Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Circle of Life

I move my hand in a large circular motion clutching the paper towel and watching the foam of the glass cleaner bubble up on the glass. As I clean the dinner table I begin to think about life as a circle; beginnings and endings intertwined. Sometimes it seems that the past, present and future are all one.

My mother called today and explained that she had to go back for a second mammogram and an ultrasound. She is pretty sure she saw a lump on the ultrasound. She has so much anxiety around cancer, she is upset. Her mother died of breast cancer when she was just twenty one and my brother and I have both had cancer. Clearly, her anxiety is well earned.

I am surprisingly calm when I talk to her. I was the same way when I got my diagnosis. I feel detached and clear about how things will move forward if the lump is malignant.

“I didn’t want to worry you,” she begins, “I know that this must be hard for you.”

“Well, you don’t know what it is yet,” I say, trying to stay in denial, “they would have to biopsy it to see if it cancerous.” I know I have had six biopsies over the course of many years. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and go down the path towards worry. It won’t help.

“If it is anything I am not sure that I want these people to treat me here,” she says, appearing to have thought this through already.

“You have to let them get a diagnosis first mom and then you can figure out where you want to be treated.” Our roles are reversed; I am calming my mother, providing guidance.

I think about my mother, her mother, me and my brother. If she does have cancer it would be a continuation of this circle of cancer. I begin to worry about my son and daughter, for they could be affected too.

Now the glass on table is sparkling and the circular motion of my hand has stopped. I leave behind a fresh, clean table ready for the next meal. I hope that this is a metaphor for my life. That the circle will stop and that all will be well for the future. All I can do is hope.


Jill said...

Hope and Faith is what we have to have when faced with the possibility of cancer. Also we have to have a lot of fight in us and not ever give up.
I hope it will turn out to be nothing for your Mother but if it is it sounds like she has a wonderful daughter to help her through it.


Jeanne Marren Egan said...

Thanks for the kind words. It was negative so we dodged a bullet once again. I don't know how I really would have dealt with it. I was acting brave but who knows. Thank you for your positive thoughts.

Chez said...

Beautifully written Jeanne.
It almost seems a little like a role reversal as you support your Mother during these uncertain times. I am so sorry.
I pray for strength, courage and a positive outcome.

Jeanne Marren Egan said...

Thanks so much. I am relieved that things are okay with her. Hope you are well.

Curious City said...

Jeanne, if it is not too forward of me, I have a copy of a children's book that I think your daughter especially might like. My friend has just published a children's novel called THE ACCIDENTAL ADVENTURES OF INDIA MCALLISTER.

India's mother is a breast cancer survivor and India has some very sweet and matter-of-fact things to say about her mother's cancer. You can read some excerpts here on the character's blog:

The author and publisher gave me some copies to distribute. I would love to send you one in honor of your amazing family. Email me at kirsten@curiouscity.net with an address if you are interested. My best.