Finals B Gone & Breast Cancer

It has been 5 very refreshing, gaming-filled days since I took my last of four finals from the most.brutal.semester.by.far.ever. It felt like the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race - but instead of making three elaborate dresses a night, I had paper after god awful project after presentation and another paper and then another presentation and… you get the gist. Anyway, by the end of it writing a single sentence made my chest clench and my mind go blank. Oy vey.

On another, more personal note, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. She had surgery on Monday and we’re waiting to hear back regarding the possibility of radiation treatment.

I’ve had a difficult time figuring out how to write about this in a way that respects my mother’s privacy while also relaying that it’s happening and how I feel. I’ll just let her read and approve it before I publish. Solution, BAM!

Essentially, throughout learning of her diagnosis I’ve felt stressed, but moreso worried about how she’s handling it and what I can do to support her and my pops. But overall, our family has been extremely optimistic about it - especially my mom, who has been crazy strong, positive, and handling it super well. For instance, just moments before she was about to be wheeled in for surgery, she pulled a fast one on the staff. I’m not sure that the medical staff expect this kind of behavior from cancer patients, but a reeeeal cruel funny, it was.

So, pre-surgery the nurse hooked my mom up to a “patient warming system” called a “bear hugger”. It’s similar to an air mattress, but goes over someone like a blanket and is filled with warm air via a tube screwed in to the bottom that’s attached to the bear hugging warmer machine. This picture I’ve chosen to illustrated what this contraption is happens to be god awful blurry, but it’s the best I could find!

Anyway, THE day before surgery my mom went out with the family and I to coffee and sat directly in the sun for hours with no sun screen. Predictably, she ended up with a rash-looking burn on her chest, forearms, and even her hands.

Fast forward to the moments before surgery, as she lay there beneath the warming bear hugging machine with her chest, forearm, and hand burns showing. The poor anaesthesiologist walks in, and asks her, “Oh my, are these rashes?”, to which she replies, “No. The bear hugger is burning me.”

I loved it. For the next 5 or so seconds of silence, he was clearly bewildered and started to stutter out a response when my mom finally broke her straight face, “Not really. I got a sun burn yesterday.”

Clearly relieved, his tension dropped and he let out a laugh of relief. But, it didn’t end there. When the resident doctor came in to the room and asked about her burns, the anaesthesiologist took a turn this time and said, “She’s being burned by the bear hugger.”

Same bewildered, gasping, silent and trying to articulate a stuttering response reaction. Until my mom laughed and told him that she had been burned the day before. Relieved, the resident doctor admitted, “I was just, is this even possible? Is it on temperature seriously malfunction?!”.

Then, the poor nurse walked in. And when she set herself up for disaster by asking my mom about her burns, the anaesthesiologist went for the kill again with, “She’s being burned by the bear hugger.” The poor nurse, also bewildered and gasping, leaned in close to my mom, looked directly into her eyes, and said, “Why haven’t they turned it off?” The room erupted in to laughter.

Oh, my mother.

Now, she’s like an Amazonian warrior babe who has lopped a breast off so it won’t get in the way of wielding her battle axe!

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