The Will

What was I thinking when, during my last couple of days at work, I would attempt to write my Will.  My husband and I meant to take care of it for some time, but with my knee surgery, building our home, and having our daughter – all overlapping – the Will didn’t take precedence.  Who expected to need it anyway, so soon after being married?

Sitting in the food court eating my tray lunch, I made notes of my assets and how I wanted them divided amongst my family, set instructions regarding my daughter and who would become her legal guardian – who was I kidding?!  I had to stop writing because the tears kept rolling down my cheeks.  My eyes were probably bloodshot, so I was too embarrassed to look up from the paper.  This was necessary, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.  The tiny napkins that were handed to me with my tray by the food kiosk, were drenched from tears and blowing my nose.

Had the people around me noticed I was crying?  Were they thinking I was saying goodbye to someone, or did they think I was just crazy?  I doubt they would think I was writing my Will and heading into the fight of my life.  Heart-wrenching emotion I couldn’t prevent from leaking out, so I was forced to put the notes aside.  Thinking clearly or being objective was impossible at that point.

 

Looks like summer is here to stay!  Enjoy!  Hope you’ll “Share” this link and continue reading my memoir.  Catch up by reading through the Archive Section, beginning with last December.  Thank you!

Patricia

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Back To Work – Part 2

My colleague, Lina, who worked with me in the corporate department, remembers my telling her I had tumours in the stomach, and then I cried.  “You had been complaining of being very tired lately.”  She also reminded me how “distracted you were after your gastroscopy results.  Howard said to you that you should go home.”  She and others at the office couldn’t understand why I was still at work, knowing what I knew.

Lina and I have become great friends, even though I haven’t returned to work.  Our children were born three weeks apart.  It was funny having two of the three employees in our department pregnant, but not so enjoyable for our small office, who would lose both of us for a year while we were on maternity leave.  We still reminisce about our pregnancies, and how we would compare notes during the day.  “Do you feel this?  What name have you chosen for either sex?”  We also spent time together during maternity leave, and visited the office with our newborns.

Did I even say goodbye to anyone at the office?  Walking around dazed, I didn’t realize what I was doing, nor did I know what the future held.  I brought home the framed photos of my daughter that I kept on my desk.  There were three pictures of her that I loved, and I had put them into a narrow vertical frame I could also sit on a bedside table in my hospital room.

Today, that frame hangs on a wall I pass several times a day, but now holds a picture of Isabella, Mariano, and myself, each aged four or five.  It’s interesting to spot the similarities and differences Isabella took from each of us.  The way I look now doesn’t really represent my look as I grew up, so our childhood pictures link us well.  Even though she has her father’s eyes, and other facial aspects of him, my cousins call her “little Patricia.”  It isn’t important that she takes from me;  in fact, I prefer she doesn’t take the health complications I’ve experienced throughout my life.  The noticeable resemblance does make me smile.

It was tough to have to tell my circle of friends that I had cancer, but I managed to meet with my usual lunch friends to tell them in person.  They were sad, of course, and wished me well.  Annette, a longtime friend from my former workplace, looked passed me, “Oh, my good friend…”

 

Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the beautiful weather here in Montreal!

Back To Work – Part 1

Plans for my future did change.  I had to concentrate on getting through the surgery and treatments, as well as prepare for a long absence from my life.  If you are busy with operations and treatments, there’s no time for derailment;  and, when you’re excessively sick throughout your treatments, then dealing with anything else in your life is almost impossible.  Getting through vomiting, pain, and sleepiness are your priority.  In my case, they took over my life for at least eight months;  and, that doesn’t include the months of investigation prior to diagnosis.  We have to allow ourselves that time to fight for our life – we deserve it.  But would I live to continue on where I left off?

Work kept me busy up until just a few days prior to surgery.  I was a corporate paralegal and office manager at Howard’s law firm prior to diagnosis.  Since I had previously handled many more positions there since inception, I became the go-to person, trainer and handler of our time-tracker software, and known to most of our corporate clients.

Was I using the time to stop myself from thinking about what was going on and what I was about to embark on?  I’m not one to leave things in a mess.  Clearing my desk and organizing my workload was necessary, so my clients wouldn’t call in a panic for expected documents, and my colleagues wouldn’t be stuck guessing what was going on in the file.

Pages of instructions were distributed amongst my colleagues.  Despite the noticeable cringes, I knew all my unfinished corporate files would be taken care of, and all my administrative duties handled until I returned.

 

Hope you’re spending a splendid evening with the ones you love.

 

Not So Nice To Meet You

Further details would be known from the specialist who would put me to sleep to take measurements, as well as check the severity of my stomach’s condition.  What I remember about this second gastroscopy was the doctor telling me, “You may not wake up from this test.”  He frightened me.  I didn’t know what to say, and there was no one else in the room to consult.  The decision to continue was mine alone.  What choice did I have?  “Ok.”  Should I have walked out?  Maybe I should have slapped him in the face for being so cold with me.  I suppose he just wanted to warn me?!

Obviously, I did wake from the test, but I never questioned why there was an issue.  When I entered the doctor’s sombre-lit office later on, my husband was already looking discouraged.  Mariano could barely look at me, and he didn’t say a word.  He didn’t even ask me how I was feeling, but the look on their faces said it really didn’t matter.  My eyebrows raised with curiosity, but I didn’t question them.

The doctor looked right in my eyes, as I sat down next to Mariano, and announced without hesitation, “If you have something to do, then do it.”  Would you be able to finish that meeting?  I certainly couldn’t.  I haven’t the slightest idea what else he said to us.

After several years, Mariano told me that the specialist had given me only one or three months to live.  Ask Mariano anything about historical events, but this detail wasn’t easy for him to recount.  He did say that the doctor warned him, before I came in, that, “It doesn’t look good.  Spend the best time with her, and do what you can together.”

“Oh my God… what did you say?”

“I thought he was mistaken, and I asked, ‘It has to be more time than that?’ ”

I hadn’t taken that statement as a death sentence when Mariano told me.  Or had I?  Years had passed already.  The doctor was obviously wrong.  My life seemed to be secure for now.  Like everything else, I just took it in, without connecting to its effect – at least, not consciously.  It’s possible that, even after many years in remission, the fear of recurrence still burdens me.  So when I hear those high stakes, I must only remember how blessed I am.

 

I continue to beat the odds…

 

Nice To Meet You

My internet searches for stage IIIB stomach cancer revealed up to a twenty percent survival rate.  It didn’t look good at all!  Lyanne told me that her sister wanted me to understand that, “Statistics are based on a specific group of people, and don’t represent your outcome.”  Basically, you either make it or you don’t.  As logical as it all sounded, those numbers were pretty grim, and the comments from doctors even worse.

I collected all my paperwork from the initial hospital, so the new surgeon could review the results.  He immediately checked his schedule for availability.  It was full for quite some time, but he would operate me his last day before leaving on holiday.  If that doesn’t speak loud enough, what does?  Or, the urgency was there, and he felt obligated.  Whatever his reasons for taking my case, September 28, 2004, was my big day.

This man, soft-spoken and experienced in his field, was very kind and open with us.  There was an immediate trust in him.  He scheduled a gastroscopy that he would handle himself, as well as a more complex one with a specialist.  They were both completed the following week.

 

May your days be bright, and your life full.  No matter how you spend each day, appreciate the good as well as the bad.  The good makes you smile, but the bad teaches you good things – and each of these moments builds the path of who you are to become.  Each experience with make you wiser and strengthen you. 

In an instant, everything can change… and you will find yourself pleading to God for what was your worst moment.  “That was nothing compared to this.”