Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Of Time, Illness, and Ancestors
I sometimes think I want to go back in time to see how my foreparents lived and how they managed various aspects of their lives, but this year I just want to stop time for a month or two. After surgery in November I learned that I've joined the ranks of several of my ancestors who battled cancer. (Body parts and a tumor were removed. A subsequent CT scan didn't reveal cancer cells in other organs but the oncologist won't declare me cancer-free for five years -- after check-ups and tests every four months.) Though the surgery was not a major one (compared to a hip replacement) it's left me with little energy, either physical or mental. I thought if I could stop time, I would be able to rest and recuperate then prepare for, participate in, and enjoy all the activities and celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. (I know: I'm a wishful thinker.)
This experience turned my thoughts to three ancestors who battled cancer. My mom survived breast cancer but her paternal grandmother succumbed to skin cancer (which I assume spread to other organs). And my paternal grandfather died of colon cancer. I didn't live near my mom when she was battling cancer and don't have any specific memories of her experience. And my two grandparents died before I was born. When they were first diagnosed did they think (like me) that their bodies had betrayed them? How did they react? Were they fearful, resigned, optimistic of overcoming? How did they carry on? What hope did the doctors give them of overcoming, especially in the early 1900s? What options were there to fight cancer in the early 1920s and early 1930s? I'll never know but still I wonder.
I can neither stop nor jump back in time and Christmas will come whether I'm ready or not, so I'll just continue on, expecting that I'll feel more like my healthy self as the days pass.
I hope you are having a happy, healthy Christmas season.
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