On Saturday, my mom broke her ankle – ironically while she and my dad were attending their AARP safe driver seminar. When my dad called to let me know what happened, I knew something was wrong from the beginning. The way he said hello, the strange noises and voices in the background, the way he asked me if I were at home. I could hear concern in his voice as he told me about how my mom would be needing surgery and how our family’s plans to be together for Thanksgiving would probably change. A broken ankle doesn’t seem very severe, considering my parents were recently in a car accident that totaled their van – the reason for their safe driver seminar in the first place. It’s just that the phone call with my dad just seemed strangely familiar.
It brought me back to March 27, 2008. I was a junior in college sitting in my dorm room. My mom called, or maybe it was my sister. My mom was to see a specialist – a blood doctor – to look into some of her levels. Hemoglobin. White count.
March 28 – a second call. I could tell in my mom’s voice that something was wrong. The way she said hello, the strange noises in the background. The appointment with the specialist had her going to the hospital for blood transfusions. Leukemia. From the hospital, she would go to the oncology unit at UPenn, where she would spend a month in chemo. It was so difficult being away at school – away from my family – at that time. Nothing felt certain anymore.
Over two years later, my mom continues to be in remission. That month of 24/7 chemo rid her body of cancer, and for that, our family is extremely grateful. Considering what my mom has been through over the past few years, a broken ankle seems like nothing. Those phone calls, though – they just trigger feelings of helplessness, uncertainty, fear. However, if I learned anything in 2008, it is that there is no need for fear – only faith and hope.