I’ve been vexed by something lately and I think I finally put it together: Xeni Jardin, her cancer treatment and my mother.
You may know who Xeni is. If you don’t, you should. She’s a well-known technology journalist and co-founder of the incomparable BoingBoing.net. To the collective horror of the internet, Xeni was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s been sharing her (sometimes horrific) chemotherapy treatment experience online on Twitter. I’m riveted by every word.
I don’t know Xeni personally. I don’t think we’ve ever exchanged blog comments or tweets or emails. I love BoingBoing, that’s true. But it doesn’t explain the degree of sadness and anxiety I’ve felt over the whole thing. Then it occurs to me: my mother.
Mom passed away in 1977. Brain cancer. She had been very ill for a year or two. My family watched helplessly as she deteriorated under the burden of her disease, chemotherapy and multiple surgeries. I had just turned 9 when she passed.
Some experiences really stick with a person. Sometimes they can stick so tenaciously that 36 years later when a stranger undergoes cancer treatment I feel inexplicably caught up in it.
Xeni isn’t my mother. She’s actually younger than me. But she’s not far from the age my mother was when she was ill. Plus, Xeni is a person both known to me and yet a person to whom I am not close. Perhaps this makes her a safe recipient of some of my leftover grief.
I don’t wish to draw too many parallels. Different people, different times, different cancers. And, I trust, very different outcomes. Mom didn’t survive her cancer, but I believe Xeni surely will. And as she does so, I’ll be watching and hoping and sometimes maybe crying a little.
I’m with you, Xeni.