My mother has survived breast cancer twice. The first time she was diagnosed with cancer, my parents lived in Dubai. I had flown in from the Netherlands to spend Christmas there with my parents. When I got there, I received the news that a small lump, the size of a grain of rice, had been found.
A radiation program was soon started. A special hospital had just been set up, specialized in cancer treatments, with the best doctors from around the world. This is where my mother was treated. Those doctors and nurses soon became a fan of my mom, who spent her time embroidering to pass the time and chatting with everyone. Never losing faith in a good outcome.
The second time breast cancer was discovered, the diagnosis was much more serious. A breast amputation was urgently scheduled. My parents now lived in Germany, so I was able to get to the hospital quickly. She had surgery on my birthday. I was in a panic, but my mother was calm herself and had every confidence that everything would be fine. The surgery was followed by an intense trajectory of chemo treatments.
Even this time you would not hear her complain and she remained in good spirits through out.
Always the optimist
My mother has always been very confident and optimistic. It will be fine, she would say. Yet, she also longed for a period of calm and quiet, in which she did not have to come back for check-ups and she could just continue with life. Without having to think about her health.
But unfortunately that was not to be the case. She got dizzy spells when she stood up from bed or a chair and was very tired. Her energy level dropped drastically. So it was back to the hospital for further check-ups.
A new heart valve
At the LUMC they found out that my mother needed a new heart valve. When she’d had another exam and you asked how it went, she always replied, “Okay, the doctor was happy.” She tried to put it off as long as possible, I think, but there was no escaping it. In the middle of the Corona pandemic, she was operated and got a new heart valve. A complication meant that the doctors had to insert a micro pacemaker, that same day. I think this was the last straw for her.
She lost her confidence
For the first time in my life I saw my mother angry, sad and depressed. It took quite some time for her energy to come back and she dared to do less and less. She had lost faith in her body. Every time she thought it was over, something else came up. No wonder you lose faith. Losing your health changes you as a person. And with that, comes grief.
My mom is doing much better now, thank God. Back to her optimistic self.
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