just a mom figuring it out one day at a time

4 Days from Diagnosis to Death

My friend “Morgan” just lost her mom to breast cancer. She had received a call that her mom had gone to the ER with abdominal pain. In the ER her mom revealed, for the first time to anyone, that she had found a lump in her breast 12 years ago, and despite her sister dying from breast cancer, Morgan’s mom decided that she did not want to do anything about it. She had witnessed her sister fight the cancer, year after year with chemo and radiation just for the sake of her children. Morgan’s mom decided she did not want that for her kids. So she fought it silently. So quietly that just 4 days after that ER visit, she received her formal diagnosis and another 4 days after that, she died.

Some might ask, how could no one see this? How could no one know? When Morgan visited her mom just three weeks prior she noticed that she did not look as good as she had in the past. But, Morgan’s mom was active with all of the grandchildren and otherwise acted normally so it was brushed off. It was only when she was dying that things were revealed. Her mom knew her time was coming and had begun assembling and organizing all of the children’s and grandchildren’s pictures and art work. The summer vacation? When Morgan’s mom found out that Morgan was flying down with her kids, she arranged to have all the grandchildren together so that she could enjoy them all one last time and get a final picture. Morgan’s mom lived her life completely even up to the day before she went to the ER. She had worked the day before her ER visit and had recently painted her nails and styled her hair. It was almost as if she was going to continue to live her life normally until it was ultimately taken from her.

The result of all of this? Morgan says it was like a flash of lightening. Morgan is still in a state of shock, not only of the death but that her mother suffered through it with little more than Motrin. A Motrin and nothing else to combat a cancer that had ravaged her body, the main tumor weeping into her bedding and leaving permanent stains on the mattress. Hearing all of this, I just teared up. Not only for Morgan, but for her children and mostly for the amazing strength her mother had.

Some might question why she didn’t tell anyone. Or why didn’t she get help when she had really good health insurance. It was because she did not want to extend her children’s pain or have them worrying about her. It was her ultimate self-sacrifice and really her last duty as a “Mother.” Although I am amazed that she was able to do it, and I do question whether it was better or worse for her kids, in the end, it was her decision and it needed to be respected. When my Mother in-law chose to have a double mastectomy and refused any follow up treatment with her breast cancer, although we questioned it, in the end… we respected her decision to live and potentially die in whatever manner she wanted. With a history of breast cancer in my own family, I wonder if I am going to be faced with that decision and what I would do. An inherent “fighter” I would probably fight like my Grandmother did. But truly, I guess you never know until you are there. I am just counting my blessings that I am not and hope to never be.

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