Part II: The Second I Found Out my Mother Had Cancer

How Hard it Was To Tell Me and How My World Collapsed When I Found Out

{ My mother holding me at my second baptism }

{ continued…} We left off here:

“Katie…” my mother started.

“What?! What is it? Please somebody spit it out! You’re killing me!”

They each would start to speak and stop, each taking over the others words.

“Your mother…” my father pitched in.

I had absolutely no clue in the whole world what they were going to say to me. No context whatsoever except they were having a darned time getting it out!

“You mother has…” he said and at the same time my mother finished the sentence with my Dad,

“I have cancer honey. I have Cancer.”

I think people now know whats coming before the word is even said. All we have to hear is, “I have..” Then the hard sound of the “C” starts and its over. When my mom said, “cancer” it was weird. Felt foriegn. Like someone else just said that. No my mom. Not mom. She said and as light a word as it is, ending in a soft sound, it was the heaviest word I’ve ever heard. The space around the room closed in and then expanded around me. Felt like I could feel stillness in every single particle in the room, the air, the sky outside the bay window. Cancer though, that word cancer levitated there, in the air outside her mouth – stuck, thick like glue. The heaviest word I’ve ever  heard and it there it was floating in the middle of the entire room. My ears began to ring.

Take it back. Put it back in your mouth. You didn’t say that. You said something different. I didn’t hear that. My ears didn’t hear that. It didn’t enter my ears. You there, “Cancer”, go silently back in from where you came from, leave the air and go back into my mother’s mouth and away from here. It didn’t listen.I think the word hit me like a a thick wall and knocked the words out of me. I didn’t know what to say.


Okay, now I will sit down. Now I will sit down. My legs feel wobbly. We all sat far away from one another. No one going to the other except for our hearts in our eyes.

“What do you mean? Are you sure”

She didn’t have to say Lung Cancer. That didn’t have to be said. I would have been very surprised indeed if it was another part of here body.

My eyes welled with tears now to match the damn that had been holding back the tears in my Mom and Dad’s eyes.

I choked on my hurt and it got caught in my throat. I’m sad. Nooo, this can’t be happening…WAIT, I need to be strong for her. She can beat this. I won’t cry. Such a mix of emotions running at one time. Im not the only that feels sad for the other person, and themselves, but has to switch to be strong. Their the ones with the cancer ahead, not the other person. Hard no matter what. After they told me that all the other sentences that came out of their mouths tried to hold a fight against the cancer in the air. They didn’t win. Coming out and fading out, I could hardly grasp and compute any of them. Cancer just kept winning this bird fight.

“The doctor asked if mom had ever had a chest xray….No, she said….and you’ve been smoking how many years?….almost 40 years?…..We were coming back to Ottawa….the doctor called on the cell phone on and told us to turn the car around and drive back to Toronto…urgent…there’s a grey spot on her xray…suspect a tumour…must send for MRI immediately…..”

The details didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. My mom had cancer. Lung cancer. From smoking all these years. Like we told her she could get if she didn’t quite. The bain of my existence daily. Her smoking. He smoke filling in the air. Didn’t matter now. Just wanted her to beat it. She could beat it. She can. She’s a strong woman. We can beat this together.

What about my brothers? Did they know?

“Do they know?”

They knew before I did. Why did they know before I did?

“We wanted to come and tell you in person. We had to wait until we could see you.”


I guess I can’t be mad at that now. I guess I can’t really be mad at anything now really. Nothing matters except mom beating this. Getting though this. Surviving this. Living. It’s do or die now. She can beat this though. If anyone can, she can.

I have absolutely no recollection of the rest of that day except those moments when Cancer came into the room.


Do you remember when you were told a loved one had cancer? How did you feel? Feel free to share your stories below. It’s cathartic.

Kate Flood

Red FingerprintLocale: Laid out in a tuffed chocolate leather sofa @starbucks. The official sponser of this blog – not really, but most of the blog has been written here. Do they recycle those bins everyday that are full of recycle cardboard and plastic coffee cups?
Feel’n: Infuriated with people’s perceptions, projections, assumptions, judgements.
On Deck:  U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence { Downloaded FREE courtesy of U2, my favourite band I might add, so I’m one of the happy ones! Thanks U2 }. Sleep Like a Baby Tonight



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