Queen For a Day: Participating in My Own Wake

by Maggan

in Emotional Support,Family & Friends,Surgery

Stock Photo

Dr. Guru meets with my family in the waiting room. Big grin, face mask dangling around his neck, arms raised, two fingers on each hand formed into the V for victory signs.  No cancer in frozen lymph node section. So far everyone agrees. Big wide margins. Some  heard only “wide” margins, but not “big wide” margins. One thought he said only “good margins.”  Another does not recall anything about margins.

Whatever he said, everyone is jubilant. The cancer “episode” is over.  The drive home takes 20 minutes. We stop to fill a prescription: a small brown plastic container filled with — Wow — FIFTY Percocet!   Good bye pain I don’t have. Hello euphoria.

In the living room, the mantel above the fire place is filled with flower arrangements. Calla lilies, Gerber daisies, roses of all kinds, delphiniums, chrysanthemums,  hydrangeas, and freesias fill the air with their perfume, lots of get well cards.

Our family lounges in the sofas and chairs around the large coffee table. Snacks and munchies are brought in .  After all, it is dinner time. Wine is poured for everyone but me. (I get water. One indication that all is not fully back to normal.)  A couple of neighbors stop buy. The phone rings. A friend brings over a water melon salad and a chicken salad. My sister in law brings a bag of fresh bagels from Goldberg’s  along with various spreads. The atmosphere is that of a festive wake.

Normally, during casual family gatherings or Sunday dinners, people arrive late or leave early. Some excuse themselves to check emails, or make cell phone calls, turn on the TV  to catch the last few minutes of some game, or sneak away to play billiards downstairs. All signs of a certain restlessness, an eagerness to escape the tight family noose. Not today.

Like on  Christmas Eve, everyone remains seated: content and mellow, we bask in the glow of  togetherness.  I feel their warmth and concern, happiness about the outcome.  We even play a few hands of my favorite card game in a concession to my status as Queen for a Day. (Although they don’t let me win.)

At 11 PM, I go upstairs to prepare for bed. I am not particularly tired and I feel no discomfort. Dutifully I swallow a Percocet because my husband reminds me of the nurse’s wisdom: “Take them before you start to hurt. It is easier to prevent pain than to chase it away. ” Plus who wants to hear “I told you so” should I wake up wreathing in pain.

When I roll over on my side, I feel a tighness, tenderness, in my swollen, bruised  breast. A pleasant reminder that I still have that breast,  and that it is now tumor free. Post operative treatment options are completely off my radar screen as I drift off to a night of uninterupted, dreamless sleep.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geester September 14, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I will always remember that day. Mostly I will remember your indomitable spirit and how it infected all of us. I will also remember your surprise and laughter that the dye turned your pee turquoise. As always, your sense of humor made a scary day easier to handle and you comforted us more than we could ever comfort you. Love you.

Priscilita August 2, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Your stories are inspiring. To have people my own age going through this too. I have a friend that is going though some major problems due to the radiation, he is my age and its terrible. I also have become friends with an 8 year old that is just and amazing inspiration to me. I was diagnosed in 09 with breast cancer. Now is has spread to the Brain liver and bones. The good news it my Pet scans show nothing in the liver now and just a couple of smaller spots in the the bone left but I am going to little rock tomorrow because I am going to find out if I’m going to be facing surgery for the brain Tumors! I just want to thank you all for sharing your stories!!

Maggan April 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Priscilla, I am so sorry to hear that your breast cancer spread. I hope your surgery went well and that you are still doing well. You are in my thoughts.

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