Today is the day that I am as old as Mom was when she died. It’s been on my mind for a while, but especially this week. It is hard to imagine dying, right now, and hard to imagine my mother facing death at this age. I have so many plans for the future, so much I want to do. I wonder at what point Mom stopped planning. I wonder at what point she realized that planning was useless.
She had metastatic breast cancer for six years. Every time it came back, she fought it. But in December 1995, she didn’t want to fight anymore. My youngest brother begged her to try. It wasn’t what she wanted, but for him, she said she would. She would try. But she never got that far; the cancer was too much, too quickly filling her body, too everywhere.
So it is the day that I am as old as she was when she left us. I catch myself thinking, “This is the day Mom died.” It’s not, of course, but at times this week, the grief has been as fresh as it was in 1995. Why did Mom have to die, and I get to live? I’ve often wondered if her love for us was such that she would bargain with God; that she would take all the breast cancer so we would be free of it.
So sad to think of all this. If I wallow in it, I might drown. But I am alive! I AM ALIVE! I do have a genetic mutation in the BRCA2 gene that makes me more susceptible to breast cancer, at a risk of as much as 80%. I got this mutation from Mom. Mom never had the chance to get genetics testing. Now we have that opportunity, and I did get tested. Then came the hard choice to let go of my breasts. They are gone now, as of August 16, 2019. I chose prophylactic (preventive) mastectomies. I am cancer free, and now much less likely to get breast cancer than the general population.
This is good news! Maybe Mom would have lived a long life if she’d had the chance to get tested, and to have surgery in advance of cancer. Maybe this is the answer to my mother’s prayers. I spent the morning sad, but I am grateful now. I am grateful to be alive and cancer free. I am grateful for the chance to continue in health for a long long time. I am grateful for my mother’s prayers.