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Sunday, April 24, 2011

The long goodbye...

One of my son's friends has a parent that is dying.  His mother to be exact.  I only know the family a little, however I have been deeply touched by this.  I guess because this little boy is the same age as my son and his parents are my age.

I just found out that she may only have a couple more weeks left.

When I look at her husband, I wonder what it must be like living every day now knowing that the woman he loves and has been married to for many years is leaving soon.  How does one go through the hours knowing that these precious few that remain are it?  What must it be like to be saying goodbye to someone in little bits every day?

I think of her little boy and wonder what goes through his mind.  Has he really grasped the finality of what is to come?  Does his heart break every day knowing she is leaving?

Yesterday, I sat next to her at a game and had an opportunity to talk to her.  Like I said, I don't know them very well, but they are very nice people.  I started to speak with her and I had to tell her my name again (poor memory is the byproduct of medications she is taking).  I told her I had heard about what is going on with her and asked her if she minded talking to me about it.  She was very gracious and told me I could ask her anything I wanted to.

I asked her what type of cancer she has and she told me it is ovarian.  She was sick for a while before it was finally diagnosed.  She told me that ovarian cancer is difficult to detect and hers was only found when she finally insisted on having a hysterectomy after an extended battle with her symptoms.  She said she had told her doctors that she thought it might be ovarian cancer based on some research she had done on her own, but they told her repeatedly that it wasn't that.  By the time they found it, it was stage 3, which meant she only had a 20% chance of survival.  After the initial treatment, she had a remission for a year and then it came back.  After trying to fight it again, she finally discontinued the treatments which weren't helping and were making her very sick.  She knew what was coming.

I asked her about this long goodbye.  She told me it is hard.  She said her kids (she also has a daughter) go through the range of emotions in a day...anger, sadness, frustration, denial.  She told me she is trying to teach her husband how to cook the things he loves that she currently cooks.

I asked her if there were ever any moments in a day that she did not think about what was coming.  She told me there weren't.  She said she is always aware of it...this coming end.  She said she manages to enjoy her moments, but she knows she is leaving and she is sad about it.  She is trying to live the moments she has left in a way that will create some good memories for her husband and children.  She is trying to tell them it is okay and that their lives will go on and that they will be okay.

I wanted to ask her if she was scared, but I didn't.


Penny said...

Diana, I went thru this with a good friend at the S.O. I dont know if you remember her but her name was Nancy Mett. She was married to Steve Mett another deputy. This is WHY ALL women should insist that their doctors do a blood test called CA125!! I has a terrible scare with the same disease!! Thank God they caught it and now every year this test is done on me. Even after the cancer was removed via hysterectomy you still need to keep it in check. Pass this along to others it CAN save loves. I pray for this woman and her family. This will be the most difficult journey they will ever make!! XOXOXOX

Diana Burfield (BettyShmetty) said...

Penny, thank you for the information. I will post a followup to this post and will include your information. I'm so glad your situation was different...love you!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Maybe it has something to do with being a mom, but I've caught myself wondering "what if" several times. What if something happened to one of us...how would it be. I can't begin to imagine the emotions running through that family. My sister had a friend who suffered from breast cancer for several years. She passed away two years ago leaving her young family behind. I don't know how old you are, but as I reach the end of my 30's, I hear more and more horrible news like this.