I’ve been thinking about my Mom a lot.
She was a beautiful woman with a big beaming smile. She was an optimist and a devout Catholic. She was a creative and involved mother. We were incredibly lucky in our parents: hard-working Dutch immigrants who parented us well….with discipline and lots of love.
For a few years, before she was sick, she kept a journal:
January 4, Monday, 1965
Seems so nice to have a completely empty book to write in. I wonder what this year will bring us, fulfillment of our plans, more happiness in our family? Maybe I should say continued happiness for we have a fine, happy family.
Our mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 36. At that time her four children were aged 9-15.
Diagnostics weren’t as developed in those days so her cancer would have already been invasive. Her lymph system was already involved. Her treatment was grueling. They didn’t have the anti-nausea drugs so she felt ill most days when she was receiving chemotherapy. Her immune system was completely overwhelmed and she was sometimes disappointed to be turned back from treatment because her white cell count was so low. She was a resilient woman and she fought hard. But eventually she had cancer in her lungs and in her liver. She died at age 39.
I feel so sad for what she had to go through.
I feel fortunate to know that my story will be different. Medicine has come such a long way and I have no doubts about the success of my treatment. None. I am lucky.
By coincidence my surgery date of June 8th is the same week of the anniversary of her death, June 10, 1973. I’ll be imagining her at my side.