Sunday 22 March 2015

Are You Ready For This?

In the opening line of Hilary Duff's song 'Fly' she sings "In a moment, everything can change".

Have you ever had one of those moments? Everything in your life seems to be on schedule with its ebb and flow, then suddenly you feel like you've been hit with something hard enough to knock the wind out of you and it takes all of your strength to get your bearings back into order again.

A few weeks ago mum told me she wasn't feeling well and hadn't been for a little while. We were concerned, naturally, but since we had no idea what is was, there didn't seem any reason to overreact until we had some idea of what was going on for sure.

Each week that followed involved another doctor's visit, another test, more uncertainty, stress and worry until finally we had something to go on.

Cancer. The specialist she'd gone to see and a mammogram had revealed that she had a lump in her breast, there were also lesions in her liver and her bones. In short, things weren't good.

How do you prepare or even cope with something like that?! Knowing there's nothing you can do except support the person as needed and spend as much time with them as you're able to because you never know what's going to come of it all.

With each test and new bit of information I've been checking in with both my parents and they with me. Oddly enough mum seems to be in the highest of spirits out of anyone. We're still trying to process it, but she's loving the attention and waves of support that are coming from telling people her problems. The worst part is, the rest of us just have to suck it up. It's her thing to deal with however she chooses and although it affects the rest of us, our needs come second.

When I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Scoliosis at 12 and had my surgeries at 13, I chose to block it out and refused to deal with it except for the times when I had to, namely at each doctors visit. Outside of the hospital, it didn't exist because I didn't acknowledge it. Mum on the other had made it everyone's business to know exactly what was going on at every opportunity she had to do so and I hated it more than anything. I fought with her constantly about it. It was my problem to deal or not deal with and she had no right to try and deal with it for me when it was the last thing I wanted.

I've noticed that my coping mechanisms haven't changed much, but I can understand more than I ever could before what mum was going through. Although I've tried not to tell many people about mum's illness because I don't want to think about it, I've found myself mentioning it more than I would have a decade or so ago. It's another way of coping with it.

A close friend of mine who's been through pretty much the same thing told me that as much as it sucks, I need to tell people that I'm around so they know how to approach me. If I react differently than I normally would to anything and they have no idea why, it changes everything. She has a point.

I posted an update on Facebook last week once we had the biopsy results back to announce of the findings and let people know. I hesitated at first because as much as I wanted people to know, I didn't want to say it because that meant it was real then, that meant I actually had to deal with it and I still wasn't ready, I don't think you ever can be unless you have no other choice but to be.

Now we're all just finding ways to deal with it. Dad told me he's just taking one day at a time which I think is all you really can do in this situation. I told him I'm glad that work and uni are keeping me busy because there's nothing worse than sitting around feeling worried and helpless with nothing to keep your mind occupied.

I've personally received an outpouring of support from my friends and people I'm close to which has been nice, but again, it's still early days and trying to wrap my head around it all is incredibly hard. Watching TV shows, listening to as much music as I can handle and crying in private moments has been the biggest help so far, aside from focusing on my studies which requires a significant amount of mental energy.

Are you ever ready for something like this? Is it possible to ever prepare yourself? So many times people say 'I never expected it to happen to me'. I guess the biggest question is, how do you deal when you don't know how to deal? You either don't, or you find a way.

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