Grandma was 82 when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. No one said it, but we all braced ourselves for what we presumed was the end. How long did she have? How bad would it get? How much longer would she be grandma?
Grandma would have none of it. She was determined that she was going to beat cancer. It didn’t matter that she had advanced heart disease. It didn’t matter she was in her 80’s. It didn’t matter that the doctors were hesitant to proceed with chemotherapy. Grandma was going to beat cancer.
I was between college and law school at the time. So I helped take grandma to her chemo and radiation treatments, back every day for her shot, to the grocery store (she insisted on eating fruits and vegetables at every meal), and to her doctor’s appointments. It was grueling.
But she never complained. She told nurses about her strict, though nourishing, diet. She told other patients about my recently deceased grandpa. She bragged about her grandkids. She cherished the time we spent together. I know she was uncomfortable and tired, yet she never complained.
Ultimately, she won the war. She beat cancer. When she passed away shortly after her 85th birthday, it was heart disease that took her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to enjoy her cancer victory for very long. But enjoy it she did.
I’m not sure where she got her courage and strength. Maybe she leaned on us. Maybe there was an unknown battle she was waging. Maybe it was her faith. Whatever it was I was so honored to witness it, and be part of it.
And I’m definitely thinking about her now that I’m going through my own cancer journey. Like her, I have no intention of losing this battle. I just hope I can be as graceful as she was.