Breast Cancer, Aging Parents, and Responsibilities!


It’s October again, and here we are in Breast Cancer Pink month….breast cancer awareness.  Pink seems to be turning up everywhere and anywhere.  Cancer survivors and current patients have such a love hate relationship with this month.  We are definitely tied of seeing pink in our lives and being involved with PINK.


My support group has proved invaluable at times.  It isn’t usually until days afterwards, and I am gone from there; that I actually get ‘it’.  Dealing with feelings of anger and sadness are perfectly normal but your family and friends don’t accept that.  They don’t want to hear about it or see it.  Life is back to normal for them and ‘just you behave and act like it is all over’.


One of the women in my group says she has a cancer day once in awhile.  She just told us  ”When it gets really bad, I just tell my family I’m having a bad cancer day and go upstairs and crawl into bed.”  She is always better the next day and can cope.  Can I do that? I haven’t let myself yet, for fear I will never get out of bed again.

So working at a major hospital in a horrible part of town has lead to all kinds of emotions creeping up. Yes I see all these people with all these problems.  I am finding I am not coping with it very well.  I never wanted to work in a hospital before and now I am totally convinced I do not want to.  So luckily, I can stay out of the hospital, and work in the background in a supporting role.  It still isn’t easy some days.

I want to go to Arizona in the winter and be in the sun.  I want to relax and enjoy friends.  I want to explore the desert and putz around doing nothing while I still have time.  Because there is always that little voice in the back of your head with the ticking clock.  and I guess you have to have had cancer to appreciate that little time bomb.

I could scream at  my friends who all they think about is money.  They take life for granted.  I can’t help it, I don’t take ONE day for granted anymore.  Not one day.  Of course they don’t understand.  Everyone believes they have forever.  Even TS Elliot said “Life is a very long time”.  Tell that to everyone in the cemetery!

Is Life A Long Time?

Life is not all that long.  One day you were in high school and before you knew it, you were married and having your first baby.  Then you worked and worked, and slept from exhaustion and maybe loved your spouse, and went camping twice a year, and to Grandma’s twice if you were lucky.  Oh you made sure you made it at Christmas, gotta get those presents!

Then all of a sudden one of your parents dies unexpectedly, and you think gee now I am the adult.  No I still have one parent.  But you continue to take them for granted and as you push towards your 50s you are way to lazy to sit down with Mom and see what she is up to.  No, you figure you will do it later.  Nobody writes down the receipes, or people on the family tree and all those old photos remain in the box, album free and curling on their white edges.  Mom sits by the phone and waits for it to ring to get a call back.  But it doesn’t happen.  Pretty soon she is out with other seniors looking for ways to survive; getting this senior discount and church groups to come in and clean up the yard and wash the windows.

And then one day, you get the inevitable phone call, that Mom has  practically burned down the house.  Oh gosh you wonder, how am I going to get off work to take care of that?  Why wasn’t she more careful.  You make some excuse and a couple of days later you are on the way.  When you get there, you wonder what happened to the house.  Nothing works, the bathroom has a rug on the floor? Who would put carpet on the bathroom floor?? (Maybe somebody that falls).  You notice the dirty window sills, and the house has a broken beam outside and is hanging down - not having been painted in a long while.  Next you notice the neighbors house, with garbage and old rags, and crap piled along the side.  A dead pickup in the driveway parked sideways backed in.  What’s up with that?

Then the neighbor comes out and starts talking to you.  He is worried about your mother.  Her dog runs lose a lot, and she doesn’t appear to ever wear different clothes.  He says he picks up things for her at the store when he can.  What’s going on, you wonder.  Later that night when you have finished the strange dinner she has cooked, you ask what’s going on?  When did you start cooking breakfast for dinner.  I was hoping to have one of those good home cooked roasts you always do.  Roasts cost to much money?  Well, Mom you always had money before.  Why do you need to borrow money. You walk off now, telling yourself it isn’t your responsibility to help her out. You have enough problems yourself, and its your siblings turn cause you did it last time.  Of course, he doesn’t know what’s going on   because he hasn’t been there either.

The plight of our senior population.  If you aren’t responsible then who is?  The neighbor, the government, their old friends?  No, I think it is you.  But you don’t want to step up.  But who stepped up for you when you were a kid?  Oh, your parents were abusive.  Were they abusive all the time?  Could it have been that generations way of dealing with things?  Who are you to tell an entire generation what is wrong with the way they raised you?  Didn’t you get enough to eat most times?  Where were they when you were in the hospital? I bet they were right there.  Who was at your little league games, brownie camp outs, and taking you to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  Who always had a Christmas tree and presents of wonder  for you.  Who took you to church or sent you to church, and gave you guidance that formed your value system even if you chose a different route later?

Who was there for you when your first puppy died?  Who disposed of it without letting you know how banged up she was because she followed you on your bike, and got hit by a car?  Who provided you with homes for those animals you always brought home?  Not taking into consideration they might have new carpeting, or needed their sleep in the middle of the night?  But a puppy had to go outside.  Did you wake up?  No, you didn’t, Mom did.

And who gave you money or worked extra jobs so you could have the same things other kids did?  Your Mom did.

So when you don’t want to go, and are surprised when things are falling apart…its because it is the end of the line.  Wake up and smell the coffee.  The Season is moving on, and so are your parents.

About Bonnie Remmick

Four year cancer survivor trying to help my fellow journey mates get through the maze of treatment and the unending joy of recovery! If we just help each other along the way, the path is not so steep. Take my hand, my friend and come along the way! Its going to be a journey to Yourself.
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