My friend Yvonne has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. The hardest thing about this is that her cancer is not going to go into remission and she was already very sick before she started chemo. She is going to be on chemo the rest of her life. Her cancer affects her bones, blood, and kidneys. When she first got sick, she thought it was because of the stress of her job search and the likelihood that she was going to lose her condo, but when her doctor noticed a dramatic drop in her weight, he was very concerned. She had just been working at the post office for a few days when she got her diagnosis and she put off chemo for months as she tried to hold on to her job, which starts as a temporary position. Even though she has cancer, asthma, and diabetes, she continued working, but she couldn’t keep up because she was so ill.
It was a major blow when she applied for disability and was denied. People say everyone is rejected the first time practically, but it was angering to read the letter that said she could sit down and answer phones. Even when sitting down, she has passed out for up to five minutes and vomited while she was under.
Our favorite thing to do together was to cook, but she hardly has an appetite anymore and if she does, she often throws up when she eats. She’s malnourished. There were so many things I was hoping to do with her or help her do, but how do you do those things when you feel so awful?
I was thinking about what her bucket list would be. She might be around for a long time. We don’t know. But I’ve learned that you can’t just assume your loved ones are going to be around to do the things you’ve always wanted. She jokes about going on a long, long cruise.
I love Yvonne’s stories. She has so many great ones and I wish I had recorded her and transcribed them all. She would love to go to Europe again, but I don’t know how she would handle that. I was thinking it would be great to go somewhere local with a view – somewhere quiet (without my 5 children) where I could ask her to tell her stories again as she feels able. It would be awesome to just have food delivered and housekeeping to deal with any messes so I could just focus on documenting her memories. Many of them made me laugh hysterically. Others amazed or inspired me. You would not believe everything she’s gone through in her life!
I’m going to list some things I want to write about – things I want my kids to be able to read for the rest of their lives. They love Yvonne so much and she is family to us. Tell me which ones you would like to hear about the most! 😀
Putting on her mom’s vanishing cream with her sister and thinking it would make them invisible! I think this is my personal favorite.
The blind date that never was. The reason she was stood up is both sad and funny. I laughed until I cried though.
Various stories of survival.
The accident that left her unable to walk for a year.
Her many, many siblings.
Her time as a midwife.
The time she met Matthew McConaughey!!!! My sister made her call her and tell it again.
Her dog Scruffy! This dog could have been in movies. 😀
Stories of growing up African American. It still blows my mind that it wasn’t that long ago when people had to drink from separate drinking fountains, use separate bathrooms, etc.. She never learned to swim because she wasn’t allowed in the pool. I can’t even comprehend being treated like this.
The contest she won at a bar with no plans to do so. Oh man. Another one where I cried tears of laughter!
My goal is to write her stories with her “voice”. I never want to forget the way she tells them.