09 March 2009

No Wire in the Blood

As Mom and I walked into the Northwest Georgia Oncology and Blood Disorder Center last Thursday, my palms were soaking wet. I was trying to act cool, carrying in my nearly-read copy of Watchmen, avoiding the magazine rack full of cancer-related reading material, and trying not to make eye contact with those who had arrived for chemotherapy treatments. I felt that if I looked at anything having to do with cancer I would jinx my mother. So, I focused on my book, my heartbeat, and little else.

When we were called back, I quickly glanced at the people sitting in the treatment room, and there he was. A man no older, but most definitely younger, than me. He calmly sat in a large chair with an IV in his arm and a bag of the foulest stuff imaginable connected directly to his vein. And I quickly looked down at the scuffed, well-worn floor because I just couldn't do it. I couldn't look him in the eyes knowing that just a quirk of blood or DNA or cell-growth or something, separated us. I realized that I'm a coward while he? Was amazingly brave.

As the doctor walked in, she looked at me with confusion in her eyes, and I explained who I was and that this was my appointment. And that I wanted, needed, to know Does my mother have leukemia? You need to test her for cancer, because I don't believe your diagnosis of anemia. Because I may not be a doctor, but I am her daughter and I absolutely, positively, have to know.

And right there, in the span of ten minutes, the doctor explained that my mother's white blood cell count is normal and nowhere near the high levels leukemia patients have, that Mom's anemia hasn't worsened but that the doctor has been adjusting Mom's iron infusions to find her best fit, that there are other chronic anemics who come in monthly for iron infusions and that is how you deal with it, how I need not worry.

To say I breathed a deep sigh of relief is an understatement. It was then I realized that I was not ready for the worst-case scenario I had been imagining for nearly a week. I may never be ready when the health of any of my loved ones begins to fail.

But last week? This chronic pessimist became a little more optimistic when I discovered my Mom is none the worse for wear.

I also realized that I have a deep-seeded fear of dying, specifically dying from cancer, that I need to deal with. It's going to be a long row to hoe.


Merrily Down the Stream said...

Glad she's OK. Have a friend who is not. I am HATING it.

sybil law said...

I am so, so relieved for you - and her!!!
Breathe easy....

Avitable said...

I'm glad to hear that she's okay.

RiverPoet said...


I'm so happy that it's not cancer, but I can understand the worry. My Dad's entire family (except for a couple) were wiped out by cancer. Same thing on Mom's side, with a little heart disease thrown in for good measure. I figure someday (unless I have some beautiful genetic quirk) I'll end up dealing with the poison in a bag. What the heck. We all have to go sometime.

Love ya, girl - D

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness, I'm so glad to hear it's nothing serious! I'm sure it's a huge weight off your shoulders.

Anonymous said...

Well, YAY!

My mother didn't tell me about her breast cancer until after her raditation treatments were done (I was in India).

By the time I got back she was well and healthy, so thank god I didn't know. I would have been a wreck.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

I am glad she is fine, and I am glad you are able to take a breath. One day at a time, hon. It's too overwhelming if you don't.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Merrily - Oh, hon. I'm so sorry. :(

Sybil Law - Definitely breathing better.

Avitable - Thanks, hon.

RiverPoet - You know, my family is the same way. And I think that's why I'm afraid of it because I've watched it and the process scares the piss out of me.

Giggle Pixie - It is. Thanks, hon!

Duck - Wow. She is hard-core.

NATUI - You know it!

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear she is OK :)

Cancer sucks. Period. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Jud said...

Very good news about your mother. My sister was diagnosed with leukemia in October of last year, and it has been a difficult time. She is 43. Last week she found 2 bone marrow matches on the national registry, so hopefully she can soon have a transplant and perhaps this will cure her.

I do understand your fears, and the sense of helplessness as you wait to learn the results of test after test.

Faiqa said...

I'm so glad.

Jeni said...

The family medical history my kids had handed down to them is atrocioius! Both my parents died of cancer; my ex-husband's father died of cancer; a brother of my dad's, a sister of my mom's also died of cancer and yet another aunt -my dad's baby sister had colo-rectal cancer and colostomy at age 75-76 but went on to live an additional 15-16 years till her demise a year ago mainly from dementia issues though. So yes, I can fully relate to being terrified od contracting cancer for much of my life. That is until six years ago this month when I was given a diagnosis of colo-rectal cancer myself and three months later, my es was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma! As you can see, I'm still around, still kicking, still loud as ever. So is my ex too, for that matter.
And that fear I had of cancer -would you believe it disappeared the day I was diagnosed? Well -maybe not 100% but at least 90-95 percent it went away. It had to go because otherwise it would have been a hindrance to my recovery!
Worry is not a good thing and worry that becomes that kind of fear is even worse for one's system. Just take things as they come at you and you can deal with, fight off too, just about anything!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

MommyCosm - Agreed.

Jud - So glad she found matches. That's the definite step in the right direction!

Faiqa - Me, too.

Jeni - Well, I did get over my fear of needles by having to inject myself with hormones. But, I don't think I'm ready for cancer. Nope. Not ready to get over that fear.

Gypsy said...

I'm sure I'll never be ready. And I'm glad you don't have to be ready right now.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Gypsy - Me, too.