Why I let my niece be our featured writer on cancer?

January 6, 2017

I will admit I completely changed my mind about this Why Letter. I read a post by my sister Kandi this morning and decided to just steal it and use it as my Why Letter. Why would I do such a thing? Well, I figured if I had to start off the day crying like a baby, you should too.

What does this have to do with HelpMommy.com and the Why Letter series? Well, we will all encounter an experience with cancer. It may be your parents, you, your spouse or God forbid your child. It will effect you in ways that you will never understand. In the process you will ask the question Why? I don’t even pretend to know all the answers of why my sister had breast cancer or why my dad had to die from breast cancer, but I do have a few. My Dad’s cancer changes all of his children and at least for myself gave me a perspective on cancer that changed the way I practice medicine. As far as my sister having breast cancer it stimulated her and my wife to develop a non-profit. Through that they sell and donate and a specially designed shirt for women undergoing mastectomies. That opportunity is a silver lining in a dark, inky space. We may not see the answer at the time, but somehow, somewhere there is an answer to Why? K’Lee is my niece and she was instructed to write a letter to her old self from her present self. Welcome to your daily cry.

 

Dear K’Lee,

Chemo is the devil. It will break down the women you love in ways you didn’t know possible. She’s going to cry a lot over losing her hair, just remember to tell her she’s beautiful every chance you get. Even though it’s ugly. It’s so incredibly ugly to see the hair you use to play with as a child fall in clumps to the floor. Her memory isn’t going to be what it used to be and it wasn’t that good in the first place. She’s going to forget entire conversations, sometimes important conversations. But you can’t let that get under your skin. Your mom is still there, hidden under distant eyes. She’s going to ask you to be a grown up without ever saying a word, even though you just want to be a kid. You’ll just want to curl up and put your head on her chest, but fresh wounds won’t let that happen. Suddenly, you are your own mom, you’re your mom’s caregiver, your little brother’s constant babysitter. Eventually it won’t hurt your heart so much when you hear her vomit, but you’ll never get used to hearing her cry. Just be strong for her. Choke back your tears until you’re done taking care of her. Her heart is hurting as bad as her body and it hurts her even more to see you hurt. She’s gonna spend a lot of the time at the doctor and when she asks you to go chemo .com with her, prepare yourself. The room is cold and everywhere you look is someone’s mother, someone’s sister, someone’s daughter with a needle shoved so far into their skin or port or what have you. And its all just poison. You’re gonna watch your mother volunteer to have poison dumped into her veins. It’s as painful to see as the first time you saw her after her double mastectomy. Everyone is going to tell you “it’s going to be okay” and it’s going to make you so incredibly angry. You’re gonna say “how do they know?” or “when, when will it be okay?” But don’t get so angry. Don’t get angry at ungrateful daughters who don’t appreciate their mothers, they don’t know what they have. Don’t be angry at the world, it didn’t cause it. Don’t be angry at God, He’s the only one who can save her. And finally, don’t push away the people that love you because you’re scared of losing the woman you love most of all. Don’t lock yourself in your bedroom and try to hide from it. Look at it. Be around it. Let it soak into your bones until all you can do is taste it. Just don’t run away. No one said it was going to be easy, and if they do, they don’t know anything. Cancer has a face, K’Lee. You need to know that face is your mother’s. They don’t tell you about that stuff. All the websites and blogs will only tell you medical terms and psychological facts. But they don’t tell you that cancer and chemo takes over your mother’s body like a poltergeist possession. But K’Lee, it will be okay, eventually. Nothing will ever be the same, ever. But it will get better.

Love,

K’Lee