I’ve written before about my mother, Anna Graham, and her battle with cancer.
This time of year always brings back memories of mom’s last days. She finally succumbed to the ravages of this terrible disease on Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. She was 74.
With that dreaded anniversary just over a month away now, and with this being our first edition in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it gives me pause to remember mom and her struggle.
Four years prior to her death, mom had been diagnosed with both breast and uterine cancer, and she had a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy to try and end the threat.
We thought she had been successful. Just four months before she died, she had been given a clean bill of health during her regular doctor’s visit. But in the interim, the cancer came back with a vengeance, infiltrating “the three L’s,” her lungs, liver and lymph nodes. We didn’t know how bad it was, and I’m not sure she did either, until she passed out at her Catholic church in Huntsville, Alabama, and had to be taken to the hospital by some of her friends.
This was during my first stint here in Monroe, and I remember driving to Huntsville to try and determine exactly was going on with her health. I knew this wasn’t good, but I didn’t know how bad it was. I checked in with her every week and she never let on that she was having any difficulty at all.
After finally making it to her room I asked her how she was feeling. She told me, “I’m dying,” very matter-of-factly. If you knew my mother you knew this was her style. I remember saying, “Let’s see what the doctors have to say,” but the doctors, unfortunately, confirmed what my mother already knew.
They gave mom up to six months to live after discovering the cancer had reoccurred. She only made it 10 days.
Those last days were spent at Abbey Hospice in Social Circle. I had her moved locally so that my wife, Allison, and I could help look after her, however long that was going to be, along with my brothers and sisters. Although I cherish being able to spend those last few days with her, it really wasn’t enough time. I still miss her terribly, and I always will.
Cancer must be a six-letter word because not even a four-letter word would do justice to the truly awful nature of this insidious disease.
All of us have a loved one who has been impacted by cancer. This disease in all of its myriad forms has stolen mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, family and friends from all of us.
We also all still have loved ones who are struggling with it. In today’s edition and in the past we have shared stories of survivors who, with the advancements made in medicine today and the grace of the good Lord, have been able to beat back the cancer trying to invade their bodies.
Which is why it is incumbent upon all of us to do what we can to try and stop it from taking anyone else. The research being conducted is paying dividends, as the survivors will tell you. Cancer survivors are continuing the good fight. We need to continue the good fight to help find a cure as well.
We are giving a portion of the proceeds generated by our “Think Pink” section to a charity that funds breast cancer research. Our contribution alone won’t get this done, obviously, but every little bit makes a difference.
As a good friend of mine, Keith Prather, likes to say, “Don’t give until it hurts. Give until it helps.”
— Patrick Graham is the owner of The Covington News, The Walton Tribune, Jackson County Sentinel, The Times-Journal and The Sand Mountain Reporter.