On the drive home, my sister and I discussed how to approach the subject so that I can deliver the news to mom as gently as possible. Dad was working overseas and we would have to tell him over the phone (which was exactly what I wanted to avoid doing), but we will tackle the dad issue later. We decided that we would ease mom into this by telling her that the mass could be something simple and benign and possibly easily treatable. Since we really did not know what it was yet, there was no point of mentioning the frightening word “cancer” in that conversation.
However, I realized that I had underestimated mom. Sometimes in situations of extreme difficulties, certain people who may otherwise be fragile and vulnerable may surprise us. I was mom’s child, and I think she realized how much I needed her to be strong for me during this time…and she was! She accepted what I was telling her so much better than I had imagined, and we quickly started discussing what the next steps were that we had to take. Of course she was my sweet emotional mom too, so the tears still flowed, but she remained strong and rational even though I know inside she was full of fear and uncertainty. So was I, so was my sister, and so were my brothers. We were all just putting on a façade of being strong, because sometimes when life hits you with unimaginable blows that is the only way to survive! Breaking down and crumbling into a human ball may seem like the more attractive alternative in such circumstances, but it is not the way that will win the battles of life. To win a struggle, one must face it with determination, strength, hope, and sometimes even belief in what may seem like the impossible…Kind of like what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book Eat, Pray, Love:
For in hope we have been saved,
but hope that is seen is not hope;
for who hopes for what he already sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.