Yesterday my grandma had a cancerous lump removed from her breast. This is the second time she’s had breast cancer and she’s had at least one more type of cancer that was removed/treated successfully and possibly another on top of that. Needless to say, she is no stranger to these types of procedures and diagnoses. Thankfully everything went better than expected. The lump was removed and from what I understand, it had not spread to her lymph nodes so they didn’t need to removed any of them. She even went home yesterday afternoon and felt well enough that she didn’t need anyone to spend the night with her. A visit on Friday will determine any sort of radiation or follow up treatment.
Every time we get the news that she has cancer it’s a bit of shock at first. My grandma is a very active woman and besides these big diagnoses, she’s very healthy. She swims a few times a week. She quilts and crochets and is the main caregiver for my grandpa who is mostly home bound and diabetic. She shouldn’t be getting cancer (for that matter, no one should).
Even more is the way she delivers the news. It’s relayed in an offhand way that gives the distinct impression that this is no big deal. Just another day with another surgery to remove some not so serious lump from her body. I don’t need to go into the statistics of breast cancer. I don’t need to remind anyone that some aren’t as lucky as my grandma to have it diagnosed at a time where a lumpectomy and maybe some radiation are all that is needed for treatment. I do want to tell this to my grandma to make her take this seriously. She isn’t getting any younger and come on! It’s surgery! Surgery is serious! However, this is the third, if not fourth, time she’s gone through this. Each of the previous bouts have obviously turned out fine, so to her it might just be another lump that needs to be cut out. Or maybe there is another reason…
This time around is a little different for me too. I’m a mom now and in order for my grandma to be a grandma she had to be a mom first. And I get it. I get why she is so calm and collected about it. I get why it’s just another day. I get why she waits until she absolutely has to tell her kids (and grandkids) bad news. As a mom, you do what needs to be done to protect your children from pain, injury, and harm of any kind. You say, and more importantly, believe, that things will work out for the best. They have to. When life gives you lemons, what else is there to do but make lemonade? Or lemon bars…or lemon meringue pie…you just make the best of it.
I feel I’ve always been sensitive to how my actions affected others, but since becoming a parent it’s transformed into a super power. And I can’t imagine, however old my little boy gets, thinking of him as anything other than my little boy. The one I fed and changed and cared for when he couldn’t care for himself. I know I’m going to always want to shield him from negativity, whatever that might be. Additionally, I now understand that just because my grandma brushed this off like it’s no big deal, doesn’t mean that it really was. She was probably scared and worried exactly like we all were. But as the mom, you think you have to be the strong one for everyone else. Weakness is the single most difficult thing for me to admit and I will go to great lengths before I do. When I talked to my grandma today on the phone, I wanted to go visit, but I’m getting over a cold and thought staying away would be better, she was nothing but positive. She felt good, much better than expected and was happy to be able to go about her life with this little lump behind her. I was reassured and didn’t feel as bad for not going to visit and help her with what she needed. After I hung up, I was taken aback. I do this, I do this all the time telling people that things are good when maybe they aren’t. Brushing off help when I know it would inconvenience that person to help me. I had just been schooled by the master. After all she has a few more years doing the mom thing than I do.
Grandma and I a few years ago when I visited her in Texas. We went across the border and got margaritas!
Today I’m just really thankful for my grandma and her good outcome. I’m thankful she is there for me to call and visit. I hate that I’m reminded by a stupid cancerous lump that I need to make time to visit her and grandpa more. Life is precious and shouldn’t be taken for granted as it is much too easily. So take a moment to hug the ones you love, find a minute to pick up the phone to make some plans for a visit or send a text to let them know you are thinking about them, you won’t be sorry.