F@%k Cancer! (Prologue)

62 years.

Is this all we get?

She was supposed to grow old and gray. Maybe even die peacefully in her sleep at age 102, after reaping the rewards of the years she saved for retirement, for our colleges, for grandma’s funeral. Damn! She even saved for the grandkids that life never meant to deny her; the children I could still have and she’d never meet if all this goes to hell in a hand basket.

I pray that WebMD, Google and my suspicions are wrong. Life must be pulling a prank on us,on me. Surely modern medicine can and will save her. This is 2018 after all. There must be surgical lasers, magic scalpels and drugs that can and will restore her to all her glory. She’s too young to be trapped inside her head fighting to get the right words to come out. Confused. Lost. Too young to be denied the excitement of driving the twin turbo BMW hatchback she gave herself as a retirement gift. (Three hours of our lives at the dealership I won’t get back.) Previous trips to the ER had yielded no satisfactory answers. We had unfortunately found out, too late, that her latest MRI scans revealed a deep and incredible mystery. All my hopes that this was just another “getting old” idiopathic cause for concern were dashed. We knew there was a tumor, but we didn’t know if it was malignant or benign.

Hope is a double-edged sword.

I know she smiles and laughs but there is a bit of frustration and fear in her eyes. Me being here, in this sterile hospital room with her, and with my sister, is not how our yearly family vacation was supposed to go down. Add to that the fact that she lives in Tampa, mom in Puerto Rico, and I in the great PNW. Three time zones, one blood line. You can tell we don’t belong in this telemetry unit. We look lost, tired, out of place, like we are searching for the kinds of answers that will get us safely back home. My mom is too young to be dying. I’m too young to be talking to doctor’s about DNRs and what if dark scenarios. My sister is losing her mind, what little was left of her patience, and most likely the first job she has liked in years. This is not going to end well, I fear.

Mom, aka the Colonel, keeps repeating names, sounds, and made up garbled words that make her seem playful, almost child like. At least she still knows who she is, who we are (her girls), and that we love her. We most definitely love her. I’m are scared, tired of watching her fade away, here and there, out of reach, trapped in this weird limbo caused by the occipital lobe leisure in her beautiful brain. She’s been like this for almost five days now. I have never met a stronger, more capable and independent person on this planet, facts adding to the pain of seeing her suffer like this. My cousin and aunt tried to spare me from the shock of her convulsions but the truth had to come out. There I was, at the private hospital, forcing my hand, cashing in favors through my father in law’s medical connections. Boy, was I grateful to have married W! My marriage was literally instrumental in saving my mother’s life. Who knew?

Is this how her story ends?

A few hours ago she was stroking my hair, asking me if I was frightened. I bravely said no because there are absolutely no regrets as it concerns our history. She taught me to solve problems, to fight for what I had earned. Her spirit and passion fuel my own ambitions. I am who I am because she refused to accept anything less than my best effort; to love unconditionally, kindly and courageously. She never feared death and prepared me for this moment throughout my entire life. I just never thought the day would come so soon. I want to flee. To get on a plane and pretend everything’s okay. To not have to worry about chemo, surgery or last wills and testaments. We should be planning my sister’s wedding not shooing away a funeral.

Why now?

Why her?

She has so much to live for!

All I feel is anger. Pure unadulterated rage. Words elude me. I’m numb, fighting today for the win tomorrow.

This nightmare has to end…


The plan was for his post to be a stand alone account of the hardship my family was enduring as we waited for a diagnosis for my ailing mother. It turned out to be so much more.

Follow the series for more information and share with those on similar paths. Maybe our experience can serve others. My mom will appreciate the opportunity to serve others, as this was her true calling. We love you mom!

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