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The Walk Through Cancer

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My Grandma was my entire world while I was growing up. She was my everything, I mean my EVERTHING. I remember her mostly for the way she always made me feel better when I felt like nothing else could go right. She wiped my tears, no matter why I was crying. She was my personal diary, she knew everything. My Grandma never told a secret, she was my bookkeeper. Her smile was an award winning smile. Her kindness was a gift from above. She would give the shirt off of her back to a complete stranger. She always kept me out of trouble. She never let me down. She always had my back and my front. Nobody in this world could ever amount to her in this world. My Grandma was one in a million to me and too this day, she still is. We went through a tough journey together. Our journey started when she was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. Being fairly young, I didn’t quite understand what having Cancer meant. I thought my Grandma was just sick and she would get better with time. Who truly understands what surgery means at a young age if you’ve never experienced it before? My Grandma had a lot of surgeries throughout our journey together. I remember daddy telling me one day, “We don’t know if mawmaw is going to make it so if it does happen, you have to say bye-bye to mawmaw.” I didn’t truly understood what he meant so I laughed it off and said, “Mawmaw isn’t going anywhere.” While she was in the hospital after having her bladder removed, her kidneys started to shut down. I saw the hurt in my parent’s eyes. I remember asking, “What’s wrong with my mawmaw?” Well, she lived through the Bladder Cancer. That was a miracle from God. When we thought everything was clear, my grandma got Lung Cancer and Breast Cancer. I was a little older at this time and by now, I understood what Cancer meant. I knew it was very life-threatening. I remember that I had really long hair and Mawmaw told me that she was going to lose all of her hair. So, I went and got all my hair cut off so mawmaw wouldn’t feel alone. Well, the Chemotherapy didn’t work but if I remember correctly, Radiation did. Mawmaw had surgery and had part of her lung and breast removed. We spent countless nights in the hospital. We made so many trips back and forth to the doctor. We basically lived in Douglas Wellstar General Hospital. Well, she survived those Cancers. Once again, it was a miracle from God. In 2008, I was 13 years old. I understood everything at this point. I knew why everything was happening and how things happened. I knew why mawmaw made so many trips to the doctors and why she had so many surgeries. On September 22nd, 2008; we were told that she had Reoccurring Bladder Cancer. When the doctors went to take out the cancer cells from the Bladder Cancer, they left some dead cancer cells in her body. They came back to life and attached to her rectum. So basically, she had Rectum Cancer. We were told she had 3-6 months to live. We never knew 3 short weeks later… We would be planning a funeral. My momma explained to me what was wrong, why it happened, and how long mawmaw had left here on Earth. The news hit me like an earthquake. It shook my little world into pieces. At that point, I knew I had to spend as much time as I could with her before God called her home. We continued to live our lives like we did before we got the news. We knew deep down she was eventually going to pass away but we didn’t let it stop us from enjoying our time with her. I still went to school every day, came home, sat and laughed with mawmaw like before she got diagnosed. We still went to get pedicures, went shopping, and just enjoyed our last days together. We enjoyed the days until she started getting sick... Mawmaw started getting sick around the beginning of October in 2008. She was put into hospice care for about a week in Riverdale because we didn’t know how to take care a cancer patient who was ill. Until we grasped the fact of it, she lived in hospice care. Mawmaw hated it and trust me, I hated it for her too. Those were the days that she didn’t know who I was. She thought I was a stranger. She would talk about off the wall stuff and all you could do was agree with her. Her feelings got hurt very easily, sometimes she was even the most hateful woman you could come into contact with. But I didn’t mind because I knew her life was coming to an end. We decided that we wanted mawmaw to pass away at home, where she would be comfortable. We wanted to be there when it happened, instead of getting a call that she had passed away. Hospice nurses came out to the house and stayed with her while my parents were at work and my sister and I were at school. I didn’t like the Hospice nurses because they always told me that mawmaw didn’t have much time left. I know they’re supposed to help you through things but I didn’t like a stranger trying to help me through it. I was glad to see them leave when I got home from school. I didn’t mind sitting up late with mawmaw, it never bothered me. She didn’t remember me most of the time but I knew it wasn’t her fault. Yes, it broke my heart into a million pieces but I knew she didn’t mean it. Everything was changing so fast. My mawmaw was turning into a totally different person. She would barely talk and she would barely move. I knew when she had to get a hospital bed and an oxygen tank that it was almost time for her to be called home to Heaven. Eventually, all mawmaw did was lie in the hospital bed. She couldn’t speak or barely moved. But, she would squeeze your hand when you talked to her to let you know she heard you. Hospice gave us a death book. It showed the signs to death; we dreaded seeing every sign in mawmaw. When it came to last one, we called all the family and told them that they needed to come down because mawmaw was at her last days. I was still trying to prepare myself for the worst but at the same time, I was still hoping for the best. It was a Monday when everybody from out of town got to the house. We all shared some memories of mawmaw and of course, some of us cried a few tears. I still couldn’t grasp the fact that I was going to lose my whole world in a week or so. I thought it would be a week before she passed away. But, I was totally wrong. Wednesday morning, October 15th, 2008; we called a priest out to pray over my mawmaw for some kind of miracle. At 11:37 a.m., my mawmaw went to be with the Lord. At that moment, I literally felt the whole world come down on my shoulders. My big sister looked at me and said, “She’s gone.” I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t do anything. I stood at her bed and just stared in disbelief. I didn’t want to think, do, or even say. I was trying to put it together in my head. I remember walking into the kitchen where my Nana was and dropping to my knees. I begged God to let her come back. I begged and begged and begged and begged until all I was doing was saying, “Please” on my knees while crying hysterically. I begged God to take me with her because I didn’t want to go a day without her. I blamed myself and pleaded to God to please take me with her too. At that point, I felt like I was paralyzed with pain running through my body. My Nana came over to me and held me until she couldn’t stand it anymore. I didn’t want anybody touching me or even talking to me. Nana never knew what to say but she tried her absolute best to calm me down. She kept telling me, “There’s nothing you could’ve done. It’s not your fault. Your mawmaw was very sick and it was only a matter of time.” What was I supposed to do? Stop crying and jump up? I still couldn’t breathe. I still couldn’t stop crying. I still couldn’t talk without crying. I still felt like God should’ve taken me with my mawmaw. I finally calmed myself down and about the time I did, my mom called my sisters friend mom to come get me and my cousin because she knew I wouldn’t have been able to handle seeing mawmaw being carried out on the carrier to the hearse. I knew at that point, my life was never going to be the same. Life wasn’t going to be easy anymore. Honestly, I knew at that point; I was going to turn into a whole different person. I never thought I would lose my mawmaw at 13 years old. She wouldn’t get to see me graduate, start college, get married, or simply; just enjoy the little things with me. The thing that hurt me most is she passed away right before my Passing of the Torch in 8th grade. I didn’t even want to participate just because mawmaw wasn’t going to be there. My journey with my mawmaw was a battle. To this day, some of the memories replay in my head over and over again. I wouldn’t trade any of the long nights, countless hospital visits, etc., for all the money in the world. I’ve learned to appreciate what you have and who you have in your life because you never know when they’re going to get called home. My mawmaw is now my guardian angel. I know I’m safe wherever I go because I have her on my side. Cancer is nothing to play with because it can change your life in a blink of an eye. Mine and my mawmaw’s journey will be a forever memory that I’ll never forget and something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

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