Of course this is the understatement of the millennium, but recently I've met or read about more and more strong, amazing women who've had to put their lives on hold to battle cancer. Sometimes, like in the case of my new friend Susan, there is a triumphant remission. But in other cases, like with Meg's soulsister Jen, the cancer proves so powerful that final wishlists must be drawn up. And then there is the heartbreaking story of two sisters the Mothering community knew as mighty-mama and Kundalini Mama. Both had breast cancer and died a few months apart last year, leaving behind children (babies really), who still desperately needed them.
With my own mother, cancer has left her weakened but not defeated. She has a permanent ostomy and a surgery-related fistula to deal with, yet her voice is full of spirit. She has a long road of recovery ahead, but we -- my siblings, our spouses, her best friends -- all know she has the will to live, to overcome the depressing obstacles in her way. What's devastating, of course, is that for some, and eventually most people battling cancer, will is not enough. No amount of determination or support or even access to the country's finest oncologists can beat some people's cancer in the long-run. It boils down to a matter of time, and how that time should be and could be spent.
I know when "the time" comes for my mother, and I'm hoping it won't be for a long while, I will want to be with her as much as possible. Even if that means leaving my children temporarily under the care of friends and a live-in nanny. I will want the kids to talk to their Abuela and brighten her mood. I want to take lots of pictures, so when they ask about her I can show them and remind them what a funny, happy woman she was -- a woman who had so many friends she lived with her cell-phone virtually attached to her ear. I pray that my mom still has several rounds to go in her fight with cancer, even if I know deep-down that eventually her body, if not her spirit, may have to put down the gloves and rest. It's a downer of a thought, but like I said, cancer sucks.