I was at work on a hot Friday afternoon when my sister called and said she went to the ER while on vacation because of a headache. She had headaches her entire life. This just seemed like another trip to the ER. But this time it was horrifyingly different. The CT scan revealed a large mass. Deep in the center of her brain. She flew home. She went to one of “the best” cancer treatment center in America. MD Anderson. As it happens, she lived less than five miles from the place. It was almost… convenient in a way.
By Sunday our entire family had rallied around her. The doctors were very optimistic. Remove the mass, and move on to chemo and radiation. She had a year. Three if we were lucky. And then there was the really exciting therapies that 60 Minutes was covering.
None of that would, mercifully, come to pass. She never woke up from surgery. Anybody that knows her knows that she was fully aware of what her future held. A painful slog to an inevitably short conclusion. Full of pain and misery. She chose to step on through the door. I would’ve chose the same thing.
We miss her terribly. Her loss has cast a shadow over our entire family that may never see light again. But we are thankful for the 44 years we got to spend with her. And we are thankful that she didn’t suffer for too long.
The signs we could’ve seen looking back were small things. She stopped responding to emails about four months before the tumor. She seemed to be lost in thought when we’d visit each other. One time when she visited I found her on the floor of our guest bathroom. She had no idea how she gotten on the floor.
We never really got to say goodbye because the doctors were just so (foolishly) confident… or they just didn’t feel they needed to convey to us how risky the surgery was. If someone you know is going under the knife for brain tumor surgery… before they go… say your peace. Say goodbye. Just in case. I love you Missy. You were the most incredible sister a brother could ask for. I miss you so much.