It feels strange to say, but it’s probably frequently true all around, but my mom having stage 4 cancer has brought us closer. At least, as close as I get to people in some ways.
I’ve written and deleted more blog posts about her in the past year than I can even think about. She is… as is a Clancy sort of trait… very stubborn. And for the past few years since my dad passed, she’s been very into alternative medicine, mostly driven by a sort of, kind of, not really boyfriend she had who was one of those quack Chiropractors who say things like, “Your childhood misery is why your gall bladder is irritated and I can fix that if you soak your feet in this expensive bath.”
And look, whatever gets you through the day. I found his approach irritating because he was taking money from people who were sick to sell them a bill of goods. But whatever. It’s their money and they’re grown ass adults. Sometimes a positive feeling is better than anything Big Pharma can brew up, and if people felt like they were getting their money’s worth, fine. I can’t say I loved it, but it wasn’t really any of my business.
Except that… my mom was pretty desperate to flash LED lights in my face to heal me of my migraines. Or sell me on expensive vitamins I was just going to piss out. She would buy them, so she wasn’t trying to scam me. She was just, you know, trying to help… in possibly the most exasperating way possible.
Anyone with long term illness can tell you that most caring people will try to heal you. They will offer everything from what worked for their great aunt to something they read online. I mostly take it in stride. People aren’t offering remedies to be dicks, they’re genuinely nice people who aren’t trying to sell you anything, usually. They just want to help.
But dear god, does it get old.
Anyway, my mom, with the desperation of a born again evangelical, tried to push every home remedy from colloidal silver, to foot baths, to some weird pair of glasses with lights in that flashed in some sort of sequence that was supposed to “program” your brain back into some natural order. That gave me a migraine.
Now she is on her more or less final path of this life, stage 4 cancer is a hell of a diagnosis to hear. She has 8 brothers and sisters and many friends. She had to tell her story to a lot of people and the reactions ran the gamut. My best friend at the time died at age 30 on stage 4 cancer. We had many frank discussions about how she felt, so I had some ideas at least on what NOT to say, but I’ll be honest, “How much processed food were you eating? Oh, you made yourself sick with that,” wasn’t among them.
It was something that, at the time, had occurred to my mom. Now that she’s on the other end of that, she’s realizing how horrible it is to hear. I wasn’t the only one my mom was trying to push the unwanted medical attention on, and believe me, I get a bit of the schadenfreude they’re experiencing. It’s not nice, but I get it. We’re just human, and she could get kind of nasty about things without meaning to.
When we were talking, I steeled myself to accept whatever therapy she was going to want to pursue. She told me she went with the chemo because she felt I’d push her toward that anyway. It genuinely surprised her when I told her that I would support her in whatever treatment she chose.
I’m relieved she’s going the traditional chemo route. But, I also know it can be really rough and that for some people it becomes a quality of life issue.
I have to say, now that she’s dropped pushing that alternative medicine stuff on me, she’s pleasant to talk to again. I’m sad that it took this to get there with her again, but I’m glad that I’m someone she can call when she is tired of being lectured to by friends and family.
I could get morbid about it and remind myself that these could be the very last conversations we ever have in this life, but that’s always been true. Cancer can be a fixed point, a definite period at the end of the sentence, but it’s not the only one.
This is the part in the mom blog where I tell everyone to call their moms, but fuck that. I don’t know you or your life. There are ten thousand reasons why calling your mom may not be appropriate for you. If you need a call to action at the end of all of this,try to find the up side of the shit life throws at you. My mom has cancer. It sucks. But now that some of the bullshit’s been dropped, we’re communicating better.