Thursday, August 05, 2004

PLEASE READ...(When was your last PAP test?)

I posted this yrs ago.I wish to share it again every few yrs because it's so important. I think of my best friend often. PLEASE read this. It may make a difference in your life or the life of someone you love.

                             WHEN WAS YOUR LAST PAP TEST?

It’s a Thursday like any other; but at 11:15 am, the phone rings. I notice on the display that it’s my sister-in-law Manon. I picked up and she immediately says, “When was your last pap test?” “I don’t know probably 2 years ago,” I answered. “Well make an appointment NOW!!” she says more desperately. “Yeah, whatever,” I say. “I’ll get around to it.” “I have cancer,” she blurts out. “Quit kidding around, that’s not even funny Manon!” I retorted. “I’m serious, it’s cervical cancer,” she says as her voice starts to wobble and she starts to cry. All I could say was “Oh my God!” She goes on to tell me she’s at her aunt’s and she was having a hard time dealing with it at the moment, she’ll call me later.

As I sat there stunned with the dial tone buzzing in my ear. I thought, this isn’t real. She’s in her 30’s. She’s only a year older than me. This happens to other people like your neighbor’s niece or your milkman’s cousin and the people are much older. Her daughter’s only 11 and she’s my 10 year old daughter’s aunt for Pete’s sake! It’s a mistake. It can’t be. It’s way to close to home!

Manon has more energy than anyone I know, she’s always moving or running circles around everyone. For her, everything has to be in order. I often kid that if she let herself go it would be safely assumed that she’d ricochet of the walls. I get tired just watching her.

Manon is more than a sister in law. We hardly go a day without gabbing on the phone at least 2 or 3 times. She has no siblings so she loves to hear all about mine who live across the country. Over 13 years our friendship has survived more than a few major tests. We are the only two people on the planet that can truly relate with each other concerning the species we call our in-laws. She has no right to leave me alone to deal with them! She’s also one of the most unreliable people I know. Every time she borrows clothes, I don’t see them for months even after countless reminders!

The dreaded treatments have started. The chemo and radiation could bring a horse to its knees. You wouldn’t know it by Manon though. After the first day of diagnosis, she decided crying wasn’t going to help her or anyone else around her. She’s gained a peace and wisdom rare for her age to a point of being an inspiration to the doctors and nurses who treat her along with many other cancer victims she’s come to know, most of which are much older. They look forward to her constant humor, words of encouragement and support. I don’t know where she gets this strength. We’re all trying to be strong but she manages to make us stronger still.

The worse is over for now. The side affects from treatments are quite evident but she’s not complaining. In fact she’s really excited about going away with her daughter and husband for a well deserved vacation. One month after they had a great vacation together, her liver stops functioning. The cancer has spread. She’s admitted to the hospital and we all understand that she’s not coming back out. There’s nothing more they can do. All she says to the doctor and us is « I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid to suffer. I don’t enjoy pain! » We cry and she calmly tells us that it’s ok.

I was able to tell her, while I still could that I loved her dearly and how happy I was to be part of her life. I also thanked her for showing me what strength, dignity and courage are.

I spent what I know now to be the last 48 hours of her life, at her bed side. She died quietly. I had always done her hair through the years so I combed her hair for the last time before calling loved ones.

When I kneeled in front of her casket with tears flowing down my cheeks, I also had to smile. She looked beautiful and at peace. The irony is that she was wearing an outfit that I’d lent her many months before. I would swear I could hear her whisper with a laugh, “Try getting this one back! “
I think if she had anything left to say, it would be, “When was your last pap test?”
by Monette Bouvier September 9 /2000

I wrote this story in 2000 right after my best friend/sister in law died in Sept....I have been meaning to share. If anything positive came out of her death it was to really show me how short life could be and that it wasn't meant to live, being miserable...hense my total change of life within less then a yr after her death . Believe it or not but at 37 I had never had a driver's liscense so I began taking classes etc, I started preparing for the rest of my life...seeing a lawer, making arrangements with my now ex Michel for our joint custody of our daughter , coming to an amical parting of things and ways. We had been together for 14 yrs but having never married the legal stuff was about our daughter and our possessions , no divorse .I then had to shop for my own house to enable me to continue my job as a foster family was one of the hardest years of my life but it was also the easiest if u can figure that out. I came through all of that with my head held high, my self esteem renewed after so many yrs of not having any at all , but most of all I felt like a new and stronger woman ready for the rest of my life no matter what it held for me. I knew I had done what had to be done and I had acomplished it in the best manner possible........All who know me also know how happy I have been with Chris in my life. I believe everything happens for a reason. I never would have thought I would meet a man like him or be treated the way he treats me..I wish it for everyone ................I still look up at times thinking of Manon with a smile and I tell her...look at me I surprised you...but thanks for watching over me just to help along the way during those really hard parts...........
So, be happy to be alive... we tend to not appreciate it as we bitch and moan about everyday crap... I certainly do...that is why its nice to be reminded of things like this and the perspective of life at times .......HUGS ALL

As I read this again today Jan/ all still holds so true!...I shall continue to share this for yrs to come...


JustSue said...

Thank you for sharing this with us Monette. Life is NOT a dress rehearsal, we come this way but once!

Shannon said...

We've talked about Manon before, I knew the story before you published it here. Just as before, it made me cry reading about it again. Just as she has had such a profound impact on you and your life, you have on mine. I realize that she may not have had the chance to tell you how much you meant to her, I just want to make sure that I do take the time to let you and everyone in my life like you how very much you mean to me. Thank you for being my friend, my confidant, my voice of reason. For giving me shit when I needed it, and the truth for when I needed it even more. For making me laugh and helping ease the hurts. For being my defender and my champion. You are truly a gift from above and I thank you for being my friend. I love you. Now, stop crying and get back to cleaning up some disaster. Bizou.

lab munkay said...

Hey Moon, Just finished reading your writting and truly enjoyed it.This one made me bawl like a little girl.I can really relate to your entries. Thanks for writting-stay beauiful. I'll be back.

Jojo said...

Thank you for sharing a touching and important story.I lost a brother after a long battle with cancer and my Hubby is a cancer survivor. I learned a few things the most important of which is: You do what you CAN do, you couldn't make her well, but you could do her hair and tell her how much you loved her. The small things sometimes are the most important. You gained an important perspective that not all people get. I wish you well and will check back often. Sorry if I rambled I am prone to it.

amacdrummer said...

Nice cancer sign blog... Check out this cancer sign site.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a canadian cancer society site. It pretty much covers canadian cancer society related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)


AHorse said...

I hope that you will be able to add more stuff on this blog! Regards, horse lover AHorse

kenju said...

How sad for you and the whole family. Cancer is no respecter of persons, and too many wonderful people have been taken, though they might have been spared had they taken steps to secure an early diagnosis.

I used to screen Pap tests; I know how important they are. Thanks for posting this, Moon.