Over the last four and half years, I have come to notice a silence before the good bye. I have seen it many times documented through formal blogs, tweeting, or Facebook timelines. Some go silent to focus on those closest to them, others are held back by whatever physical and mental impediments cancer has created in their bodies, and many just don’t want to walk the final days publicly.
Metastatic young adults and their families are force fed grief. Whether they want to deal with it or not. Some are fortunate enough to push against the odds and live full lives through the adversity of treatments, side effects, and scans. Metastatic cancer can claim you quickly or occasionally be tamed and tricked into giving you more time.
A year ago this coming December, we were told that cancer was winning and Anna’s time was up. A sudden sense of urgency forced us to plan small and large good bye parties. We researched and carefully crafted our conversations with the kids about Anna’s death. We had seen cancer’s quick execution of others, often leaving no time to prepare. This time was important to us.
To say that I am grateful for this extra time we have had is both an understatement and untrue. The last 11 months have been the hardest our family has had to face; often dark, emotional, and scary. The cancer in Anna’s brain has stolen her abilities to read, remember, and write. The 30+ pills a day that keep her alive, slowly rot her body. Her hands shake, she often moves from a twelve hour sleep to a 3 hour nap on the couch. The fatigue is endless. The recent grand-mal seizures are just another reminder how little control we have on this journey.
Through all this adversity. Anna has managed to channel her anxiety and fear of her eventual death into creating art and being present with her family. With all she deals with on a daily basis, she finds ways to be productive and chip away at living as full a life as possible in the time she has left. I will forever be grateful for her drive, deep character, and non compliance. She does things differently; always has and always will.
To all the people who have jumped further into our lives offering support and care, you bring hope and calm to an otherwise impossible situation. Thank you.
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