I arrived in Montreal to discover my mother at the kitchen table, making her funeral arrangements.  “I’d like Theresa to sing,”she said, dutifully taking note on the handwritten page sitting before her.  “After that, people can speak. They don’t need to go to the front.  They can just stand up and talk where they are.”  Then, consulting and reading aloud from her notes: “But please speak loudly.  Sometimes the people can’t hear and it’s ugly.”

Days earlier, I’d received a call from my sister informing me that a routine endoscopy had identified a mass near my mother’s lower esophagus that the doctors had diagnosed as a malignant tumor.  The recommended treatment was an aggressive surgery to remove half the stomach.  

“What was mom’s reaction?”I asked my sister over the phone.

“She said ‘Great!  I can lose weight!'”

Lose weight?  Mom was being one part positive, two parts dismissive.  Basically, old school Italian.

I flew in Sunday afternoon so that I could join my sister in accompanying mom for her follow-up, a second endoscopy, this one at another hospital.  

“The doctors think it’s cancer but I don’t believe it,”my mother confided.  It reminded me of the time I told her a genetic analysis revealed her side of the family had roots in Eastern Europe.  “Oh, I don’t believe in that kind of thing,”she’d said.  

Don’t believe?  In science?

But I was not about to argue with her.  

The next morning we woke up early and went to the hospital where, after numerous delays, mom was finally admitted.  My sister and I waited.  And waited. And waited some more.  And, finally, mom came out – groggy, but otherwise in good spirits.  As we headed down the corridor, a passing nurse commented: “Well, that was good news.”  

Later confirmed by the doctor who let us know that they removed the mass during the endoscopy.  It had been sent out to be tested and to ensure they’d removed it all.  Why they couldn’t have just done that during the first endoscopy remains a mystery.

We returned home much relieved, though mom actually seemed worse off given the fact that the minor surgery prevented her from joining us for chocolate-dipped soft serve.

A week later, my sister called to let me know the tests revealed they’d removed the entire mass which, it turned out, was benign after all.

So, in the end, my mother was right about the first set of doctors being wrong.

And I’ve suddenly begun to doubt the results of that DNA test.

25 thoughts on “Mind Over Matter and Malignant Masses

  1. Très content pour vous de cette fin typiquement hollywoodienne! Bon repos à votre maman. La mienne aussi (91 ans) vient de passer un mauvais bout mais qui s’est bien fini aussi…pour le moment!

  2. I’m so glad that the outcome was positive. It was scary reading initially, and I’m sure it was scary for you all. Happy outcome!

  3. Wonderful that your family got such great news. Your mother sounds like someone I would love to spend time with. Reminds me of my mother. Pragmatic but funny.

  4. Your mom is an absolute peach. I love her and haven’t even met her. It’s probably just as well that we didn’t know all this was going on, as you know how we worry!

    I have the feeling she will outlive us all!

  5. Many many gentle hugs to mom!, SO happy to hear about her results. Rest and lots of chocolate dipped soft serve! thanks

  6. Great to hear the second test was better!
    When I had a colonoscopy they said they would remove any small polyps or similar but would need to do anything bigger / wrose differently.

  7. So good to hear that the test results show as benign! Keep note of your mom’s funeral planning with the comforting knowledge that 1) she’s undoubtedly doing fine and 2) she’s only being morbid after a scare because that’s what older, emotional people do. She’d fit right into most European families. That spunk is what keeps her going and we adore her (and your stories of her) for it!

  8. When I first started reading this, I was like … “No, no. La, la, la, la, la, la, I can’t heeear youuu…”. (I don’t want to hear this kind of news about your mama. Too sad.)

    But, so very thankful everything worked out okay and she is just fine!! Tell her we are sending hugs her way.

  9. So glad to hear the mass was benign! That must be a great relief for you all.

    I agree with your mom on the accuracy of most dire diagnoses. It’s best to get a second opinion where possible.

  10. Such good news,Joe! When we reach our 80’s we never know what’s next . She is very brave and philosophical, too!

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