor of breast cancer. She fought a long and hard battle, and thank God...she is still with us...ornery as ever.

I just read about Slick's mom - read his story under Slicksumbich to the right over there...yep, click on it, read it, cry just like I did.

So October is here. I relive my mom's cancer like it was yesterday, not quite finding peace with it yet. I'm a good patient, I get checked every year. I make my way to the smash-o-gram and have only had a scare once. I hope all of you do too, get checked that is...I know it's a pain (both in the ass and your breasts), but please do it. Five minutes of pain can be the difference between losing nothing, losing a breast or losing you life. It sounds so simple doesn't it?

Sorry, didn't mean to get preachy and serious on y'all.

Updates: The job is going ok, I'm playing the good "kiss ass" and getting on the good side of all of my sales people. I am still happy just to have a job...and a paycheck. I'll give you some good stories about all of my sales people, I have a couple already and I've only been doing the job for 2 weeks. Huh. Trainer is good, not sleeping at night, but as far as 'we' go, he's good. I need to take a picture of the ring for it on here...

Just chillin' watching college football, drinking a bevo, my last Pyramid Apricot...damn. I only had one to begin with, probably good though. I'll post more tomorrow. Later gators.

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