Tuesday, June 27, 2006

mothers and breast lumps

Tuesday morning began with the sombering news that the mother of Mrs. S., my next door neighbour, had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and had just had a mastectomy. What shook me up was that she had discovered the lump nearly seven months ago and hadn't told anyone. The news hit too close to home. For nearly four or five months after my mother had found her breast lump, she had kept her discovery a secret, and it took my return to India (in Feb 2004) for her to share this with me - and show me the tennis-ball-sized thing the day I landed in Chennai.

Why do some people conceal such a discovery? Denial? Fear of the worst possible outcome? In the case of my mother, she said she didn't want anyone else to worry about her or take care of her, other than me - her son and only immediate family. And she hadn't told me earlier as she hadn't wanted to have me drop what I was doing and leave the US in a panic in the middle of my academic (teaching) year. Utterly incomprehensible to most, but she was so steadfast in her conviction that she had done the right thing by not telling anyone that I couldn't help but respect her decision retrospectively.

Amma passed away Feb 3 this year, after battling the cancer for nearly twenty nine months. It is hard to comprehend how Mrs. S's mom, who stays next door for most part, could have known all about my mother's battle with the disease and yet have chosen to keep silent about her own, not even telling her own daughter. Then again, maybe not so hard to comprehend after all.

This is for all the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and girlfriends out there: please detect AND let those who love you know if you find something out of the ordinary. We would rather know sooner than later so we don't live with the knowledge we could have caught it in time if...

3 comments:

mizfit said...

where does such thinking come in women? is it a silent teaching of our culture...maybe our mother's generation, all were/are like that...hidding, secretive...to cause no trouble to anyone.

i'm sorry to hear about your mother.

L. Ramakrishnan said...

Thanks mizfit. I think it's partly a consequence of the caregiver role traditionally assigned to women where husbands/sons/males are regarded as primary, and the health and other needs of the women are neglected.

mizfit said...

i wonder when such thinking wud change...