Denial of Death

To make a long story short, my mom (age 76) is losing her brave 4 1/2 -year battle with advanced colon cancer. She’s had two surgeries and more chemotherapy any human should endure.

Last month her oncologist told her that the chemo is no longer working and her cancer is growing. The doc suggested she try this new drug that will perhaps slow down the cancer, but to the tune of $3,000 USD out-of-pocket. That’s $3,000 per month. Oh did I mention that the drug promises to bring lots of nasty side-effects? Really. Mom didn’t want to hear anything else. We went home, and that’s that.

Now mom tells me she doesn’t have cancer.

This, my friend, is called Denial. It’s a coping mechanism. And you know what? I’m not going to take that away from my mom. She’s tired. She wants her hair to grow back. She wants to stay home and putter around. She tells me I cannot make her take any more pills. She tells me she doesn’t even want to see the oncologist again. But you know, I need to somehow get her to meet with the palliative care doctor. She deserves that much. In the meantime I visit her almost daily. She’s comfortable. She’s happy to live independently and I bring her favorite foods. We talk. We have tea. We pray.

I don’t want to get caught-up with mom’s denial. But I don’t want to infantilize her either. This is tricky business. I’ll write some more on this topic in a couple weeks.

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