Shelley Widhalm

The Town Crier

In Moms and daughters, Multiple sclerosis, Too young, Trying to be professional on November 21, 2010 at 8:30 am

I didn’t know I had leftovers within my emotional makeup. I found out the truth when I covered an event involving survivors of lung cancer and their families. I listened to the stories of men and women who were diagnosed with lung cancer – 17.9 percent nationwide never smoked and another 60 percent had quit smoking.

The survivors said they were asked, “Do you smoke,” a question that they said blames the victim. They said that when heart patients or those with diabetes get sick, they are not asked, “Do you eat healthy?” “Do you exercise?”

One woman said that battling cancer is a frightening experience but that she learned to cope through the support of her family and learning to watercolor. Her daughter said she was hurt, sad and angry and too young to have a mother with cancer.

I wiped at tears as I took notes. I am way too sensitive to be a journalist, I thought as I took more notes.

I inhaled air and a sob came out of my body. I was so embarrassed, especially feeling that tears were all over my face.

I ran to the back of the room, taking more notes and crying.

I felt something come to the surface, something I wanted to keep inside, away from where the tears are ready to sweep away the pain, only if you let them out.

My mother was in the hospital for a week last month. They, at first, thought she had had a stroke but later found that she had a flareup of multiple sclerosis, something she was diagnosed with in the mid-1990s. I knew my mother was sick. She uses a cane. She is exhausted. She forgets words. She misplaces things.
These things I’ve cried over. But I guess I hadn’t finished giving way to all those tears piled up in the muscles and ligaments of my body. I hadn’t cried about my mother’s hospital visit. I had only got teary-eyed and got busy with my own life.

Why have I become the town crier, I began to wonder when I had dried eyes? Where is this pain coming from? I, like the daughter of a lung cancer survivor, am hurt. I am angry. I am scared. I am too young to have a mother with M.S.

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