Since that August diagnosis, friends have been asking how my mother is doing, with the understanding that cancer is not a minor journey. From August through January, I was privileged to share that Mom was facing her diagnosis quite courageously, but most overwhelmingly, with peace.
This peace became evident to me several times. One special experience was when I was blessed to accompany Mom and her friend Sue to a women’s retreat in northern Indiana. After we shared a weekend of “sweet” fellowship, teaching and encouragement, we went shopping for a bit, and Mom and I found a couple of winter-appropriate, sharp hats. They would be ready to keep Mom’s head warm as chemotherapy enthusiastically attacked her hair follicles (and I prayed this was indicative of the job it was doing on the tumor).
Another special time came in October, while Dad took part in a medical mission trip to Brazil, and Mom was dealing with a post-chemo week. These were weeks when she felt totally wiped out and didn’t really desire others’ company, so she had shared her desire to not have others come and spend time with her. When I assumed I was included here, my wise husband offered to let me spend the weekend away from our home, and he suggested that I offer this plan to Mom. He was right: knowing that I wouldn’t ask anything of her, and I’d allow her to have whatever odd sleeping and eating schedule she needed, Mom welcomed the chance for me to come and stay for the weekend. What did we do? Nothing, really, and that was the beauty of it. The “nothing” consisted of watching TV, viewing a chick flick on dvd, taking naps, reading email, taking the dog for a walk… did I mention napping? One thing that Mom did was write in her journal, where she intended to find five things to be thankful for each day. And what did I notice through my time there? One word: peace. We had fun chats, but we also reveled in the lack of sound and activity. It was lovely, in ways that cannot really be quantified.
When Mom found in September that the chemo-poison in her bloodstream made her traditionally-adored morning cup of coffee taste rather vile, she had decided to make a large batch of hot cocoa mix, a recipe she had used since I was quite young. So her morning coffee time became time for a hot and creamy cocoa beverage, as she greeted the day with a mug and a smile. And she shared a tub of mix with her daughter’s family, thrilled to experience the chocolaty goodness a county away.
There are numerous anecdotes I could share about our peaks into Mom’s cancer journey, but I think it was summed up best by mom’s friend Nancy, as she shared a comment on my mother’s Caringbridge blog on September 28:
Everywhere I go people ask me about my dear friend, Betty. When I tell them how well she is doing, that her attitude is good and her courage is strong, they simply nod their heads. EVERY one of them tells me that they don’t know anyone as strong in their faith and courage as Betty–what a tribute to a wonderful lady.
They just nod their heads… what a tribute, and what a goal. We love you, Mom, and we’re so happy that your treatment journey is almost completed!