Okay, so we found out on Wednesday that my mom has stage 3 ovarian cancer. And that’s about the gist of all we know, because my relatives are fucking morons, but I’ll get to that.
The plan was that they were going to send her to an assisted living home so she can get strong enough for surgery (she also has Multiple Sclerosis, which I just found out today apparently throws a big fucking wrench into the whole cancer treatment thing), and they’d remove her ovaries, then do chemo to make sure they got it all.
I had a shit ton of questions, but when I talked to my mom on Wednesday she had no answers. So I gave her a list of questions to ask and told her to keep me posted.
And that was the last I heard from either my mom or my sister, until today. My sister called me, bawling hysterically, because she’s overwhelmed and she’s just feeling too much pressure and people keep asking her questions and my mom is freaking out and my uncles are calling her nonstop and she doesn’t know anything and it’s all too much and she just can’t handle it and can I please come out, please, and handle it?
Fuck. “Let me call Kazander. I’ll see what we can do.”
“Well, could you come in time for her first chemo treatment?”
“I’m sure I will. It’s going to take time for her to get her strength up for the surgery.”
“Her first treatment is on Monday.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
Pause. “You can’t be serious.”
“That’s what they told us.”
And you didn’t fucking think to ask why?
“Please, Jen, can you get here?”
“It’s fucking Saturday.”
“I’m in Vegas.”
“Please, just please?”
“When did they decide to change the plan?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why are they doing chemo first? Is she worse than they thought?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well what were the results of her tests? If she’s not strong enough for surgery, chances are she’s not strong enough for chemo. That’s not a decision they would’ve come to lightly.”
“I don’t know, we never saw the results.”
“So you’re saying you literally know nothing about it? No prognosis, no plan for treatment, nothing? You’ve both been there for three days and you don’t know a goddamn thing? How is that possible?”
“I’m sorry, don’t yell at me! I just don’t know what to do.”
And then she started sobbing for like five minutes straight, and I couldn’t understand a damn word she said until she calmed down.
Alright, I thought to myself, trying to be very gentle with her. This isn’t good. Something changed, something’s wrong. I need to find out what happened to change the plan.
But first, deal with my sister. Baby steps.
“Has anyone gone over the stuff she needs to know before the treatment? Has anyone explained anything?”
“No doctor has come by to talk to us. I just don’t know. I can’t do it, Jen. I’m so overwhelmed. Please, come here.”
And of course, she’s still crying, and I can hear my mom crying in the background.
God mother fucking dammit.
“Let me see what I can do. I’ll call you back.”
“Thank you, Jen!”
“I make no promises. Tell me you understand that.”
“I know, just please, please come here. We already lost Dad.”
Yeah, like two years ago.
“I can’t lose Mom, too. Please come here. I can’t do this.”
Keep in mind, I’m still fighting a cold (yeah, me having a cold around a chemo patient is a fantastic fucking idea. Let’s do that), and still dealing with a breakup.
This is less than ideal.
So I called Kazander, told him what was going on. After looking at a random flight on his phone, we quickly determined that we didn’t have the money to fly me and my kid out there that quick. Maybe it was possible if it was just me, and we could get a sitter for the kid.
Which I would’ve greatly preferred. But no such luck with my family, and I was still waiting for an answer from a friend.
So I called my sister back, and asked if my mom could cover it, and of course my sister didn’t know, and was too overwhelmed to figure it out (even though she’s becoming my mom’s power of attorney. Yeah, that’ll go well) and my mom was still crying, and my uncle had called to say goodnight, and asked my sister if she was going to be staying there with my mom, which – and dude, I’m not making this shit up – was enough to overwhelm her all over again, and Jen, this is just too much, and God fucking dammit, could they be any more pathetic? I mean, if they really tried?
Fine. I’ll figure some motherfucking thing out.
Keep in mind this is like 5pm, okay. Saturday is almost over.
So I called Kazander again (who was out with friends).
“Look, I’ve got to find a way to make this happen. Do we have any options?”
He sighed. “Let me call my dad.”
Meanwhile, I had told star on Thursday about my mom’s diagnosis. She immediately asked if I wanted to fly out to see her, and offered to get me out there, that she had miles I could use. I thanked her, and told her that it was just too early, we didn’t know anything yet, and I just didn’t know.
I don’t like my mom or my sister. I didn’t want to fly out there unless I had to.
And now, apparently, I had to. By fucking Monday morning.
God fucking dammit.
