Most Times, He Takes a Life: The Week that I Was Robbed
Melissa, our newest contributor to BohoMamma, writes about her diagnosis of Ovarian Stage 3 Cancer.
I’ve been robbed! Call the police you say? No, the police are unable to catch this thief. This culprit is a cunning master and there are many victims. This larcenist does not strike in any pattern and does not care if his victims are young or old; rich or poor; black, white, brown or in-between. This thief does not care if one had other plans. He laughs at plans. This menace is not to be taken lightly: most times, he takes a life.
He struck me. He took my hopes, my dreams and my ability to carry a child. He robbed me of memories of bonding with a newborn. He took the moment between my child and me; the moment when we would have locked eyes and met for the first time. It was what I wanted in this life. I expected it, really. I expected 9-months preparing myself for the day when I would meet my child. I never questioned the 36-weeks it would take to get to know him or her. And that dream – the one that I had thought about quite often – was taken from me in an instant.
Meet Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer. He haunts me still.
These thoughts are fresh in my mind. They burn my heart and sting. Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed. I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to be in remission. But I can’t help but have this feeling that I was cheated out of something…of being a woman?
Yes, I understand that to be a woman means far more than just creating life. I was taught this by the strong and independent women in my family. I was taught to get an education, to put career first and then to start one’s family. But still.
I remember the emotions: the feelings of rage, sadness and betrayal. It was a potpourri of thoughts and emotions; a this and a that; an up and a down. I suppose, it was the equivalent of an emotional break-down. I would find myself close to tears over any one thing and then discover myself sobbing uncontrollably over the next.
My new life began as I made the journey across a part of Houston to home. The ride seemed longer, but the trip lasted 45-minutes. I entered a beautiful home. My home smelled of fresh flowers that had been sent from friends and loved ones. I staggered through the front door with my new best friend – my hospital pillow – clutched to my abdomen; I made my way to our bedroom.
The first night home I had nightmares and night sweats. For anyone that has experienced those, night sweats are nightmares in and of themselves. Even though the calendar read February, I had the air-conditioning and a fan turned on and positioned on me.
The next day, our landlord came by to tell us that they had put the house we were renting for sale. The owners had made us offers to buy on numerous occasions, but the house was too small for our plans for a growing family.
I have always heard that moving and changing jobs puts stress on a marriage. I will see you that move and that new job and raise you with oncology appointments; cancer treatments; diagnostic treatments; and, searching for a new home. It was all so stressful. My husband was a saint during it all. He only argued with me on my being a stubborn patient and that argument was rooted in love.
This same week, one of my oldest girlfriends called me. We had been playing phone tag for two- months and because we hadn’t spoken, she wasn’t aware that I had been robbed. She didn’t know of my diagnosis or my surgery.
Hers is the kind of friendship that allows us to pick up where we had left off. She asked why I was quiet. I told her everything. I told her I had undergone surgery three-days prior. I told her the doctors had found tumors during my hysterosalpingogram and laparoscopy. I told her that the doctors had removed 37-pounds of tumor, along with my reproductive organs. I told her that my hopes of getting pregnant were lost.
She was silent. She had called to tell me that she was pregnant for the third time. She had gotten pregnant by accident. The father to be was denying the baby was his. She was still in love with him. It was the same story I had heard from her with her other two children.
To say I was upset would be an understatement. I lost it. I dropped the phone and sobbed. My husband picked up the phone and began talking to my friend. My sister sat quietly by me and held me. Still not knowing what my friend had told me, my husband came back in and told me that he had given her directions to our house and she would be here in an hour. I didn’t want to see her. I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I felt anger and frustration and animosity towards her.
She walked into my home with tulips – my favorite flower – and chicken noodle soup and crackers. Some people would think it a peace offering, but it was just her way. She told me she loved me. She told me she was sorry. Since the 4th grade, she could tell what I was thinking. I couldn’t hide anything from her. Our bond of friendship was stronger than my pain and anger and she held me as I cried. She told me that I was the strongest person she knew. I didn’t believe it at the moment and some days I still don’t.
That was then – the day that I was robbed – and the week or two following.
Today, I see my strength in my step-daughter, who has been in my life since she was ten-years old. My step-daughter told me months after my surgery, during the battle for my life (the life I now had, the life I had lost) – that just because I didn’t carry her inside of me, did not mean I was any less her mother.
She told me that I have been a mother to her since the day we met. She told me “Mom, I am yours and you are mine. That is it.”
Those tears – the ones that came when she said those words to me – came from knowing that I didn’t see her as a “step-daughter”. She was my daughter. She is brilliant. She surprises me. She is fiercely independent, strong-willed and I know now, that I have met that child. I was lucky enough not to have the labor pains, weight gain, stretch marks or other battle scars that come with being a mother. I look at her and know that her father and I did well. She gives me inspiration to be a better, stronger woman.