A few days after our September trip to Scott and White, I called Mother to talk about scheduling a doctor’s appointment. She let me know that there was no way she was going to the doctor. I reminded her that she had agreed to go. Her response was that yes, she had agreed to go, but she was NOT going. I don’t remember ever having been so angry at my mother. I could not believe she was going back on her word. Infuriating.
After contacting my sisters, we decided that we were going to have to confront her. We went to Mother and Daddy’s house and begged, pleaded, and cried. At that point, she really had no choice but to relent. We made an appointment for her asap—before she could change her mind—again.
Darla went with Mother to the doctor, but did not go into the examination room. When the doctor came out of the room, he talked with both Darla and Mother. Darla said the doctor spoke calmly, but he was visibly shaken. The doctor told Darla later that not in his entire practice had he ever seen a tumor as large as Mother’s. It was approximately 6 inches across. He did a biopsy, but said he was certain it was breast cancer.
Every doctor that Mother saw in the next few months asked her why she waited so long to get help. She never had an answer. Mother said she had known that she had a tumor for about 5 years, but she never said a word to anyone. I think she had many reasons for not taking care of herself. She, as I mentioned before, was a martyr. She was busy taking care of Daddy. She said that there was not enough money. Yes, fear was in the mix as well. I am sure there are other reasons, but that is for another discussion on another day.
However, once she had her diagnosis, she decided she wanted to fight. Mother wanted to live.
My regret: That as her daughter, I was not more forceful, more insistent, more determined in getting her to a doctor. The ‘well, it’s her decision’ card was just too easy to play, and I played it often.
Within a few days Mother was under the care of an onconlogist. The cancer had metastasized to several lymph nodes and so she was labeled Stage 4. Chemo begins.