Some of you know that my mom has been battling ovarian cancer for about 1 1/2 years. She was diagnosed eight months after my father died -- a hurt that hadn't yet healed (does the loss of a spouse of 55 years ever really heal?) and was barely getting her feet back underneath her when she was hit with the bad news. She had almost a year of remission after her surgery and first round of chemo. Then in November the cancer was back, although so far it's only a small lesion and enlarged lymph nodes, nothing really aggressive or invasive yet. She was put on a trial drug that has great promise but, unfortunately, that didn't work for her. Fortunately, nothing was really lost by trying the experimental drug. It was our first choice because it has fewer and mostly milder side effects and the treatment regimen is easier than traditional chemo. Because her cancer is slow-growing at this point, giving the trial a shot for the extra months didn't hurt in terms of cancer advancement, and it was worth trying. Now we're back to more traditional treatments. She's frail and weak so our best option is to try gemzar.
She's nearly 88 years old and just a little slip of a woman at this point, but her emotional strength is amazing. And all that brings me to the point of this post: blessings. So here are a few.
I'm blessed to have this time with my mom. I'm blessed to be able to heal hurts, to see our relationship grow and deepen; I'm blessed to be able to help her in a way I know my brothers couldn't, although they would and do help in their own way.
I'm blessed to see her humor in times of tragedy. One day, in the oncologist's office, she started to lose her balance and trip; I grabbed her hand and asked if she was ok, and she made the entire office of cancer patients laugh when she said, with a crooked little grin, "If I was ok, I wouldn't be here!"
I'm blessed to be here to fill in some of her memory gaps; to provide the small gestures of strength -- opening a jar, lifting the corn flake box when she's too tired, driving her on small errands.
I'm blessed to hear her stories, even the ones I've heard a hundred times before, and even the ones that are being rewritten. I'm blessed to have the quiet times with her, to just listen, to see the woman she is.
And, I'm blessed to be her daughter.