Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Moments of Empathy

While reading the posts on my favorite blogs today, I came across some Vic Grace had written that rang a bell in my memory cache. It was actually a "paid post" for razors or razor blades but Vic had written it around how her step-daughter - a teacher -had shaved her head for a fund raiser for cancer victims.

Now, those of you who have been following my blog for a while most likely recall my having mentioned I was diagnosed 4 1/2 years ago this past March with colo-rectal cancer. As a result of that diagnosis, I had chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and then, more chemotherapy.

But what I don't think I ever mentioned in my blog was my son's reaction to the news I had cancer and was about to start receiving chemo.

The day I had the first colonoscopy, after which the surgeon informed me of his findings and laid out his plans for me for the next ten months or more, when my daughter and I got home that afternoon, the first thing she did was to go upstairs -out of earshot from me -and call her brother. He wasn't home when she called -as he was at work -but she had left a brief message on his answering machine with the crux of it being "Mom has cancer."

Now, keep in mind here, my son is a very soft-hearted, sentimental slob and he is also, perhaps to many who know him well, he can at times be what could be construed as still a "Mama's boy." No, he's not a siss or a wuss or whatever along those lines, but he is very close to me and as such, he does worry from time to time about how old Mom is holding up ya know.

Later that afternoon, the phone rang and I answered it. It was my son on the other end and as soon as he realized it was me he was talking to, I could hear his voice cracking and it was obvious he was fighting back tears.

I told him what was going on, that I would be starting chemo in two days and in five days, the radiation treatments would begin. Once those ended, I would get about a month's reprieve and then the surgery. But, I stressed to my son the surgeon felt very confident that we had discovered the tumor early enough - it had not invaded the wall of the colon that he could tell -and that was a positive factor. I kept telling the boy everything was going to be just fine, no problem, it will all be ok.

He told me he was making arrangements that he would come up home that weekend -would be here Friday night probably between 9 and 10 p.m. I told him he didn't have to make the trip but he insisted he wanted to be here, to "hold my hand" ya know, that sort of thing.

Friday night rolled around and he pulled in before 10 p.m. - pretty much right on schedule of what he'd predicted. I was sitting in my "normal" spot - parked in front of the old computer of course and he strolls in wearing this raggy old Army jacket and he had the scruffiest knit cap on I'd seen in ages too. He stood in the doorway between the dining room and living room, talking to me but made no move to take his coat -or hat -off and I chided him that he could take them off because we'd paid the oil bill and we did have heat -plenty of it too -in the house.

Ok, he took the coat off and hung it on the back of a dining room chair and then, finally reached up and took the cap off, revealing a very, very bald, newly shaved head!

I spluttered a bit, finally regained my speech abilities and asked him what in blazes he'd done to his head.

The response was "Don't get mad Mom, cause I did this as a move in empathy for you." Then it dawned on me that he was figuring after I started the chemotherapy, I would be losing my hair. I hadn't even given that any thought, had never even broached that subject with my doctor for that matter. Oh well, I figured if I lose it, I lose it -not much to be done about that ya know.

About a week later, I had another appointment with my doctor - the surgeon - to discuss the chemo, radiation and then the surgery -all that stuff. In the course of that visit, I mentioned to my doctor (good old Dr. Timothy Phillips) what my son had done and why. Dr. Phillips broke up laughing - actually he slapped his knee and howled.

"Well," he told me, "That is a nice gesture for sure on his part. However, he shaved his head for nothing because the chemo you will be getting will not cause you to lose your hair."

My girls and I had a good laugh that night about Clate's kind of jumping the gun to go get his head shaved -in empathy - for me

My son's always been that way - not just doing things like that for me, but he would do that for anyone if he thought it would give them even a little bit of moral support. Just one of the things I love him just a tad more for being that way ya know and it makes me that much more thankful too that I have him -funny, sweet, loveable, quirky lug that he is -in my life.

He is a gem, folks. One of a kind, for sure and for that, on many occasions I have also been really thankful that he is my only son as I'm not sure my sanity would or could have survived had there been another like him!

But all jokes aside, he is definitely, as we always say too, my "favorite son" -but only because he is the only one! I sure wouldn't trade him for all the money in the world, all the tea in China but I'm sure by now, you've already figured that out too.

Colo-rectal+cancer" rel="tag">Colo-rectal cancer
Chemotherapy" rel="tag">Chemotherapy
Dr.+Timothy+Phillips" rel="tag">Dr. Timothy Phillips


Theresa said...

Wow what a great story- if you didn't know before how much you mean to your son you do now.

Paula said...

Such a sweet story and such a sweet son! What a blessing our kids are, huh?!

Saedel said...

Nice story. I'm moved by this kind of post because I love my mother and I'm missing her right now. I envy your son because I'm not the demonstrative type if you know what I mean. But I always try to show my love for her (and for my father) in my own ways.


Travis said...

He sounds like a great kid.

Congrats, from one survivor to another. I was diagnosed with Hodgkins just over 13 years ago, had surgery and radiation, and have been cancer free ever since.

SnoopMurph said...

I am very moved by your son's gesture. Definitely a gem! Great post!

Patois said...

What a wonderful son you have produced.

Smalltown RN said...

Cancer is a desease that affects everyone...when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer and the possibility of chemo and hair loss...well I too shaved my head...she had the most wonderful long locks...and guess what...she didn't lose her hair either...but I would do it again in a heart beat was the easiest thing to do for my little girl....

captain lifecruiser said...

Awwww. Wasn't that sweet of him! A real caring son.

Anyway: I'm glad everything went well :-)

lattégirl said...

What an amazing gesture his was! I don't know of too many people -- sons, daughters or even close friends -- who would have had that sort of idea. You are blessed!