Wednesday, January 14, 2009
A Collective Effort
I sat, this morning, in the oncologist's office with my mother. The doctor explained the procedure for today's first experience with chemotherapy. "We'll do everything we can, but you must know this is incurable. We hope to give you 3 to 3 1/2 years", she said to my mother. That was the first time my mother or me had heard those words. I have been stalwart and positive since the news first broke of my mother's new dance with cancer. But, today, in that unadorned room with the teal-flecked carpet my lip started to quiver. Before I could bite the side of my tongue to distract myself from tears, a river fell out of my eyes. My mother saw me. My first thought was, "No, don't you say that to my mother. Don't you fill her mind with doubt. Don't you speak in your powerful white-coat words of anything but hope and possibility and the power of positive attitudes". But the doctor did not. So I forced her to. Through sobs in my throat I said, "I want you to tell my mother about the patients you have seen whose cancer has been eradicated. Tell her about the ones who have survived." As it turns out, 2 of her patients with the same condition as my mother have beaten it. One is in her 10th year, one is in his 15th. Living normal lives. Before the chemotherapy drip started, with my arms around my mother, I told her I believe with every fiber of my being she will pass through this journey with cancer and come out the other side. Alive. I told her words are so powerful in directing the course of one's life. We are only going to focus on the positives and the possibilities. 3 years is unacceptable. We are going to use the power of our collective minds to love you back to health. The medical profession, for all its vast good and needfulness, only focuses on the body. It is only one part of the equation of good health. Let the doctors do what they do, but we will take care of your mind and heart. And so the clear liquid slid into my mother's veins while we cried some more and talked of flowers and vowed to keep focused on the positive. Call me stubborn. I am. Call me arrogant. At times. But do not call me uneducated in the ways and needs of the soul. I wear my own white coat, dear doctor. You do your part in the collective effort to walk my mother through the shadowed valley. I will do mine, and mine is no less needful than yours.