A little over six years ago I learned that I had qualified for my first ice fishing championship held up in Minnesota. I was geeked, my father was supportive, my brother really didn’t know what to make of it, it was more like “Ice fishing has a championship, really?” My mother was, well she was mom being mom, supportive and proud, she told all her friends from the women’s college group to her sewing guild.
When I got home from Minnesota that following December, a week later we were in the hospital. For about a month we thought mom was dealing with a sore throat, but the weekend before Christmas we learned it was something different, and much worse. The cancer was back.
A little less than five years before that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My “ma” was as pigheaded as they come, something most folks say they see in me, she got into the books and had second opinions back then. You see, it wasn’t that she doubted the fact, just the treatment. Originally she was told radiation would be enough, that wasn’t good enough, she wanted no doubt that when she beat this thing it would be gone for good. While most folks dread the thought of chemo treatments, she demanded it, and got it.
With the bad news that December came some confusion at first, the experts said she could possibly live a few more years. Yet one young doctor was able to tell the truth, and not sugar coat what would really happen. Six months or less, no more.
The cancer was in new places, first in her vocal chords and right leg. It moved fast from place to place in the weeks that followed. It seemed every two weeks the doctors found it had spread to a new location. Finally the family doctors called mom and dad in to the office to say it spread to her brain. It wouldn’t be long now. They cried, not just my folks, but the two doctors from a practice in Toledo. The same two my family has been seeing since we moved to Ida back in 1970. Those doctors are what the kids call today, “old school”.
St. Valentine’s Day was the last day my mother could speak, and three days later, five years ago today my mother passed away. It was also a Tuesday. A few more months and mom would have been a breast cancer survivor and would have been able to celebrate my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. That September she would have seen my brother get married to the mother of her first grandchild.
Funny how some things work out in this lifetime, yesterday I received an email from one of the young ladies I used to work with in Dundee. She was just a kid then, a friend’s daughter who worked in the department next to mine. “Mansy” I called her most of the time, Amanda when she came over to get tutored in English for the community college. The beagles, Shelby and Piper loved her so you know what a good person she has to be, even if she did want to put ketchup on everything.
Today, Mandy Ausmus is married to Aaron, another one of the “good” kids I used to work with. She has graduated and working for the U of M Hospital as a respiratory therapist. She is also the cheerleader coach for her alma mater, Summerfield. The email was about the big game tonight between the Bulldogs and Whiteford in a TCC basketball showdown at the high school in Petersburg.
How does this all tie in you might be asking at this point? Tonight, at the basketball game they will be celebrating breast cancer surviors and help to fight this disease. Five years to the day, on a Tuesday.