If you follow my blog you will have noticed that there was a long time of inactivity. The end of 2017 in to 2018 was a series of unexpected tragedies in my family. Many people won’t be able to relate to the deep sorrow of losing a pet but my best friend of 16 years died and it was unbearable. Only a month after Bunny’s passing another of my cats died. Frankie had feline lymphocytic leukemia and it was so expensive. He was terribly sick during the four days I spent in the hospital with Bunny; he died a month to the day after she did.
But the loss didn’t end with cats. In the beginning of January my baby sister called me because she was scared for my mom.
My mom was diagnosed with HER2 breast cancer in December of 2016. She started chemo treatments that following January, then declared breast cancer free in August of 2017. For Christmas of that year she had sent me my grandmother’s wedding ring; a ring that my mom had worn since she had inherited it. It arrived in my gifts that year with a note that until then she hadn’t been able to get it off her fingers. I thought nothing of that comment; I talked to my mom on the phone all the time and she complained about being overweight. It made no sense when my sister started telling me mom was suddenly too thin. I thought maybe she was just not used to a now ‘unfluffy’ mom. I couldn’t deny my sister was concerned though. Still I had brushed it off as something related to the treatments my mom was still getting, she had finished chemo but maybe it was a side effect of the continued IV therapy.
I was wrong.
My mom’s cancer had come back. MBC. Metastatic Breast Cancer. Late stage. It was in her breasts, chest cavity, lungs, liver, lymphatic system, and in her brain. Stage four. No prospects for recovery. She was dying. I flew across country to help. I arrived the first day of February, the first day of my mom’s ten day radiation treatments for her brain tumors. She would look at me and ask me if I was really there or if it was something she was watching on TV. She was hallucinating. She would tell me straight up that she wasn’t sure what was real. I had to give my family the no-shitter of how my mom had no more than weeks to months to live. I spent most of 2018 in Pennsylvania with my family.
Even though my mom was in treatment it was all temporary. It was theater. We were a in a tragic play where we were all hemorrhaging but there was no band-aid big enough to hide the wound the disease was making in our lives. Cancer isn’t like pregnancy, there isn’t a family ‘we have cancer’ call to arms. There isn’t a ‘we have cancer’ plan for how we are all going to be part of the epic event. Cancer is a lonely, alienating disease that pits loved ones against one another. And it was my mom’s cancer so the rest of us got to be spectators to the entire horror show.
You can guess by my bitterness that this isn’t a story with a miracle ending.
I took a break in July to fly home to California. I was tired. My mom was hard to deal with as the cancer progressed and I felt like a punching bag. I arrived back in San Diego just in time to go with my husband so we could take our oldest cat put to sleep. She was nineteen, and her lifespan encompassed the entirety of my relationship with my guy. She adopted us a few weeks after we moved in together. Now my four pound Kitty Kitty had a tumor half the size of her body in her abdomen. She had it too.
Because cancer is never done, it takes everything.
I was planning on going back to Pennsylvania the start of October to be there for my mom’s and my birthday. I wanted my guy and me to get to spend his birthday together before I left to go back to the cancer hell that was my skeleton-like mom and her brain tumor bad moods. I’d barely talked to my mom while I was home in San Diego. I was hurt by all the shitty things she had said before I left in July. My sister had my mom and I video chat often though. She looked bad. Really fucking terrible. She was fading out. I knew the shit show ending was coming. I knew I had to go back soon. I made plans.
But I ran out of time.
The day before my guy’s birthday my mom died. I headed back to Pennsylvania to handle the aftermath of a catastrophe brought on by the same pair of tits that fed me as a baby. There is a really weird part of me that was guilty, angry, numb, and stunned all at once. I guess that is grief, or shock, or maybe it’s just the bullshit that comes with knowing the ending but it not being a reality until it is. I didn’t know how my dad was going to take care of my sister. I didn’t know if I would be bringing her home with me. I wasn’t sure I was even the right person to try to hold my baby sister when she cried because I couldn’t give myself permission to cry in front of her.
Death is an unknown. Knowing how to survive someone is an unknown.
And the day we held the viewing for my mom I got an email from my doctor that said the findings of my last mammogram required further testing because of a suspicious mass.
Cancer fucking sucks. It’s a shit disease. I would rather meet the Grim Reaper in a back alley than have cancer come to my door.
I won’t even apologize for my blog and reviews taking a back burner, which is saying something because I’m an apologist of the first order. I say sorry for being sorry most of the time. I just had nothing left in me. I was a walking manifestation of all the signs of grief, with the exception of bargaining because I just couldn’t gather the energy to begin negotiations.
My follow up happened a few days after I returned to California in November on the anniversary of Bunny’s passing. They redid my mammogram and raced me to ultrasound. It was at that moment that I bartered with God for the first time. I promised him that if I didn’t get any surprises with the ultrasound I would never again leave the house ill prepared for shit going down without my Ativan.
I know cancer pretty well and it was either going to give me a pass or give me a fail so there was no point in trying reason with it. If it wanted me it would just take me.
I left there that day with the radiologist telling me that she couldn’t detect anything that would suggest a malignancy but I was to schedule a six month follow up appointment because boobs are just more trouble than they are worth. The radiologist didn’t actually say that last part but I felt it was implied.
I started 2019 with a promise to myself that I would get back to the things I love. I would write again. I would read more. I would travel with my guy. I would talk to my uncle more. I would get back to blogging. And I wouldn’t sit around empty and missing all that I have lost.
Although I won’t lie; I have some abandonment issues my psychologist and I are going to be doing therapy for until the end of days.
What I am saying is stick around and see what happens.
But please get your tits checked. Cancer seems to really like the funbags. And support Breast Cancer Awareness. Hell support Cancer Awareness in general. If you can give, donate. If you can’t give, donate.
If you can’t donate than do something other than die to this fucking pointless disease or watch your loved ones die to it.