Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Woman In The Blue Chemo Cap

I heard the squeaky wheel and looked up from my knitting.  That squeaky wheel was a familiar sound to me.  You see, my mother had one just like it.  The woman who was generating that noise, well actually the noise wasn’t coming directly from her, but from an appendage that she was obviously struggling to maneuver, appeared to be in her 80’s.
She was coming out of the door with the “Chemo Infusion? Come Right In” sign.  She was accompanied by her daughter.  I knew it was her daughter because of the conversation they were having.  The daughter was trying to explain to her mother that they needed to hurry because she(the daughter) had an appointment that she couldn’t be late for.
I could tell by the annoyed tone of her voice that the daughter had obviously reached her patience limit.
That tone was also familiar to me.  I remember using it with my mother.
My mother was ill for about a year with cancer before she passed away.  She refused chemo but reluctantly agreed to radiation treatments.
I remember one treatment day in particular.  It was raining very hard.  We had to coax her to go that day.  It was like dealing with a child.  She was being very stubborn and didn’t want to go.
“Whyyy do I haaff to go?” she whined.
We finally managed to convince her that she should go and got her and her walker (the squeaky wheeled appendage) settled into the car.
She complained all the way to the treatment center.  When we got there, she didn't want to get out of the car.   That’s when I reached my patience limit.  The image I have in my memory of that day is  me holding the umbrella over our heads with one hand and my other hand on her back trying to get her to hurry while she tried to maneuver her squeaky wheeled walker.
Watching this other mother and daughter not only triggered that recollection,  it also made me wince as I witnessed the behavior of the daughter.  I felt like I was on a journey with the Ghost of Cancer past.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of this other mother.  She reminded me so much of my mother during her battle with cancer.  My mother and this mother both had that same far-a-way look in their eyes.  I wonder if this other mother also questioned why she should have to endure the painful side effects of such an uncomfortable treatment at this stage of her life.
Ross and I cared for my mother in our home during the last few months of her life.  Most of the time I was very caring and patient with her.  But the memory of the one or two times I lost my patience is what is etched in my memory.
Two months after my mother passed away, my son Joe was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.
The grief of losing my mother was put on hold and apparently buried deep.
Seeing this woman yesterday, who reminded me so much of my mother, opened up the flood gates of my grief over the loss of my mother.
I realized how much I need her now and I realized how much I miss her.
As much as I might have wanted to, I just couldn’t manage a Lynda spy cam(era) moment.  I think, though, that I will always remember this woman’s face, her walker and especially the blue chemo cap she wore.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.
Here are the past days entries from Anna's diary:
Mon. September 16, 1929
Jean back to work today.  Didn't feel so well so stayed in bed nearly all day.  Jean home for supper.  Drover to Cousin Maggie after supper to collect for policy.  Peg came later.
Tues. September 17, 1929
Peg stayed over-night.  Brought Junior to 360.  Went downtown.  Had lunch in Kresges.  Peg bought a dress and shoes and bag.  Came home early.  Club met at Elsie's at night.
Wed.  September 18, 1929
Peg treated Bill and I to lunch at Bamberger's [Bill is Anna's brother] and to see "Good News" at Shubert.  Went to 360 for supper.  Home early.  Very cold out and bed early.
Thurs. September 19, 1929
Peg back to work today and is starting Barringer tonight.  Charlotte here for laundry.  Made furnace.  Quite cold.  Jennie P visited me all day.  Left when Jean came home.
Friday, September 20, 1929
Home in morning.  Met Jewel for lunch.  Couldn't shop.  Felt very melancholy. Came home.  Went to Elsies.  Had a crying spell.  Felt terribly blue and despondent.  Bed early.


  1. Hugs to you! Cancer is the one word that sends dread to my soul. As you know my hubby died from it, and now my nephew age 8 is undergoing chemo (2nd year of it) I have had chats with my brother about caregiving and doing the best as you can. I think everyone thinks they will always be patient and strong, but being human we can only do our best. I just said a prayer your mom and for your son.. You are remarkable and strong and by sharing your stories, you help people going through similar things and you may not know how much you help them.

    1. Yes, Winnie, I am so sorry that you too are all too familiar with the evil that is cancer. It is horrible that your nephew has this horrible disease. Kids can be so brave. I will keep him in my thoughts.
      Thank you for you prayers and kinds words. I hope you know how much they mean to me.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Larissa. Every hug and kind thought are so appreciated by me.

  3. I wish I had something good to say. I can't find much good in the ugliness that is cancer. Too many people that I know are trying to take care of a person with cancer and I see the caretakers giving it their best fight and yet still beating themselves up for not being the perfect caretaker. That sucks just as much as the cancer patient having to deal with the treatments. Please be kind to yourself, Lynda.

    1. Thanks JT. The kindest I think I can be to myself is to to get past the painful memories of the illness stages of those I have lost. Hopefully someday...

  4. my mother didn't have cancer but an auto-immune system disorder that affected her organs, including her brain. as you say, they become a child again. we are, after all, only human, Lynda. patience does have its limits and i have a few memories like yours of losing my temper and always regretting it. i remember thinking one time, "why won't she let me take care of her?" who was acting like a child then?

    i have said before that i cannot imagine your grief over losing your son, and to have it come so soon after your mother's death? my heart goes out to you. i hope you are able to mourn for the loss of them both now. and do please be kind to yourself! *hugs*


  5. Hi Dani,
    Thank you for your kind words. I am sorry that you suffered such a loss with your mother. Someday I hope to remember my mom and my son with a smile instead of a tear.

  6. Those deeply buried emotions have a way of coming back full-force, don't they? Thinking of you and admiring your strength and courage as always.