Today I did something I’ve never done before. I ordered hats, scarves, and girly things online. This wasn’t just an ordinary order, though. It was an order of love.
My mother-in-law has gone for her port to be put in today. With that comes the acknowledgement and acceptance that she will ultimately lose her hair.
Easing onto the couch Sunday afternoon, she failed to find a comfortable position. We propped her up with pillows in an effort to help. Raising the foot rest on that end of the couch seemed to relieve some of the pressure. She sat in a reclining position trying to force a smile as she looked at us trying to hold a conversation about anything but what she was facing. Finally, she turned to me and said, “I do not want to lose my hair.” She paused for a moment before she continued, “I am too proud to walk around like that. I want a wig, something to cover my head, maybe even a scarf.”
And her wish was my command.
I know once treatment begins, she will gradually lose her hair within two weeks. Wanting her to have something prior to losing her hair, I found a site today called TLC, which specializes in products for women that are facing hair loss due to chemotherapy treatment.
I spent a good bit of time on the website as I looked through every type of wig and hair accessory you can imagine. Having taken a picture of my mother-in-law Sunday, I held it up to the computer to match her hair style and color as closely as possible. While I know it will be an adjustment, at least she can rest in the knowledge that she will have her items in two to three business days, as I “rushed” the order. She will have these items in time to play with them and see what better suits her before she loses her hair. And I’ll admit, once pressing “Submit Order,” tears stung my eyes as the reality of the situation was before me, and this made it more “real” some how.
Knowing women like a variety, I purchased a wig, hat, scarf, turban, and even what they call an “add-a-bang.” This item is to be worn with hats, scarves, and turbans where it will look like you have some peek-a-boo bangs in the front. They will come full enough where she can choose to show the entire bang, or she can have them thinned to her liking. I tried to match the color as close as possible, and I will keep my fingers crossed that she’ll like and actually use these items when I give them to her.
At a time like this, we focus so much on how helpless we feel. My husband struggles with this. He is a Mr. Fix-It, but there is no way that he can possibly fix this. Unfortunately, this is the hand of cards she was dealt, and she has no choice but to take those cards and play the game with WINNING ultimately the goal. Beat this thing! Kick cancer’s back-side! That is what we all hope to see in her future.
There’s so much you can’t do … for example, you can’t wave a magic wand and make this go away. You can’t wish it or will it away. No matter how angry you get, you cannot change the fact that she has this rare form of cancer in her intestines and abdominal area. As much as we say we hate this, it does not make it go away. It’s here, and all we can do is help her and love her through this.
I told my husband this weekend to stop focusing on what he CAN’T do. Shift your focus to what you CAN do!
“You do not possess the power to heal your mother,” I told him. If we possessed that kind of power, no one would ever suffer or go through anything ever again. We’d simply reach out and touch our mothers, fathers, and other family members to heal them from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. Ah, but that is not our place, and we do not possess those powers. Father God does, though, and so we pray with all our might for our family and friends. We know God hears our prayers, and we hope it will be His will to heal them on this earth.
Since we are not guaranteed a miracle or a healing touch from God, what we CAN do is support her, love her, and be there for her. We can take her food we fix in hopes that she will have an appetite and feel like eating it. We can go around looking for comfort items she may need, and we can place orders like the one I placed earlier today.
Walking around moping about it will NOT change what she is going through. She’s facing one of the biggest battles of her life. But, she is not alone. She has all of us and GOD on her side.
My husband started taking a little trip down Guilt Lane, which also does no good at all. Shortly after her diagnosis, he started thinking of all the missed birthdays and occasions when he should have remembered to call or visit but didn’t. Beating oneself up will NOT change what she is facing, though. I told him to go easy on himself. He can’t go back and change the past, but what he can do from this day forward is spend quality time with his mom when he is able and when she feels up to it.
Human beings are so quick to jump on the Pity Train and go right on down Guilt Lane. We beat ourselves up so badly with all the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” we come up with. It is all non productive!
Focus on what you CAN do at this stage of the game. Take back your power and stand tall. She needs us to be strong when she is feeling weak.
And so we move ahead, unsure of what the future holds … but having complete faith in the One who holds the future.