Hoping for a miracle cure for cancer

Hoping for a miracle cure for cancer

Valeta is gone. She didn’t get a miracle cure. She got metastasized breast cancer that spread into her bones and throughout her organs. She leaves a husband and five kids.

The cancer did its job with persistence and obsessive forward motion, growing and gaining strength with every new and experimental treatment.

The last time I saw her she was talking about the kids, asking me to find and bring resources from the Cancer Support Center so that she could talk to them about dying. The youngest is seven, the oldest 19.

Valeta had that rare ability to be in obvious pain at times, but to seemingly have peace at her core, a gentleness.

I didn’t know her outside of our support group. We had only cancer and being mothers in common.

She was very sick. I was not.  As she moved slower, I grew lighter. As she descended into treatments and transfusions, I began rising out of the sludge of treatment. As she began to wrap her mind and heart around the inevitable, I began to trust that the worst was behind me.

As I began to realize that my life might get back to normal, decline became Valeta’s normal.

She was a keystone for me, the one who helped me understand the spiral of death that cancer sometimes is.

Still, I hoped for a miracle cure. I let my relentlessly researching mind rest, leave the shore and float in the neutral waters where you can see hope and miracles on the horizon like mirages on hot asphalt on a summer day.

I needed for Valeta to live, to be able to see her older daughter graduate from high school and go to college, to see her youngest become a teenager. So did they.

Valeta was fully in the present, tethered to the moment by pain, tethered to her own world by passion for her husband and kids.

The tether snapped, releasing her from pain, but taking her from them.

I especially remember a conversation when she was frustrated with her doctor. She was animated and articulate. She was almost angry. That fight was at her core alongside the gentleness and grace.

I met her youngest daughter once and looking into her eyes was like looking into Valeta’s eyes. She lives on in her children.

I have been a witness to Valeta’s life, and I am a better person for it.

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