At times I find myself wondering how she does it. How does she remain so positive and hopeful?
I have become more familiar with hospitals and cancer centers than I ever imagined I would, and have eaten far more hospital food than I care to admit to. I have also through this journey become quite familiar with “the cancer patient”.
At the Cancer Center at Providence hospital there was one man in particular who broke my heart daily. He would sit day after day unmoving in his bed, and stare listlessly out the window at the large cement parking garage. I had hoped every time I passed his room that he would look my way and I could smile at him, but he never did. He never had a visitor and I never saw his face. I remember becoming so upset with the architect who built that stupid, cold and dark parking garage right outside his window, and wished desperately that he would soon get out of that lonely room. I remember dreaming of him packing his things and leaving the scariest wing of that entire hospital. There was no “hope” in that room, and I know that despite my desire for him to leave, he likely would not.
As mom was answering her doctors standard questions at a recent chemo appointment she repeatedly responded with “good” to almost every question. As she answered over and over with the same positive response I began to see the doctor become uneasy. I thought at first, “Does he think she’s lying?”, but slowly began to realize that it was her optimism that was making him uncomfortable.
As she sat on the exam table swinging her feet about like a carefree child and happily reporting that she was doing good, and was having a “great” week, I think he was beginning to see a whole new type of patient. I mean, who wouldn’t be devastated to learn this is how you’re going to die? That your life will be drastically cut short, and you may miss the things in life you’ve been dreaming of. Life’s road bumps can often rattle us so much so that we begin to forget how to get over them. I suppose he sees more patients unwilling to fight to get over that road bump than he does patients like my mom.
As I sat there watching her answer his questions I soon realized it was her hope that made him uncomfortable. “Hope” is often what is missing in those fellow cancer patients eyes.
People may think my mom is a little too positive, or hopeful perhaps, but I’ve come to realize that she’s the one doing it right. I believe her will to live and her belief in Gods miracles is what has brought her to today with news that her tumors are shrinking and the chemo is working. Against what her doctor felt was her fate, she has kept living. Not just breathing in and out, but really living. Taking each day as it comes, building relationships and mending those broken, sharing love with friends and family, and making trips. An incredible mother doesn’t quite cut it, she is truly an incredible human.
Mom always complained about my tendency to procrastinate. I suppose she’s finally winning that battle for I will never let my life slip swiftly through my fingers for every day is worthy of celebration. Every day we should be looking for the silver lining and spreading hope. There would be no reason to sit there and list the negative aspects of this experience at every doctor appointment when now every day she’s wakes up breathing strong is a battle won.