And to make matters worse, star and I had plans to hang out on Thursday, that, on top of asking her for this massive fucking favor, I now had to cancel.
So I texted star, asking her if the offer was still on the table, and asking if it was possible to make it happen tonight or tomorrow. Meanwhile, Kazander was on the phone with his parents, sister, and uncle, moving things around different bank accounts, figuring out how they could make it work.
And then my friend texted me back. No, I don’t have a sitter. I’m going to have to take a 5-year-old to the oncology ward of a hospital.
So I texted star.
“Oh fuck, nevermind. I just found out I don’t have a sitter. I have to take my kid with me.”
And y’all have to understand something about me. When I’m under pressure, I get into this ultra-cold, radioactive, psycho-bitch mode. No emotions, no feelings, not even really any compassion. One-track mind. Handle what needs to be fucking handled. Cry about it later, once it’s taken care of.
And I’m serious, I’m mean. It’s not going to be pretty. But I’m not staying out in North Carolina for fucking months, okay. I’ve got a lot of really unpleasant shit I need to do, and not a lot of time to do it. I don’t care if it hurts your goddamn feelings.
If the building you’re standing in starts crumbling around you, are you going to stand there and cry because the security guard or whatever yelled at you to run to the exit? Or are you going to get the fuck out of the building first, and then cry?
That’s my mindset. That’s my focus. That’s my priority. Handle the unpleasant shit first. Emotions later. Get shit started. Streamline the process. Put everyone in their place. Give my sister time to breathe. Then, once it’s stable enough that she can take over, go back home.
Plan. Priorities. Control. Efficiency. Get it done.
And star came closer than anyone ever has to completely shattering that focus, with five little words.
Ok, so two flights out…
Jesus Christ, that’s too much.
She insisted, and right around then was when I got a text from my sister in law, saying that she couldn’t pay back the money she owed us yet, and I still hadn’t heard back from Kazander, and it was now 5:45 in the evening, and I was juggling three text conversations with being on the phone with my mom’s nurses, trying to figure out what she needed to do tomorrow to prepare for her chemo, because it just wasn’t working trying to explain it to my mom and sister, and yes there is something wrong, but the nurses aren’t allowed to discuss it, I’ll have to talk to the doctor, and I was quickly running out of time and options.
I accepted star’s offer, gave her the info she needed, and she got us a flight that’ll land in North Carolina just after midnight on Monday morning.
In time for my mom’s chemo appointment.
And honestly, for a moment I just needed to sit down. That was the biggest thing, whether I could get there, and star got me there.
Everything else could wait five minutes.
So I called the hospital, again. I found out when the doctor would be there in the morning and arranged for him to call me, so I can get her prognosis and treatment information, and find out what the hell happened.
Then I had to figure out what the hell I was going to do about the kid’s school. I got some things together, and decided that the stuff I couldn’t easily transport, she’ll just have to catch up on when we get home (yet another reason why I won’t be staying there long). I’ll get her ahead in a couple of her other classes so she won’t be overwhelmed.
So I’m prepared, I have a plan, I have concrete steps that I can take to make measurable forward progress. I’m good.
And I’m fucking pissed.
Because my mom, while psychotic, is a grown ass woman. My sister is 29 goddamn years old. She’s a grown ass woman. And my mom has made it clear which one of her daughters she prefers taking care of her (which is totally fine by me, by the way. I don’t want to deal with the bitch any more than I have to).
These are fucking adults, okay? Grownups. But they can’t handle stress for shit.
And I’m pissed because I’m always the bad fucking daughter, and I’m selfish, and cold, and insensitive, and just fuck me. I’m the one who destroyed our family, I’m the one no one wants to acknowledge.
Until shit goes wrong. Shit goes wrong, and suddenly I stop being the bad fucking daughter and become the motherfucking Messiah because they need help and can’t function under any kind of stress whatsoever.
And now I have to drop my whole life and fuck with my daughter’s education and go out there to handle the shit they can’t, because as much as I hate them, I just can’t bring myself to abandon them. Not now, not to this.
Because at the end of the day, it wouldn’t have mattered if I couldn’t afford a flight or if the flights were sold out or if star hadn’t been able to help me. All that would’ve mattered is that I wasn’t there. I didn’t show up.
And I’m a monster, yes, but I’m not going to let myself become the monster they make me out to be.
They need the big bad wolf, and the big bad wolf will be there.
So yay, Jen swoops in with her cape and tattoos to be the badass superhero and save the day.
Tomorrow, she goes back to being the one no one cares about.