F@%k Cancer, Part 6

She’s not getting any better.

Back in August when the tumor, which looks like two masses, they told us she had three to six months to live without chemo or radiation treatments. We are on month four of six, in hospice care, waiting for the 9.0 earthquake inside her head that erases her from existence. Last hospital stay she told me she wanted a quiet death, the kind that comes suddenly with no pain. She hates being trapped in her mind for days while the steroids kick in.

I feel like I’m on the Pacific Rim Shatterdome, resetting the countdown clock after every episode. 10 days. That’s the convulsion lead time. Slowly, the anxiety in our family builds the closer the timer gets to zero. It’s shocking to say the least because the strong, kind and compassionate woman who preceded us all is deconstructing bit by bit with every day that passes. She goes from being almost capable of taking care of herself to being bed ridden. We don’t know if this is the “patatú” that ends her glorious journey on the beautiful island paradise in which we were born and raised.

The hospice team is preparing us for the worst. Not that they have to do much on our behalf since we are already on Defcon 1. Brain Cancer attacked us like the Cylons did the Battlestar Fleet, and we’ve been running Galactica on fumes for months now. I still don’t know if we will find the 13th Colony, that miracle drug or treatment that could bring her back. The odds are not working in our favor. At some point we will have to start selling the car, donating or giving away whatever goods we can salvage from her 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom apartment in downtown Hato Rey, and sort through all the other trinkets she accumulated over the years for a job well done. This is what it must have felt like to lose so many Colonial Vipers and Warriors to the enemy; to say goodbye to the items that served us well in our childhood and beyond.

As we wind down the days and weeks leading up to her 63rd birthday on December 11th, my only hope is that she pulls through the holiday season. With my 10th wedding anniversary looming, Christmas, New Year’s and the 10th anniversary of my grandpa’s death the family has enough emotional baggage to process. Losing my mom in the prime of our lives is devastating enough. Hopefully the rest or the celebrations don’t get tainted. Selfish, perhaps, but if I keep collecting great losses next to big wins the cynic in me will persist, and then all was for naught.

Learning to stay compassionate, kind and gentle through the stages of grief is a lot harder than one realizes. Much respect for those who stayed positive and optimistic throughout their trials and tribulations. Words cannot express the gratitude in my heart towards those who have gone through similar battles, from cancer to saying goodbye to a loved one, and have shares their lessons learned with me. It helps to be prepared for the worst, when the best will never come.

Everyone to their battle stations…reset the clock…

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