The Big C

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    Sep 19, 2011 12:14 AM GMT
    Not sure if this really belongs in ALL THINGS GAY, but, really, if you're gay, what thing isn't gay? Plus, I'm too lazy and impatient to find the appropriate category. There isn't one for Family Issues that I can find.
    Or, specifically, for "My mom has cancer."

    Haven't been on RJ all summer, but now that my mom is in remission, I'm slowly returning to my old habits.

    My mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in April. Just 46 years old.
    Beautiful, vibrant, and when it really comes down to it, the love of my life.

    When she told my younger brother and I just after Easter, our dad sat beside her, holding her hand. She remained clear-eyed and focused while we both slowly went into numbed shock. She explained what the doctors had found and explained the procedures she would go through over the next few months.

    Fifteen minutes into it, my dad--the tough-as-nails hard-ass my brother and I both looked up to and respected, broke down and wept at the dining room table.
    I guess this gave both of her sons permission to do the same. The proverbial floodgates opened wide. My mom didn't falter or cry. She just held the three of us big, "strong" men, and continued preparing us for what was lying in store for us.

    She remained the strong one during three LONG months of chemo & radiation and surgeries.

    My brother, who's only 17, still lives at home, and it was in the first month of mom's treatment that I started getting panicked daily calls from him.

    It turns out, we didn't really have to worry about her. She was surrounded by magicians--the only word that seems to fit--the entire oncology staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Mom got to know all of them on a first name basis. They all grew to love her and really seemed to take pleasure in helping her get better.

    It was our Dad who needed OUR help. It took us a while to change our focus from her to him. We just assumed he would continue to be the rock to help us get through this together. Honestly, I didn't really think about him muchvduring the early days of her treatment. But the diagnosis broke him.

    I guess he had this idea or fantasy that life was good and would continue that way until he died, or something. But seeing his reaction and, really, his deterioation really hit me hard. Finally, at the age of 21, I realized my dad was just a human, no bigger or "stronger" than me. That he was lost and confused and in pain. And to expect anything more from him, at this point in my life, is just childish or selfish or something.

    I guess the reason I'm writing about this is to give a head's up to those of you who might be going through something similar with your folks. The one who's sick isn't necessarily the one who needs your help. If my brother hadn't raised the alarm, I never would have known the toll this was having on my dad.

    It took my mom's cancer to help me realize that my parents are just as vulnerable and scared as I sometimes feel myself. That they don't always know the answer and don't always know what to do. And that they will sometimes really rely on us, their grown children, to help them get through tough times.
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    Sep 19, 2011 12:24 AM GMT
    Sorry about your mother & what she's going through. I had colon cancer in late 2002 to 03. Then my best friend died from stage 4 lung cancer in 09
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    Sep 19, 2011 12:41 AM GMT
    Yeah, I guess it's something we all go through at one point in our lives: realizing our parents are really just people trying to make their way through life as best as they can. BIg sloppy kiss from The Rock!!
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    Sep 19, 2011 12:44 AM GMT
    Good and wise post. Those around the person diagnosed are often more broken, emotionally.

    Sounds like your mom is really something else! Welcome back to you... and her!
  • mv03

    Posts: 201

    Sep 19, 2011 12:53 AM GMT
    Touching post. Glad your mom is doing better, and she has had great support in all areas.
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    Sep 19, 2011 1:52 AM GMT
    TheGuyNextDoor saidVery well written post! This just goes to show that our parents will one day rely on their kids as we relied on them as children to do everything for us.
    A few years back, my father was also diagnosed with cancer, yet stayed very strong and unemotional about it till the day he beat it himself.

    Not even a year past and my mom had even a harder time. 3 surgeries later and now she's better than ever.
    Both act and look very fit for adults in their early 70's.
    I too had to be the strong son and come stay with my Dad during all 3 surgeries and help keep his mind off the fact we could lose her, due to the intensity of the surgeries.
    As a tight family we grew even closer and learned no matter what, we could always rely on each other.
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    About a year after all 3 surgeries on Mother's Day, last May. 73 and fit as could be ; )
    BTW.. there's no color in her hair.. I hope to keep the dark gene alive on my mop as well...
    Congrats again on your Mom's success! That's awesome...icon_cool.gif


    Both of your mops look great!
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    Sep 19, 2011 1:59 AM GMT
    I miss her cooking! Get me an invite when she's feeling up to it. I'll bring non-Greek wine and my charm.
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    Sep 19, 2011 2:07 AM GMT
    Really sorry to hear about your mother's pain and how it affected you and your family. I'm glad to hear that she is doing much better as is your brother and father. It is clear from your post that she has a wonderful personality and is a beautiful person overall. This difficult time in your lives has brought you all closer in the end. All the best man.
  • Thirdbeach

    Posts: 1364

    Sep 19, 2011 2:27 AM GMT
    Good to hear that your Mother is all right.
    I am sure she took comfort from having two sons to help her through the cancer.

