Do you have them? Cancer care giver flashbacks.
As a caregiver for many years, Leroy and I experienced many ups and downs of his cancer ordeal. As an example, I will always remember the day two doctors came into his hospital room after they found the mass in his brain and told him he had just a few months to live. So matter of fact and with hardly any emotion, they looked at us and made this stunning announcement. After saying “You two probably want to be alone,” they walked out the door. I can still see them today.
The list of these kinds of moments along the way, are long. Some are good memories, most are not.
And so it was over the weekend I found myself in a physical therapy room, witnessing a teenage boy taking his very first steps. His medical problems are many, but with great medical care, he had reached the point where he was well enough to take these first steps. With the help of parallel bars, strong physical therapists and a Mom and Dad and brother who were there to cheer him on, he was ready to stand and take those steps.
His hands were trembling as he locked-on to the bars. His legs were threatening to buckle, but he wouldn’t allow it. A little nudge and a lot of urging, he willed his legs to move. It hurt, it was hard, but he slowly made his walk to the end of the bars where a weeping Mom and a grateful Dad hugged him so hard, you could feel their pride fill the room.
The sigh of relief and accomplishment was loud and well deserved and it was at that moment, I had my cancer flashback.
Leroy had to learn to walk again after a long and difficult surgery to replace a vertebrae in his back. He had worked so hard in PT to get to the point that his therapists thought he was ready to try those first steps too. I can see him lifting himself out of that wheelchair and holding onto those bars with every ounce of strength he had. His wrists were red from the force of his hold, his forearms were shaking under the weight of every one of those 6 feet and 5 inches, but nothing was going to stop him from taking those steps.
And there I was in that room, looking at this young man, but seeing some one else and remembering.
I haven’t had a cancer flashback in a very long time. This was so vivid and to think that an image so strong was still living inside my head caught me by surprise.
I heard that same sigh of relief that day, so many years ago too.
Flashbacks of a time long ago.