She could feel it in her bones. Something was wrong. She chose to ignore it, avoidance was more palatable than acknowledging.
“Always trust the bones,” Grandma Ferris used to say, but then she believed in fairies and the power of the rowan tree. Old wives tales from the old days.
She pushed the niggling fear to the back of her mind and got on with life.
“What’s that?” her husband said one night; they were in bed.
“Nothing,” she replied. But she knew it wasn’t “nothing.” It was something.
She knew it was cancer before the doctor told her.
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Mary Higham, my maternal grandmother, was diagnosed with breast cancer about 1949 and underwent radiation treatment. I don’t know if she had a mastectomy, and those who might have known are no longer alive to tell. The cancer must have gone into remission because she lived another six years, but in either late 1954 or early 1955 it roared back. More radiation treatment followed. Two of my uncles remember seeing nasty radiation burns on her neck which suggests it had mestastasized. She died September 29, 1955.
Whatever fears or regrets Grandma Higham might have had did not stop her from getting on with life that last summer. I’m told she made sure the larder was well stocked for Grandpa Higham when she was no longer around. What my uncles remember most is the 80 pints of strawberries she put up.
I wonder how I would spend my last summer.