When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she was caught completely by surprise. She had not felt the least bit ill.

It was odd explaining to my daughters that their Nana is sick.

She certainly didn’t look sick.

As time went on, the chemo treatments did what the cancer had not – they made her feel incredibly ill. It’s surreal, watching the nurses don smocks and gloves to protect themselves from accidental contact with the very concoction that will soon course through my mother’s veins (and believe me I don’t blame them one bit).

“We aren’t supposed to come into direct contact with it,” the nurse explains without a touch of irony as she hooks the bag of poison up to my mother’s chest.

I’ve had to explain to my girls that it is the medicine that is making Nana sick….but it is going to make her better. I’ve reassured them that when she stops getting the medicine, she will feel well again.

It’s a bizarre concept, one that I can’t really expect my 8 and 11 year old daughters to understand. Even I have been worried that it isn’t just the chemo.

Mom got really sick last week, so sick that they had to give her a blood transfusion and suspend the chemo protocol for an extra week.

We were all scared by how sick she got, and we felt a mixture of relief and disappointed that her treatments would have to extend a week further into February.

We knew she needed a break, but we all just want it to be over…especially my mother.

In the end, the week “off” ended up being a real gift. She actually had the opportunity to feel well. This is a woman who is accustomed to being in perpetual motion; who never ceases to amaze me with her style, and her passion for do-it-yourself home improvement projects of all sizes.

Lately she has felt winded simply by walking from one room to another. So you can imagine what a wonderful surprise it was when, one morning this week, I walked into her house to find that she had been repainting her living room….changing the wall color and adding an accent color on the fireplace mantle. “I have never liked this wall color – it’s too green….and the fireplace is supposed to be a focal point…and I’m finally going to put in a gas insert,” she announced, pleased with herself.

In that moment I could have cried from relief and joy.  To see that it was actually true, what I’d told my girls. It really was the chemo that was making her feel so sick, and she will feel better when it’s over (and the tests show it’s working, too).

Yesterday she started back up again with the chemo. Two more treatments spread over four weeks. We know what to expect this time. We know it will take all of her strength to get to the other side of this.  It’ll be an all-hands-on-deck kind of month – or at least a one-hand-on-deck at all times kind of month.

She will not have to do this particular “improvement” project herself. 

I have no doubt she will get back to her (no doubt, serious) DIY backlog when all of this is behind her.

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Cheers to that.

 

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