Posted on: January 29th, 2014 by

As many of my readers know, my mom had a recent medical scare. A mammogram had revealed an abnormality, but an ultrasound ruled out a malignancy.

As I said in a previous post, “benign” is becoming my favorite word.

I thank everyone in cyberspace for their support and prayers. The collective support of this fabulous online community buoyed me up when I was down.

While I am beyond relieved at the good news, I don’t kid myself. Breast cancer is wily and insidious. No one is exempt from this disease, which has left me looking over my shoulder a bit too much for my liking.

While I was holding my breath to see what would unfold regarding my mother’s health, I had lots of time to think about cancer, survivorship, and my terror.

Mostly I thought of how important my mom is to me and how grateful and lucky I am to still have her in my life.

During my teen years, my mom and I cemented our friendship. We frequently had “ladies’ nights out” and shopping days. We would talk freely about our lives. One day, commuting to a local shopping center, a classmate on the same bus came up to me to chat. A few days later at school, the classmate asked me, “Why didn’t you introduce me to your sister?” When I told my mom, we had a great laugh, and she was understandably flattered.

When I was newly separated from my husband, she was in Chicago helping me get settled into my apartment. We shopped for furniture, and the sight of us hauling a brand new coffee table into the building (thank goodness elevators were on the premises!) must have been comical. She also happened to be visiting me when my divorce was finalized. During my separation and divorce, she kept me too busy to wallow in self-pity.

When her new granddaughter, just-arrived from China, sobbed in fear of my parents, my mother tried to soothe her. Back in the day of Ari acclimating to me, followed by acclimating to those close to me, Ari was a champion crier. Per my mom’s advice, we put the baby in her umbrella stroller and walked her around my parents’ neighborhood and even in the house. And those tears didn’t stop my parents from taking Ari to a photographer so our family could have its first family portrait of the new addition. Ari even managed a huge smile for the camera.

Nowadays, my daughter adores her grandparents. My mom and dad spend ample time with Ari, who was a featured “performer” at a “talent show” in my parents’ home. Ari draped a towel over her one night, and my mom gave Ari her spotlight by shining a flashlight on the part of the floor where Ari was standing.

Ari has not forgotten.

My mom and I speak at least once a week, and I love the sound of her voice. I’m hoping I can continue to hear her voice for many, many years to come.


Please feel free to comment on your relationship with a parent/parents.

If applicable, how has cancer affected your relationship(s) with a parent or as a parent?

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7 Responses to Benign!

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    This is such great news! Here’s to many more balloons and many more years of hearing your mom’s sweet voice! I’m happy and relieved for you and your whole family.

  2. karen sutherland had this to say about that:

    oh, beth, this is such great news, and I know a tremendous relief for both your sweet mom and you. I loved reading about all the times she has been there for you, and how your parents quickly took ari right into their hearts.

    my mother lives far away, and is both in a miasma of chronic grief over the death of my father, over 6 years ago, along with the beginnings of dementia. anyone who ever met her fell in love with her, and not one ever heard her say a bad word about anyone. she had 8 children and reveled in the joy of motherhood – most of my memories are of her smiling, often laughing face. now it’s so very hard to have a phone conversation – know at times she has lapses and doesn’t remember me, or many of the details of my life. she forgets that hugh, who she adored as passed away, and we can no longer talk about books and reading, which she so enjoyed. i have gradually had to say goodbye to big parts of my mom as i knew her. she always adored her grandchildren – all 20 of them – but now would not recognize them without being given clues to their identities. it makes me so sad that i can’t be there with her, just to sit and hold her hand and caress her sweet face, and talk about the past.

    i love writing, and my mom always believed that someday i would write a book. i was thinking about that and have had the idea to write a long series of letters to her, to share all the memories of how her love for me has been such a gift. i can think of hundreds of themes – her incredible sense of humor in the early days of motherhood, when life was hard, but she made everything so magical, about special birthdays, about how she comforted me when i was sick, about a few years ago when she called on my birthday and told me every detail of what it was like – how beautiful i was, what the weather was like, and how her heart was nearly bursting with joy, about the time, the very instant when i was 4 years old and it clicked – i could read! because she read to me every day. i remember when i was working in publishing, and she called me at my office to tell me i was going to have a new brother or sister – i was 21, and she was 40 – and it was like she was having a new baby for the first time, she was so thrilled. i remember many disappointments in my life when she got me through them all, being my biggest cheerleader, and always believed in me. she gave the sweetest hugs, said the most loving and sincere words, and always gave me a wide berth, trusting me to make my own decisions, reassuring me that i had a good head, and besides, we can learn so much from our mistakes.

    i can’t see my mom these days, and our phone talks often leave me in tears. but i can give my mom a precious gift with letters about times that spanned our lives together, how she made me the woman i am proud to be, and offer my heartfelt thanks that when i was born, i knew just the mother i wanted – and it was her and only her. i can’t wait to get started – there’s so much to write about!

    much love and light,

    Karen xoxo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Karen, your comment really moved me. It’s clear that your mom is a wonderful, special human being. It is awesome that you’ve shared so many of life’s precious moments. Despite her current condition, your mom will always be in your heart. You will always have so many terrific memories to share; even if she doesn’t remember them, they happened.

      I think you ought to write that book. What an awesome gift to you, your mom, and your family! You have so much material, and I bet writing it will make you feel good.

      Take care and thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) had this to say about that:

    I am so relieved to hear this. Our mothers are so precious and sadly we don’t always realize quite how precious until we loose the gift of their presence in our lives. Continue to value that gift for many years to come Beth x

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Marie, thank you so much for your insightful comment. Isn’t it amazing we don’t always realize how precious our moms are until they are gone? I know your loss has been devastating. Thank you for your kind wishes. I’m going to do my best not to take my mom for granted.

      Thank you for including my blog post in this week’s round up.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

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