another anniversary

Think of how fast a year can pass.  A flip of a page, the flapping of migratory birds, the relentless return of liquor-soaked annual traditions, punctuated by “I can’t believe its been a year!”

And yes, a year can also be so full of heartbreak it draws out into eternity.

They say the first anniversaries after a loss are the worst (I’m not sure who “they” is, but they are always wise and insightful).  The anniversary today is of my mom’s CT scan.

retroperitoneal masses from lymphoma.


Tests are just tests.  They are often wrong.  They are often misleading.  They don’t dictate who lives and who dies.  They simply provide information, which sometimes doesn’t even matter.  But this particular CT scan gave information that really did matter– it told the story of a drug resistant lymphoma.  If you are unfortunate enough to develop cancer, your best hope is you have a cancer that responds well to treatment, and my mom lost on that roll of the dice. In fact, she ended up on bad side of the odds at every turn in her cancer journey.  Patients aren’t often told “you have an 80 percent chance of cure!” at diagnosis and are dead the next calender year.

The February CT scan results were the turning point where it became apparent that she, in short, was screwed. It would have been better not to know, but I knew. 

In the following months,  I wish I had laughed more, had more fun with her, falsely comforted by a belief that everything would be okay, because it HAD to be.  Instead, I was bottled up with fear, the unfortunate daughter with too much medical knowlege. 

Many people have told me that my experience in cancer care helped my mom so much, and I know at certain junctions it did. However it also hurt me, and maybe her as well.  Hope is so important, and one year ago I lost it.

3 thoughts on “another anniversary

  1. John Shiner

    I remember Dr Schulman’s expression of sorrow when she told us about that scan. It was a very short meeting and she was emotionally affected by the news of continued tumor growth and said she was unable to give us any further treatment — we would need to go elsewhere. Nel and I didn’t recognize it as a death sentence at the time. We knew it wasn’t good but we still had lots of hope.

    As I try to rationalize how we lived with Nel the next 10 months, I wish we were more focused on “Let’s enjoy today” and less on “Hold onto hope and fight hard”. We did a few good things but the stress of moving 4! times during the 18 months, the stress of Houston, the stress of the constant decline in strength, the institutional insults of hours of waiting, the outrageous rude/crude urologists and uncertain schedule from 7am to 10pm — all that and we weren’t a very cheerful group.

  2. Capt. Savage

    Hi, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve shared the love by nominating you for the Liebster Award, because I really like your blogs. If you go to my page, you’ll see what it is. Feel free to accept and post on your page or not, it is really up to you. If you accept, see for the rules. She sets it out so much better than I ever could. Happy blogging 🙂

    Capt. Savage
    (Officer and gentleman, well sometimes)


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