Your Shared Cancer Stories
Bernita W., Georgia
I’m Bernita Weston, daughter and care giver to my 63 year old mother of 4 girls, 10 grandkids and 2 great grandkids. Mom’s case was severe yet unique. Unique in the sense that I never understood how serious cancer was. Mom’s left breast was removed in Feb 2012. She was cancer free for a few short months but cancer returned with a wicked vengeance. Mom was what you call a "prayer warrior" a minister of the Gospel. Had I known just how serious breast cancer was and how important radiation and chemotherapy was, maybe I could’ve helped mom reconsider getting treatments.
I didn’t know mom’s refusal for treatment would mean an early death. Mom was dressing and patching her severely bleeding breast for months swearing me to secrecy from my siblings. Mom was getting worse yet I could not see past the clunky bandages and gauges. I was elated when mom told me she saw a cancer center commercial and was reconsidering radiation treatment.
Mom was pleasantly surprised at how understanding and loving the staff was when she called to make her 1st appt. Many doctors looked at mom’s breast and sent her away with the message that she would die. Emory Hospital won mom over, she wanted treatment and fast. 3 days before the first of 10 radiation treatments were to begin mom was diagnosed with pneumonia and was in the hospital many days.
Mom shared her last secret me, she had talked with The Lord and decided that her time was finished here on earth. Mom passed in hospice at 4:22am on Thanksgiving. I sat at her side over 19hrs reading, praying, and talking. Mom was indestructible and fearless; I thought nothing could hurt her. My advice to anyone holding on to prayer alone, you have to help with the healing process. Don’t neglect eating right, exercise and weight management. I wrote a story of mom’s last hours in hospice. Cancer treatment is not the end, it’s a new beginning. Ignoring symptoms will kill you. Prayer works but faith without works is dead. I pray this help someone.
Here is the story I wrote and read at mom’s home going entitled "Room 110"
My sister, Shennill and I take turns reading this book. As the day wears on, there is weeping, reading, singing, talking and laughing. Now imagine each of her grand kids entering this large dim room. As they arrive, one by one they are led to her bedside. They take turns having a seat next to grand mom to say their goodbyes. They don’t see sickness or pain, all they see is grand mom sleeping in a bed. The kids are reassured that although grandma is sleeping she can clearly hear everything that goes on, even their whispers in her ear. The kids range from ages 5 to 19. Visitors drift in and out as we reminisce and testify about the wonderful life mom lived and the impact she had on everyone she touched. Testimonies and praise pour out, as we recognize the presence of the LORD throughout mom’s life which is evident by the lives she leaves behind.
Now imagine family and friends gathering around mom’s bed holding hands for a final prayer of release and farewells. Soon after, all the visitors began to leave, and the grandkids have gone home for bed. There are four of us who remain behind: me on mom’s right, Shennill to her left, Wanda Mona’ at her left leg and Nottra at her right leg. We each sit around mom the way we sit around the table during the holidays. There are moments of silence followed by faint cries and weeping, all while worship music continues to echo the shadows. Throughout the night we talk about our lives, our families and our experiences; we remember the times with mom, we joke we laugh, we sing, all while never leaving her side.
Time presses on towards the dawn. Hours feel like minutes and all at once we notice mom’s breathing rapidly changing as if to clear her throat as she prepares to depart for the last time. As I hold her hand in my right hand underneath the white blanket, I place my left hand on her forehead and then gently rub her cheek, I could tell that the once warm hand I held all through the night was beginning to grow cold. We each hovered over mom for our last kiss, our last goodbye and our final farewells. With me to her right and Shennill to her left, Wanda Mona’ to her left leg and Nottra to her right, we watched anxiously as mom’s breaths became shorter and fewer in between. With her mouth slightly open, she takes a breath in and 30 seconds later she exhales and releases her last and final breath...We all stare in silence, watching her chest, waiting...There is no heartbeat, she breaths no more.
My sisters and I look at one another and then we look toward the ceiling in ROOM 110, we throw mom a kiss and wave goodbye with forced smiles, fighting back our tears. We envisioned mom waving back as she sees her four girls standing around her now lifeless body on a bed draped in white. As mom holds the hand of her guardian angel she turns and enters the pearly gates of heaven. Mom is gone. Silence is suddenly broken when I say, "Well everybody, at least we got to be together for one more Thanksgiving Day." And then we embraced one another and we wept...ONE SCRIPTURE PLAYS IN MY MIND OVER AND OVER!
Bernita's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org