Cancer, the Heartbreaker

I called my mother this morning, not expecting her to answer. She did, though, so I was happy.

She was tired and had no idea what the time was. In fairness, she doesn’t have a clock to hand so any thoughts of her current mindset were quickly pushed to one side.

Mum’s not the full ticket at the moment, and who could blame her?

They’re still draining liquid out of her – they say they won’t stop until there’s no more blood in it – and she’s dropped a little below 6 stone. In my stronger days, I could easily give three of her a piggyback without being concerned I might dislodge something.

I always wanted to know when I will die. This is mainly because I don’t want to miss anything. I approach every day as if it’s my last – after all, one day it will be my last.

This isn’t my first foray into losing a loved one to cancer, but it is the first time I’ve seen it with wide eyes. When my Nan announced she had lung cancer back when I was 9, I thought she could just have some Night Nurse and sleep it off. I was never exposed to the true evil that accompanies cancer. In fact, I can state right now that I’ve changed my stance on life; I know my mum will soon be gone, but I can’t bring myself to cross the Ts and dot the I’s because a sudden death would be much kinder than what she’s experiencing. I would rather I didn’t have the chance to tell her how much I love her than to tell her every few hours each day knowing that today’s seen another increase in morphine and another pain somewhere.

It’s been hard seeing mum. Not so much seeing her in her physical state, where I’m not certain if it’s going to be cancer or starvation that kills her, but seeing her with a dry mouth, side effect of the morphine, and trying to form a sentence. She manages nearly every time, but it sounds mumbled.

Every time we get to her, we’re the last ones there. This by proxy means we’re the people mum actively wants to leave because she’s worn out from all the visitors and morphine. We turn up, she’s resting her eyes, so we stay just to be with her.

I watched my grandad die 18 years ago. I thought that was the worst moment of my life, and I’ve had a few rough moments in that life, but when he died, I knew who he was. He smelled the same, he felt the same, and he looked the same.

Cancer’s stolen all my mum’s most recognisable features. When she lost her hair to chemo, she totally rocked that Sinead O’Connor look. She was divine because she still had her beautiful face. She has it now, only the chemo’s made her skin blotchy, her disease has made her gaunt. Her slender size 8 figure has been replaced by someone who looks slightly like my mother, sometimes sounds like her, but doesn’t think like her. When she walked, I could recognise the clickety click of her heels from 200 metres and then I’d smile, knowing I had time to finish whatever piece of deviance I was up to, and I’ve been robbed of that sound. There’s nobody to catch me out now.

I called her again when I got home on Monday, and the confusion was worse. We were talking about Travis and she started murmuring something. She then went silent for a moment before asking, “What was I just saying?” I don’t know, I admitted, as the reception’s really bad here, but you sound really tired so I’ll let you go.

The last thing I want is for mum to thing she’s losing it. She knows it’s the increased morphine levels but she feels so bad when she phases out. When she talks about hallucinating – which Travis and I then start joking about with her – I’ll tell her a tale of the time I saw Sonic the Hedgehog leaping into a dragon tree, and then go off on a tangent by talking about dragon trees.

On Saturday she was certain she wouldn’t make it home to us due to a blood clot that came up in her left side. On Sunday she was bright, breezy and funny. Come Tuesday, she was told she has a urine infection as well. Today she told me she’s not coming home. She’s just not feeling up to all the moving about.

Someone, please tell me: if there is a God, why on earth does he wish for her to suffer like this? What’s the end game? Why can’t old age just be the reason I don’t have her anymore? How is it fair that someone like her gets knock after knock before torturing her like this?

It seems strange but when Mum was told she had six to twelve months left, she became even more amazing than she used to be. She used to be quite uptight, always anxious. Now the real mum is shining through. She began to finally start enjoying her life. I could finally joke about with her. When Travis met Mum, he came away thinking that she was the funniest woman he’s ever met. Well, might be the case, but a couple of years ago she wasn’t that funny.

Is it likely that someone’s going to tell me the reason for Mum’s cancer is that it was required to bring her out of her shell? Well, forgive my unreasonable nature but I quite loved my mother the way she was, and I love her the way she is, but I would give my life for her to have a few years more. If I could sell my soul to the devil, I won’t even bother reading the small print; just give my mum the life she should have.

The only thing giving me comfort right now is knowing that my mum’s been looking forward to seeing Grandad for so long, not to mention my Nan and cousin will be there to greet her. I have to say I’m pretty jealous of that.

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