Memoir (First Draft)

Many of us wonder how we are going to die, but for my mother, Debbie, she knew exactly how she was leaving this Earth. In the beginning of 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.My mother was always a “Debbie Downer,” and always thought negative, so when she told me she felt lumps in her breast, I didn’t think much of it. Boy was a wrong.

“Sarah, Dr. Butler found two lymph nodes infected with cancer in my breast.” I remember it as if it was yesterday. My mother had to choose between getting just the lymph nodes out, or her whole left breast. We searched the web, thousands upon thousands of pages on Google about cancer. As we sat at the desktop computer together, the tears rolled down her precious face, looked at me and said, “I’m taking the whole thing out.” I never wanted to show emotion in front of my mother because I knew the minute I cried, she would. I had to prove I was strong enough to get through this with her. After the weekend in the hospital for her procedure, she received the clearance to leave. She had a week to rest, until her twenty weeks of chemotherapy began.

Now myself, being eighteen at the time, have only heard of chemo on those sad lifetime movies. It took a lot of courage, but I decided to ask my mother what exactly she was about to be doing. As she sat at the kitchen table, with a cup of hot coffee in her hand, she began to tell me. “Once a week for five months, I will go to the cancer center. They will hook an IV to my vein and inject me with medicine.” “For five months, mom?” I asked. “Yes.” as the tears rolled down her face again. “I may get sick, I may be very tired, and I will most likely loose all my hair, but remember Sarah, this is helping me live longer.” Tears start to drip from my cheeks and I remember thinking to myself, “Why is this happening to her? Why her?”

I accompanied my mom to her seventh chemo treatment. She sat in a small chair with a table attached to it so she could place her arm to rest. It reminded me of the desks at school, just much smaller. Now, my mom was a trooper when it came to pain, but the screams and cries she let out as the nurse tried and tried to get the IV into her vein, broke my heart. I walked into the other room, where other patients and families sat, and i cried. I cried a lot. I couldn’t help myself. When I finally went back into the room, all I heard was my mom apologizing. “Sarah, hunny, I am so sorry you had to see that, I am so sorry that I scared you, I promise mommy is okay.” She was not only my mother, but also my best friend. The nurse came back in and gave us some news. “Debbie, we’ve ran out of good veins in your arms, let me give you some information on something we call a Port-a-cath. It’s a quarter sized disc, we insert in your chest, that sits under the skin. A soft tube connects directly to the main valve in your heart. So rather than your veins getting all dinged up, you’d receive your chemo through a needle that fits right into the port.

After the port was inserted, the twenty weeks of chemo went by fast. my mom went back to her normal routine, and even grew a majority of her hair back! She went to the doctors for her nine month check, where she thought she was going to hear the words, “Debbie, its time to ring the bell!” All cancer patients who beat cancer, get the ring the bell. ┬áSadly she was mistaken. The doctor told her he found cancer cells in her bone marrow and liver. Cancer is such an aggressive illness, it spreads when you can’t keep it tamed. In August of 2012 the doctor had more bad news.

I was cleaning my room, organizing everything since I was 34 weeks pregnant and in my nesting stage, when I got a text, “Are you home? I received some news that I’d like to share with you face to face.” I knew this couldn’t be good so I responded, “I’m leaving soon, could you call me?” I was already too hormonal, that I didn’t think I could contain myself from the waterworks that would stream down my face if it really was bad news. “Sweetie, Dr. Butler called, he doesn’t like giving bad news over the phone, but he needs me to get treated as soon as I can,” I made a noise to acknowledge I heard her. “Sarah, mommy has brain cancer.” I didn’t even know the correct way to respond. “So what do we do now?” “He wants me to go radiation, starting tomorrow.” my mom stated. “Well, okay, everything will be fine, we will do what is needed!” I found the courage to spit those words out, trying to hide the emotion in my voice. I sat at my desk in my room and cried, I almost didn’t believe it was happening. I waited about a half hour until I went downstairs. My mother must have seen it in my face, and gave me a tight hug. No words were needed, we both weaped into each others shoulders.

I went back into my room and started looking up facts about brain cancer. It was more common in people 65 and older, my mom was only 45. Another thing that stuck out was the website said once brain cancer was detected, only 39% of woman survive for a year or more, and only 20% are predicted to survive for at least five years. After thinking about what I just read, the first thought was, “I’m going to loose my mom.”

In March of 2013, after my mom had stopped radiation for two months, the doctor called to inform her that her cancer was too aggressive. For her to live, she would need to have radiation everyday, which no one’s body can endure. She was told she had been long into the fourth stage of cancer, and had two months to a year to live. Knowing the time span was probably the worst. my mom passed away in the hospital in May of 2013. The last couple of months of her life, I watched her dwindle away, always asking myself why He chose my mother out of everyone. To this day, I still wonder.

 

One thought on “Memoir (First Draft)

  1. As we discussed in class, I think this *does* touch on curiosity–I can see questions you seek to answer about cancer and its symptoms, treatment, etc–but I don’t know that curiosity is really a motivating force here? If it weren’t for the assignment requiring CCP, I’d think that this experience has to do more with grief, loss, connection to your mother, and those sorts of more emotional reactions/interactions. If you choose to stick with this topic for this assignment, think about this situation in terms of what is/are your question(s) and how you went about trying to answer them. (The issue about why her? seems impossible to answer.) You may feel that focusing on cancer as an intellectual subject to research removes the emotion from the traumatic situation, so not sure if that would seem fitting?? Is there some other sort of way curiosity might tie in here?

    Your other option would be to start fresh with another topic. Think about what your interests are, what you like to read/watch about, what news stories catch your attention, what relationships in your life have been puzzling, changes in your life that you’ve been eager or anxious to experience. Whichever you choose, be sure to narrow your time focus so that you can have the room to develop some clearly drawn scenes. I’d be happy to look at another draft before the final is due on Monday–should be free to give pretty immediate feedback via email after tonight.

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