Epiphany's Mantra

i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
-e.e. cummings

8.15.2009

The Oxygen Tank

Part One
By Epiphany

I wish I could say that this blog entry is about diving and feeling that wonderful emotion of freedom you get while swimming deep under the sea. It isn't. It is actually about a much deeper subject. One of great sadness and love, of pain and of loss.

My story begins today at a friend's co-op BBQ. It was loads of fun and I didn't feel so bad about crashing it after a couple of drinks of soda that is. Laughing and chasing the children around, I fell into my chair out of breath and noticed something odd. There was a lady sitting across the courtyard with a wide brim hat and sunglasses that seemed to wrap around her face. I thought this was such a strange look for a lady of her maturity, so I squinted and blinked repeatedly to get a closer look. I then realized she was not wearing wrap around sunglasses but regular glasses and a tube in her nose. Disbelieving my eyes, I immediately looked to the ground below her. It was there, the dreaded oxygen tank, sitting inconspicuously on the floor.

I was immediately taken back to the year 1986. Transported to a time in which I have spent many years trying to forget. Like a bad movie, I forgot my lines and couldn't even hear the people around me; 1986 was the year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors felt that they had caught it in time. But, my mother, a hard working, sweet lady and a by the way, a smoker was told she had to have surgery - Yes the dreaded mastectomy. Little did I know, she knew the year before that something was not right, but refused to give it any credit.

I did my very best to help. I had to grow up fast and make sure she was comfortable. It was my last year in school and even though my straight A's went downhill, my thoughts revolved around that nasty little nightmare called Cancer. I got a job, which barely paid for anything and took care of my little brother. He was always fed, clothed and made it to school on time, everyday.

My grandmother came one month before commencements and thank goodness because I really didn't want to repeat the 12th grade. She was able to help me greatly and I felt like a teenager again, at least for a couple of hours. We celebrated my graduation and then the dreaded day came. One of the breast had to go and the left one was our big winner.

I didn't understand then what it meant to lose a part of your body, especially a breast. I was not that attached to mine at the time. For a woman it is like losing your femininity and it must have been a tough decision for my mum to go through with that surgery. Accordingly, she put on a brave face and went all the way. I waited home impatiently of course, comforting my brother and faking a smile. I am not sure he really understood and I was not about to explain it. The day dragged on and on forever and then by midday my grandmother finally called with good news.

Mummy returned home and we handled her with kid gloves. My brother and I tip-toed around and were the quietest we ever were in our lives. Recovery would take some time and we had to have patience. As I found out later, the doctors removed the left breast and a few lymph nodes. These nodes were tested and the results came back as benign. We were all happy and we finally felt at ease, but it was not to last for very long.

to be continued.

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