When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last year I was amazed that the doctor called her at her office, during work hours, to tell her the news. I guess I thought these things were told to you in person, maybe with the support of a family member or friend by your side. I was even more surprised when we went to meet with him and he called her cancer “garden variety breast cancer”. I suppose that’s a good thing, but when you think of your mother and cancer, “garden variety” are not the next words you expect to hear. I was almost offended. This is my mother we were talking about.
In my mind there is nothing “garden variety” about her! It was a scary time for all of us. The fear of the unknown can be a very powerful thing. There are endless horrible answers to the question “What if…?” What if it spreads? What if they can’t remove it? What if she has to be off of work for an extended period of time? There were many appointments, two surgeries and a week of intense radiation treatment. There was my sister passing out at one of the appointments that she took my mother to. There was bonding in hospital cafeterias between my siblings and I as we all stepped up to do what we could to help our mother.
Looking back now, it all seems to have gone surprisingly quick. I had these ideas in my head of every person who has cancer having to go for treatment for many weeks, losing their hair, becoming very weak and sick. My mother had none of that. She was tired at times, she was frustrated and she longed for a holistic cure. However, because her cancer was of the “garden variety”, she qualified for a quick plan of action for recovery.
I am happy to report that nearly a year and a half later and she is doing well. I share this story just to let others know that “garden variety” is not a bad thing. It means that it’s something the doctors see all of the time and are very experienced at treating. They have in-depth knowledge of how the cancer reacts, what needs to be done and what the best treatment options are.
So while my mother in all of her feistiness is anything but your typical garden-variety type of lady, I was happy her cancer was a common type that was fairly easily diagnosed and treated.