My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago. Since then she has gone through many rounds of chemotherapy. She was recently put on a morphine pump and oxygen. She cannot move around a lot without becoming extremely tired and out of breath. She can’t be left at home alone because of her past tendency of severe seizures. We can’t go on our traditional vacation because she can’t fly in a plane with oxygen.
This is my grandmother’s second time having cancer. They believe that the radiation the doctors gave her fifteen years ago when she had breast cancer was too much and put her at risk for cancer later on in life. It came back, and it is worse than before.
Members of our family take turns spending the night with her because my grandfather works nights in Indianapolis. Until recently she spent days alone. Now someone has to be there twenty-four- seven. I usually spend weekends with her. This cuts down on my being able to spend time with any of my friends or my boyfriend.
I can remember when she was a lively, energetic person always wearing me out. She was the one who taught me to do gymnastics; she is the one who taught me to walk, talk, even swim. When I was in elementary school she was my Girl Scout leader, we did all kinds of things in Girl Scouts. She was supposed to live long enough to see me graduate high school and college, watch me get married, and have kids so she could spoil them like she did us.
I believe that family and friends are important to have. I never realized it until Grandma was diagnosed; everyone came together and started to help us. All of my aunts, cousins, and great-grandmothers have come to help clean her home and stay with her at night. We all have come together even though we had been broken for years.
My friends all know about my grandmother, and most have seen her in the shape she is now. They also know how close to her I am and know that without her I am nothing. When grandma is having a bad day, or week, they try to cheer me up and tell me everything is all right. Sometimes they take me out somewhere to get my mind off of it. They put the light back in my life.
The church members have dedicated their Tuesday’s and Thursday’s to come and keep her company. The women have brought food for them to eat so she does not have to get up and cook. Our church members are like family to us and have told us that they would be delighted to spend the days with G-ma if we needed them.
Without the support of our family I do not know what I would do. I would probably go crazy. They have helped me through a lot the past few years. They have helped me “keep my cool.” Without my family and friends I would not exist. I would be another story in the newspaper of a teen’s tragic death.
Even though she might not be with us in the physical world, she will be with us in our hearts. My family and friends will always remind me of the good times, not the bad.