    I know I'll be a total basket case when my Mother declines.
    (She's 70 and still doing great, my Dad however.)
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    Sep 19, 2011 2:33 AM GMT

    That's pretty wonderful stuff Danforth, thanks for sharing.

    Hey Tony; Hi from My Mom to yours!

    -Doug
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    Sep 19, 2011 3:28 AM GMT
    Parkdaleboy saidI miss her cooking! Get me an invite when she's feeling up to it. I'll bring non-Greek wine and my charm.


    I'll be your date. I'll bring my amazing non-Greek good looks.
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    Sep 19, 2011 3:49 AM GMT
    Thanks for sharing your story. You've no doubt helped a lot of guys here realize some issues parents and children face when faced with serious illness. I hope for the very best for your parents, and you as well.

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    Sep 19, 2011 10:29 PM GMT
    theantijock said:

    "...Learning now that you can be there for your parents, just like they've been there for you, is a lesson nobody should have to learn so young: The secret should still be safe."

    That's exactly how I felt with regards to my brother. I felt so bad that this 17 year old was having to stay in during his summer break to look after my dad while mom was in the hospital. Have I mentioned how much I HATE cancer?

    "From an E-mail I received last night from my 82 year old dad, talking about an operation he requires...

    "Am nervous as hell about it but guess its better than not doing it and eventually going blind...The "Golden Years " of getting old ----Bull s***. Don't believe it !!!"

    That reminds me of an interview I once read with the late, great film critic, Pauline Kael. The guy asked her if she was finding "old age" to be be a liberating stage of life. Her one word reply: "BALLS!" LOL

    Thanks a lot, AntiJock!
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    Sep 20, 2011 2:37 PM GMT
    Time to watch some Bette Davis.

    I suggest the following very strongly:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlldAcTyKiw&feature=BFa&list=PLA21250E13EE3B153&lf=results_main

    tumblr_le1eh63MOq1qarjnpo1_500.jpg
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Sep 20, 2011 3:17 PM GMT
    Sorry to hear about your sad news regarding your mother and family,etc.Glad to hear she`s on the mend.

    I`ve had a similar experience these last few months.

    My youngest sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April.Surgery was ruled out immediately and chemotherapy was the main treatment.But even so the cancer was terminal.With a good response my sister could expect to live another six to twelve months at maximum.

    The family rallied round,especially her son and daughter and many plans,etc. were made.The doctors and nurses and hospital were exemplary.Sadly,things didn`t go well and she died in early August.I still can`t accept it`s happened somehow and overwhelmed by grief at times.We had similar times of two big men sobbing their hearts out in the hospital as the nurses stood by unused to such displays of emotion.Both of us were close to her in our own ways.

    The striking thing thing was her son,who`s worked for years in the oil/mineral prospecting industry as a rigger and supervisor out in the Far East-a pretty hard and dangerous world-was hyper optimistic and practical at first,couldn`t do enough for his mother(took four months off work to be with her).But as the end approached,he completely broke down and was unable to do much towards the end.I had to be there and help him all the way to the end and beyond;even feed him sometimes.I was really surprised how he reacted to the situation.But when it`s your mother,even the toughest guys are not so strong.It brought back all sorts of memories from my own mother`s death.

    I wasn`t close to my nephew,but his mother`s passing has brought us all closer and made the family fights seem rather unimportant in the long run.
    My advice now to you would to be there for your mum and dad and brother and always let them know you love them.Your parents were there for you when you were young.You never know what`s coming.
    Best wishes,
    John.
  • Lincsbear

    Posts: 2605

    Sep 20, 2011 9:03 PM GMT
    Thank you,antijock.
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    Sep 20, 2011 9:19 PM GMT
    Very sorry to hear about your loss, lincsbear. I can't even imagine it.

    On a lighter note, WHO is this antijock dude? He rocks!
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    Sep 25, 2011 1:07 AM GMT
    iguanaSF saidTime to watch some Bette Davis.

    I suggest the following very strongly:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlldAcTyKiw&feature=BFa&list=PLA21250E13EE3B153&lf=results_main

    tumblr_le1eh63MOq1qarjnpo1_500.jpg


    I saw the entire Dick Cavett interview with her a couple of years ago. She was really amazing. Totally blew me away.
  • barriehomeboy

    Posts: 2475

    Sep 25, 2011 1:27 AM GMT
    I had cancer over the summer too. Went through radiation treatments. Waiting for test to see if they worked. How can I help you understand your mom?