Thursday, 9 October 2014

My Mother Has Brain Cancer

Have you heard about Brittany Maynard, the 29 year old with brain cancer who is choosing assisted suicide on Nov. 1st?  She fears that otherwise "I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.  I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family."

I just came from the Hospice where my mother moved two days ago.  She too has brain cancer, and her prognosis is similar to Brittany's.  Like Brittany fears, my mother could and is "suffering personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind".  And yet - how I treasure EACH moment with her.  Let me tell you a bit about our day:

This morning I read to her.  For a whole year after she was diagnosed she kept a journal where she wrote down what she was grateful for every day.  I had brought it from home, and with my dad listening on we reminisced about all the memories she had captured.  She listened on with a smile on her sweet face and chimed in now and again with details of the day.  

Later in the afternoon the nurses helped move her into a wheelchair and we walked out to the gardens.  It was a crisp fall day with bright blue sky.  We had quite the little entourage, with my dad, brother and cousin (hobbling around on crutches!), my husband with our 8 month old in a baby carrier and our two year old speeding by on a scooter.  There were geese in a nearby field and we all smiled and breathed in the fresh air.  We had nothing but time.  Later she said this was the best part of her day.

In the evening I came back and as the PSW's got her all ready for bed, I set up the DVD player with the movie we had rented.  We had our kleenex boxes ready as we'd heard it was a tearjerker.  I pulled the couch in her room right up beside her bed, and we ate the chocolates she keeps stashed in her top drawer while we watched.  We could hardly hear it, and even with the subtitles on the plot was escaping us.  But the movie was really just as excuse to be together.  Months ago we would have stayed up late, but today about 40 minutes in she suggested we finish it tomorrow.  The nurse came in to help get her all set up for bed and I kissed her goodnight, we'll plan to finish the film tomorrow.

How many days like this will Brittany Maynard rob her family of?  Is this the "nightmare" she desires to protect them from?  Yes today was a good day.  They aren't always so lovely, and I know they will likely get harder.  But I've come to see that the hard times are always interspersed with moments of joy - and those are what we need to hold on to.  My sweet, wise mother has taught me, more in the last month than ever before, that we can be thankful no matter WHAT the circumstance.  I pray for us, that God would continue to give us strength, joy and peace throughout this trial. And I pray the same for Brittany and her family - that she would not have a spirit of fear, but that she would be thankful for every day, every moment that God gives her on this earth.
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