Home > Uncategorized > The Day of Mom’s Diagnosis

The Day of Mom’s Diagnosis

Just after two on a Friday afternoon, my cellphone rang.  I looked at the caller id and saw Mom’s name displayed.  My stomach dropped.  I knew the news would not be good.

She’d been dealing with stomach problems for some time, but it was hard to know exactly how long because she always tended to downplay any illness she was experiencing.  In the last few weeks, the symptoms, the vomiting and the like, had been daily and painful.  She’d been to the doctor multiple times and when there was no improvement to her symptoms, he ordered a CAT scan.  She scheduled the scan for a Friday morning, her day off, and told me that she wouldn’t have the results until the following Tuesday or Wednesday.

So when the phone rang hours after her CAT scan, I knew the news would not be good.

“Stomach cancer,” she said, trying to keep her composure.  She stumbled over her tear-filled words.  “There’s no treatment and I have one to three months.”  She paused again, before adding one more thing, “Call your brothers.”

The night before when I’d been discussing the impending CAT scan of Mom, I told Angela (my wife) that I hoped the prognosis would be something simple, but I thought that it might be cancer.  “And if it’s cancer, the news won’t be good.”  How I suspected something like this is beyond me as I didn’t know anything about stomach cancer.

I called my brothers and passed on the news.  We were all shocked.  It’s one thing to expect bad news and another thing altogether to receive it.

Unable to concentrate, I gathered my things and decided to call it a day at work.  I remembered that I needed to pick up some things at Target.  Somehow I always end up at Target after getting bad news like this.  After Dad died, I was picking up a prescription at Target when one of my brothers called me back.  I had to tell him that our Dad had passed away while standing in an aisle looking at window cleaner.

After Target, I stopped for an ice cream cone at Bruster’s.  Part of me hoped that the frozen sugary concoction inside a waffle cone would make me feel better.  I don’t know if it made me feel better, but it tasted good.  While I was sitting in the parking lot, Mom called me again.  “I’m home.  I’m ready to talk.”

It took me about fifteen minutes to get to her house.  We sat in her living room and talked for an hour or so as she tried to process the words of her diagnosis.  The diagnosis was real, but it was hard to wrap our minds around it.  We laughed as we talked about the past and we cried not knowing what the next days and weeks would hold.  She made clear her hopes and wishes for the future.

More than anything in that conversation on March 16, 2012, she was saying her last words while she still had strength, while they were fresh on her mind.  I let her speak and I tried to reassure her.

Her words and actions had been such that there was no need for last words.  Her life spoke for herself and it spoke volumes.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sandra Windmeyer
    April 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I am so sorry. All I can do is pray for her and the family. Went through that with my mom. It hurts so bad. God be with you.

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