Cancer: Stop and think

I’m sorry to continue with the negative tone of emotions but this one has a happy ending, I promise.

The other night I was getting ready for bed when my mum text me “are you awake?” Now, it was only 9pm so I decided I’d phone her to find out what was wrong. Since it was early, I knew there wasn’t much chance her and my sister had had another argument since they’re normally at silly hours in the morning. That’s what I call silly serious, it’s part of our typical family drama. This was serious-kind-of serious.

She’d found a lump.

Now, my mum’s in her 40s. She drinks, she smokes, she doesn’t go to the gym- though she’s not overweight or anything. Like me, she doesn’t eat a fantastically healthy diet and she’s a very stressed person. I don’t really think anyone could find a justifiable “She’s definitely not got cancer because…”

I knew still, the chances of it actually being breast cancer was rare. It was most likely a cyst or something. Nothing to worry about.

It’s funny, but when cancer’s mentioned no-one involved can really believe “nothing to worry about” try as they might.

If it had been a worst case scenerio then America and my masters degree would have had to be put on hold or thrown out altogether. Though I can’t say I would have appreciated this I can’t say I’d have much choice either: she’s my mum. My sister would have had the opportunity to run out of there, and there would be too much chance that that was exactly what she would do. Our relationship with our mum has never been the most close knit.

And anyway, I’m the eldest. Taking care of the family should never fall on the baby of the group.

All this was flashing through my mind. Suddenly I realised how much of my life would change if my mum was to die. It made me realise how much my life would change if anyone close to me was to be diagnosed with cancer. I mean, working in a pharmacy I get confronted with life threatening illnesses everyday, but you’re detached. I’ve had a lot of friends sadly lose a parent and yet, you never feel like that. You post a sentimental message, you send a jar of jam, you offer a sympathetic shoulder, but then ultimately you move on.

It’s not your problem.

I’m not saying everyone’s being selfish. But the fact is the world carries on turning and time will carry on passing you by. If we all stopped, it wouldn’t matter and it won’t solve anyone’s problems either.

But this was the first time I’d stopped and thought about it. I was being faced with my mum’s mortality, my little sister’s need to be looked after and never mind the dogs and the rabbits. Even when my mum text me yesterday announcing her all clear, the idea still stayed with me. As cliché as it is, life is short. Even if you’re not faced with death, something else could happen which could make you stop and think. Your life could flip in a milli second, a phone call or an email.

Hey, it might be a fantastic kind of flip of course. A promotion, a bonus, a lottery win… But it might be cancer.

But hopefully not.


One thought on “Cancer: Stop and think

  1. Pingback: Pushing People Away | Textbooks and Clichés

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