12-17-10 Chemo Day
It snowed last night. It was beautiful. I awoke to a world that looked pristine and renewed. A day to reflect on gratitude for sure. It’s also chemo day. As I drive over to pick her up I listen to the voice inside me that I believe tells me what I need to do….to say. So much of what we do here at T.com is reflect on our pasts and let go of those things that no longer serve our best interest. I know her past is filled with pain and so it is time for her and I to talk about it. We have hours to do this so no better time, apparently, then today. I am grateful for the guidance I am being given. I just can’t do this alone.
I pick her up and she is a bit unorganized, the book she normally brings is nowhere to be found. So in its place she takes a great book on living a stress free life. Interesting intervention here isn’t it! We get in the truck and I ask the customary questions. How is she feeling, she is clearly sick and her voice sounds like a mans, immediately I am worried, but do my best never to show it. This week she is tired. She still works full time 12 hour shifts at the hospital, at 72 years of age, going through aggressive cancer treatment, she is amazing. Her feet had already started to go numb from the medicine but now her hands are too. Chemo is a powerful poison slowly killing everything, even nerve endings, in its path. She got her growth shots this week so her white blood count should be sufficient to get all of the meds necessary. Thank God.
We arrive and she asks for a mask right away, the responsible thing to do so that she doesn’t get others with compromised immune systems ill. So the waiting game begins. We are usually there at least one hour before they get started. They do the labs right away and then we pick our chair, with a view of the mountains, with snow all over them, and begin our talk. It’s as if the world around us no longer exists and she welcomes me into hers. I listen with full attention and know in my heart this is a healing conversation for her.
She tells me all about her childhood and I see her releasing much that has burdened her – I see wrinkles literally smooth on her face, I see a glow in her eyes as we finish our talk and the Benadryl takes affect and she allows herself to peacefully fall off to sleep for the next 3 hours of infusion. My hope is she is filled with beautiful dreams.
She was born in Philadelphia in 1939 to a Sioux Indian father and mother. Few know that Indians also have blonde, red head, pale people! Which is how her mother looked and now her. Her father is a angry man who never had anything nice to say. He had no patience or tolerance. Her mother was not much of a mother at all.
At the age of 7 her parents split, but never divorced because that was not an acceptable thing to do back in the 40’s. She had 3 sisters and one brother. All with tragic fates. The oldest died at the age of 19 from kidney disease, the next used to use her mother and told her that if she wanted to ever see her again (she traveled entertaining the men of the military – she was quite beautiful, and was a great singer and apparently quite the comedian) she needed to send her money – by a DEADLINE…one year her mother didn’t make the deadline and Peggy was never to be seen again….by anyone. She may still be alive, though in her 80’s. Catherine’s mother spent a fortune trying to find her – her attempts were futile.
Then there is Aunt Pat who some of you know I took care of 2 years ago as she battled brain cancer, and passed away very quickly.
Her brother David had a brain aneurysm and did nothing to take care of it and so it took his life. The last surviving child is Catherine.
She spoke of the pain she felt growing up with a mother who was not around. She worked a lot and literally the two could pass in the hallway once a month and not a word was spoken. She was left to raise herself. If her mother got upset she would lock her in a closet and quite often forgot about her and left her for days at a time.
Both her mother and father were alcoholics, and occasionally he would come to visit the kids and all out war would break lose. Dish throwing seemed to be their way of handling the anger and frustration.
When Catherine’s sister passed at the age of 19 her mother grew severely depressed and ceased to function, Christmas was especially difficult and to this day Catherine says she hates Christmas. We spoke about this. I shared with her the need to let go of a past she is powerless to change and make the holidays a joyful time of gratitude and happiness. Sharing with her the opportunity to see how her dislike of the holiday has now affected her children, and now her grandchildren as well. She feel deep into thought during this part of the conversation and I literally sensed the “ah-ha” moment within her and believe this will be a powerful turning point for her.
In her youth she loved playing hockey! She was tall and strong at 5’8”. She also was a swimmer, a race car driver and a model. She has lived a very full life. It wasn’t until the age of 32 that she began her medical schooling!!! She says knowing what she knows now she would not do it all over again. Her career came at a price to her children.
She recalls with sadness and guilt in her eyes a day when John was maybe 8 years old and he looked up at her and said “in my next life I want to come back as a patient so that you will NEVER leave ME”…… I had no words. Choosing career over family is not something I believe in and could not find the words to make her feel better outside of the choices we make we must accept and live with ~ that all we can do is BETTER for THIS day and show our love and gratitude for those around us. She can be there for him now. In a moment of tired exhaustion, when he needs her, be there – no matter what. Sit down with him, talk to him about his day, his classes, his children and be “interested, not interesting” this is a mantra that has been ever present in my life right now, so I shared it with her.
She spoke of the loss of her one and only love in life – how she never allowed herself to be open to love again. I corrected her on this and told her that she loves me, unconditionally, and the rest of her children and grandchildren and Helen. That she has a family that loves her the same. I can’t imagine living with years of sadness and loss. See she was pregnant and engaged to be married and there was a horrible car crash that killed her unborn child and fiancé ~ leaving her to a life of unanswered questions – what could her life have been like? We spoke about this, that each of us have a path in life that I believe is predetermined, and its not for us to question…each incident occurs for a reason – leading us down our one true path…so acceptance is the only way to move forward in this life….like it or not. Holding onto the past will not allow us to move into the future.
I am so grateful for the many lessons I have learned here at Transformation.com for they have given me the tools to now help a 72 year old woman, dying of an incurable cancer, to find peace in her life. To release all that no longer serves her and allow her final months of life to be healing ones. Ironic isn’t it? Healing her heart and soul while cancer takes her body.