Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Birthday Blog To Grandma

The word cancer strikes fear in the heart of any person, male or female, young or old. My mother cared for a husband with lung cancer that had spread to his heart. He made it for a year, beating the doctor's three month prediction. Shortly after his passing, we got more bad news. My grandmother was diagnosed with uterine cancer, but the prognosis was good. With surgery, she may not need any other treatments. Grandma took it in stride. The surgery was successful and the battle had been won.

My grandmother is not your milk and cookies type of grandma. She raised horses, rode in the rodeos and drove a big truck with a lead foot. Grandma embraced life, hard life. To her, it's the only kind. Her strength was sometimes her weakness. I don't know of a day that she didn't work to earn her living and when she wasn't working, she was taking care of the homestead. She always told me she learned her lessons the hard way.

You can imagine our surprise and dismay when they found she had breast cancer and surgery wouldn't magically take care of this one. My grandmother didn't even call me. She told my mom and said she wanted no one else to know. By now, her husband had passed away and she was alone. My mother finally told me a year after the diagnosis because Grandma was coming to visit. I had a million questions. I wanted to know her treatment, her diet, everything. Mom told me to ask her about it. And you can bet I did.

"It's nothing, Kristi, I do chemotherapy treatments and I'm eating better and exercising." She laughed. "Hell, I'm even taking some damn shark cartilage pills."

"Nothing? Grandma, what about radiation? What about those Cancer Centers I see on TV?" I was in tears and hated to see her so aloof about the whole situation.

"Every case is different and every person is different. The chemo is bad enough, I'll kill myself if I go through radiation." She paused and touched my cheek. "Cancer centers are for people with more money, people that have it worse off than me. I'm just fine, you'll see."

We found out six months later it was gone. She's kept her regular follow up appointments and so far we are happy to say that she has been cancer free for five years.

I couldn't imagine the pain, the confusion, anger, hurt, FEAR of hearing those words uttered to me. However, because of my grandmother, I know I could face it head on like she did. I'm so proud to say she has celebrated many, many birthdays.

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