Grandma Susie Part I // Cancer Diagnosis // Taylor + Jordan's Grandmother
This is going to be a three part story, with a beautiful wedding in between (you'll understand soon). This isn't easy to write, but I believe it's therapeutic and I believe that letting people in is better than shutting people out.
I'm going to start from the beginning...My grandma had back pain--and she believed it to be from a statin she had taken for a couple of days in May. When it hadn't subsided, she had us take her to urgent care (which, if you knew my grandma, was not something she really ever did--she was tougher than you can imagine). The doctor prescribed her pain medication, but it wasn't helping.
Weeks later she found out she had cancer pushing on her spine. I was at work when they got the news, and as my sister called me to tell me what the initial report was, my fingers began googling even before I knew what I was doing. I started to cry and couldn't keep it together. I excused myself immediately and my boss (Ashley's mom) came in to hug me. She really just held me while I wept--she had read what I had googled, and there was no way to console someone who just found out their grandma was going to die--within a matter of months.
They rushed her to Peninsula Cancer Center where they performed radiation for the next ten days on her spine--they said it could've been days before she would've been paralyzed. My mom was able to take her to every single appointment with my grandpa. I think this was not only helpful to understanding the treatment and next steps and home-care, but also as emotional support.
The crazy thing--my grandma had retired from owning Susie's Daycare three years ago--and Jordan took over. We procrastinated and procrastinated for no good reason, but in the spring we had set a date and made it public: August 26th, 2017. We were having a reunion of sorts to celebrate her four decades of caring for children! She spent most of the reunion in a chair, but over 100 people showed up--parents, kids, grown ups that were once kids in daycare--so many people. I don't think her smile left her face one time. We had Susie's Signatures--red (tomato) and green (split pea) soup (options she gave to us at lunchtime as kids), open faced cheese sandwiches, cinnamon roll ups, and popcorn (my personal favorite). The kids LOVED eating her food from their daycare days and people wrote letters to my grandma and grandpa about their memories and how much they loved them. Later, my aunt compiled this into a special book that had photos and letters side by side for my grandma to read, and for us to look over. It's not really a book you can read without tearing up, honestly.
She had more tests and was diagnosed with terminal cancer, with no known origin. I remember going to the appointment with her, my mom, my grandpa, and my sister. We sat in a conference room, where the doctor came in and explained the situation. He kept saying words and my grandma was nodding. No tears. No look of worry. Nothing. I remember thinking maybe she doesn't understand what this means. She's going to die. No wait, maybe I don't know what this means. Am I not understanding? I don't know. I've never done this before. I moved from being across the table from her to behind her.
The doctor said it was time to start chemotherapy, but that would really only slow down the process, potentially. I thought There's gotta be some other way. This isn't right. This isn't fair. I sat there behind my grandma (so she couldn't see me), crying, holding her shoulder.
The nurse came in and explained everything about her treatment--the days, the treatment, the physical toll, ways we could help, drinks to get, food to buy, medicines to pick up. Because I wasn't her main caregiver (that was my grandpa's and my mom's roll), I almost stopped listening. I just sat there holding my grandma, and you know what she did, she stayed strong. How? How is she not breaking down? I don't understand. I would be out of control right now. I would be angry. Sad. Hurt. Pissed off. Angry. Horrified. Depressed. Furious. How is she holding herself together?
She began chemotherapy once a week, but truthfully, she missed about every other one due to her white blood count being too low or another reason.