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I’ve always been the neglectful of the two daughters in my family when it comes to remembering important dates. My sister, Emily, is the one who reminds me of my parents’ anniversary, birthdays and other important dates throughout the year.

There is one birthday I will never again forget. November 8 was my mother’s 58th birthday.

It was also the day she found out she had cancer.

Since her diagnosis, I’ve been through five stages of emotion. I’ve been told by those around me that nothing I’m feeling is out of the ordinary or surprising. Still, it feels like the first time this has ever happened to anyone, ever.

Denial…
So, she has cancer. A lot of people have cancer. They get surgery, do chemo, radiation, whatever. They get better. My mom will get better. It is only a matter of a little surgery, maybe some radiation, and she will be good to go.

Acceptance…
She has a stomach tumor. It is inoperable. The cancer has also spread to her liver.

Anger…
This wasn’t supposed to happen to my mom. She is a good person. She doesn’t deserve this. My dad doesn’t deserve this. Of course I’m not naive enough to believe life is fair. But this is wrong. It’s just wrong.

Who can I blame for this? Who can I direct my hatred toward? Who can I punch in the fucking face?

Avoidance…
I have a faceless enemy. My rage has no outlet.

So I hide. I hide behind sarcasm and inappropriate remarks.

“Get better soon so I can make fun of you,” I tell her.

For the most part my tears have now been replaced with compulsive cleaning, organizing and eating. (I really need to add compulsive exercising to the list.)

Despite feeling like my family is the first to ever experience this, it also feels like this is supposed to happen to other people. The people whose pictures you see on the donation buckets at fast food drive throughs. The women whose bald heads have come to symbolize cancer walks. This is not supposed to happen to my mom.

Hope…
My mom is enrolled in a clinical trial at Siteman Cancer Center, the best place she could possibly be for treatment. She has started chemo. Our goal through the treatment is to buy as much time with her as possible.

My dad shared some wisdom with me the other day. He said something along the lines of, “Time is one thing God got right. It is the only thing that can heal us and get us through the worst experiences.” In a recent email to my sister and me, he explained, “It is when we fight together as a family that we prove our worth. With that as our barometer, we are going to beat this thing.”

No matter how much advice people have shared with me since this journey began, none of it rings as true as what my dad says.

Time and family: two things I used to take for granted. Never again.

This was before my mom started doing shots with my friends at the bar.

I’ll see you at the finish line, Mom.

5 thoughts on “Beat This Cancer So I Can Make Fun of You Again

  1. Keep writing Annie, this is awesome. I don’t know if dad shared the email I sent to him a few days ago but I listed the 5 stages of emotion. This makes me realize how very much alike we are and never really figured it out (since I was always the one considered an “alien”)!  So glad you are my sister!

  2. Annie,
    I remember having some of these same feelings and thoughts a little over forty-
    one years ago. Ditto a month and a half ago.
    Love you all very much.
    Grandma Hafner

  3. Annie,
    I love that you can put things in writing. Keep using it as an outlet. It probably helps you, but it helps those of us who read it, too. Your mom’s journey is difficult (to say the least), but with her family to help her (and make her laugh!), she, and we, will get through this unanticipated life detour.
    Love and prayers for all of your family,
    Aunt Sue

  4. My Dear Niece:

    As always, your writing seems to jump right into the core of whatever subject you have decided to focus on. This particular subject (s), and by subject (s) I mean your Mom and your Dad and your sister….and you….(and your men who have wisely decided to become your spouse (s) and your Mom and Dads very special families) are so much in our hearts. Friends first….in-laws later, your Aunt and your Mom have a special bond that is hard to explain. That being said, it is so hard being away from y’all. We love y’all and offer any help you and your….our family, might need. Nice words you have written here young lady. And I agree with your Aunt Sue….it can only help your Mom and all of us as well.

    Unc Steve

  5. Time & Family is right, in the words of Metallica…”and Nothing Else Matters.” Keep up that attitude. You guys will beat this indeed. SO sorry your Mom is going through this. Life, ugh.

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