Mother appeared to be doing well, reading books, watching TV, and talking on the phone like she normally would. She rested while my father and I, and a few other family members, tended to matters of the house while she rested.
In early February, Mother went through surgery and had most of the cancer removed. The cancer was in the late stages of three to four. The surgeon told us that even though he removed the bulk of the cancer, it would grow back fast because the cancer was aggressive. The next step in treatment would be chemotherapy.
The morning Mother was to have chemotherapy seemed like a normal day. Mother was, doing all right, sitting in her chair, paying bills, and really being her normal self aside from some pain from the surgery. She wasn’t looking forward to going in for chemotherapy, but she knew everyone wanted her to give it a shot. We didn’t want to see her give in too soon. I think about this now and wonder if this was because we didn’t want to lose her sooner than we had to, instead of thinking of what she might have wanted.
I helped Mother get dressed and drink down a Carnation Instant breakfast shake and out the door she went. I wanted to go with her, but I stayed home and did the laundry and some cleaning. It was early afternoon when the phone rang. The ambulance rushed my mother to the hospital because she had had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic the nurse gave her before she could even begin the chemotherapy.
This was bad. If Mother could not withstand the antibiotics given before chemotherapy, how could she get her treatment? I didn’t know then that there were other antibiotics that could be tried. My father and I rushed to the hospital. One of my aunts and her husband went along too.
I sat at the foot of my mother’s hospital bed. The reality of the situation had sunk in. The doctor’s harsh bedside manner did not help the situation. Mother was in tears as my father tried to console her. “What does it matter? I am only going to die anyway.”
That did it. I busted out in loud sobs I could no longer hold within my teenage body. My mother looked at me surprised of my outburst, but I could not help it. My aunt looked at me and held me, knowing exactly what I needed. I could not believe my mother had said such a thing, but at the same time, I understood she must have been so frustrated, scared, and tired. The rest of the night was a blur.
Some time later, when Mother was back at home, sitting in her favorite blue recliner, she called my father and I to her side. We knelt down in front of my mother and each held one of her hands. She looked down at us with her beautiful hazel eyes, her curly black hair framing her youthful face. “I’m not going through with the chemotherapy. I have decided I don’t want to go through it.”
I held my mother’s hand not totally surprised by what she had decided. I was sad, but I knew I had to respect her decision. It was her body and she would be the one undergoing all the treatments and enduring everything that went with the therapy such as nausea, hair loss, and not to mention any mental or emotional toll the treatment might have had.
We all knew what my mother’s decision meant. We knew she would be dying, and the doctor told us she had only a matter of months left. Mother, still holding our hands, began to cry, not because she would be dying, but because she was afraid. “Whatever you do,” she said looking at both my father and me, “don’t walk away from God because of this, because you will lose everything.”
“I won’t, Mom. You don’t have to worry about that. I know with God I will have everything I need,” I said with an honest heart. Tears now rolled down my cheeks as I looked her. My father also told her that he would not walk away. This made the tears stream down my mother’s face even more. I think she was relieved to hear that my father and I would not blame God for her death and walk away from Him.
Stay tuned for Part 6 coming this Thursday!