My mom has had a cough for about a month now. Nothing serious, but not connected to any illness. Just a dry cough, relatively infrequent, not getting better, not getting worse. It doesn't prevent her from doing anything she likes to do in life. It's just kind of annoying.
My stepdad has been asking her to go to the doctor and have it checked out. We're not really doctor-goers, my mom and I. She was married to a doc and I'm the child of one, and in general the family members of doctors don't go see their physician unless they are bleeding out or have a compound fracture, and even then they skip their family doctor and just go to the ER. But last night, when my stepdad mentioned to me how long my mom has been coughing and how he wishes she'd go to the doctor, something clicked for me. "Mom," I said, "GO TO THE DOCTOR. Sometimes people who have a random cough like this have lung cancer, and I need you to prove to me that you're not one of those people."
She e-mailed me today to say that she had an appointment for next week, which makes me happy. Not a moment too soon, I say. And I was calm, and hopeful that it will be nothing, a wasted visit, an unnecessary copay, and then we can all rest easy for Thanksgiving and the arrival of my stepbrother's new baby and my mom's birthday and all the rest of the holiday fun that lies ahead.
Then I read this.
And now I'm kinda freaking out on a lot of levels. I've read Melissa's blog for a while now, so I'm freaking out for her, hoping that it's nothing but feeling an awful twinge of the familiar. And I'm freaking out for my mom, because wow, well that cough could actually be something. And I'm freaking out for me because since John's death, I've been acutely aware of the fact that my parents are ageing, and that I don't know how I could live without any of them. They are all healthy and vibrant and unbearably important to me. They aren't allowed to get old, and they are most certainly not allowed to get sick. And no one else close to me, certainly not the person closest to me after my husband and my children, is allowed to have cancer.
It cannot be so, not for Melissa, not for my mom. Mom, prove to me next week that it's not so. And thank you for going to the doctor.