My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and then battled the disease with everything she had. After her death, two of her four daughters
were diagnosed with that same cancer. Several times, my mother had her own scares that demanded biopsies, but those times ended with good news.
Those times didn’t feel like this time.
When I kissed Mom goodbye before they took her into surgery, I told her we’d be waiting, and she offered a quiet smile. After all, it might be nothing…the other times it had been nothing. But as she was wheeled away, I saw my mother look up at me with a look of worry that had nothing to do with herself.
It had everything to do with me and my three sisters.
As my father and I waited and walked the halls of the hospital, I thought again about my mother’s face, white as the sheet that covered her. Her lipstick was missing and she was wearing that awful gown that feels like a sign of something to come.
Finally, the doctor came out, still wearing his surgical hat. My family has faced this man many times in situations just like this, but I knew as he walked toward us that this time would be different. “It’s cancer,” the doctor told my father, reaching for his hand. “It’s in the early stages but with her family history, my recommendation would be a mastectomy.”
My father couldn’t talk, just blinked like he’d suddenly been shaken from a warm dream. He listened when I asked questions and when the doctor walked away, Dad looked at me, dazed and disbelieving.
“How do we tell your mother?”
For the complete column, please see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.