On June 6, 2000, Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  I had taken her to the hospital for a  bronchoscopy and was sitting in the waiting room during the procedure.  A nurse came out and asked for me, bringing me back to the procedure room.  Mother was lying there, knocked out, with tubes up her nose and her mouth open wide, looking very vulnerable and fragile.  The doctor pointed to the screen, where a white mass was very visible in her greyish lung.  He asked if he could biopsy the mass, believing it to be cancer, but not one hundred percent sure.

Earlier that day, Mother and I had discussed the possibility of her having a biopsy if there was, indeed, something in her lung. The x-rays had shown a shadow, and her doctor had ordered the bronchoscopy  to see what it was.  After Daddy’s painful and quick-spreading cancer four years earlier, Mother did not want a biopsy, because she thought that if the tumor was opened, the cancer would spread faster.  I had tried to convince her that knowing for certain what she was dealing with would make any treatment easier, but she insisted that she did not want a biopsy, because she wasn’t going to have any treatments anyway.  Daddy had died faster because of them, she said. Though I did not agree, I understood her.  She missed him.  She was making her wishes clear to me because she knew I would follow them, and had given me her medical power of attorney, over my six older siblings, to be sure they were followed.

I told the doctor that Mother did not want a biopsy, and he knew that.  He pointed to the screen again, and enlarged the image of the mass, asking again if he could do a biopsy.  I looked at Mother, saw her there, helpless, at my mercy, and said no, he could not do the biopsy, because she did not want it. He was not pleased.  I returned to the waiting room, and cried. My Mommy was going to die!

Two months and twenty-one days later, on August 27th, 2000, I became an orphan at the age of twenty-five.


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