Months To Years Spring 2018 Months To Years Spring 2018 - Page 27

In Memory of Mal Schoen A participant in Stanford’s Writing Your Cancer Journey writing group, Mal Schoen passed away in February 2018. He wrote this letter to his mother and read it to the writing group. Dear Mom By Mal Schoen train from Portland and a day later, my sister picked you up and brought you to spring me from the hospital—nine days after surgery. You slept on my couch and kept me company for weeks. I did my own cooking anyway, but So many people in so many ways have helped me what I needed was just for you to be there. since my diagnosis in 2013. Doctors, nurses, hospital and insurance administrators. Friends drove me to Over the next year and a half, I had two more surgeries, chemotherapy appointments. Online cancer-buddies and each time you got on that train and traveled through buoyed my flagging spirits with encouragement. My the mountains and arrived to sleep on my couch. The best brother distracted me with games of online Words With time was Thanksgiving 2013. I had just had my second Friends. My sister aired me out with local shopping trips. surgery—the takedown of the colostomy, an unbelievably But your help, Mom, is the help that comes first to mind happy occasion. We cooked our Thanksgiving meal with a special poignancy. together—a turkey breast for you, Tofurky for me—and you surprised me with holiday decorations that you taped Since Dad died in 2011, your own health was slowly up on my kitchen windows. It was just the two of us—my deteriorating, and continues to do so. A so-called cognitive brother stayed home in Portland, and my sister stayed decline. Though you still live on your own, your world has at her home, as well. But it may have been my best continued to shrink. The next thing any of us knew, I was Thanksgiving ever. You and I have been so close for sixty in a hospital recovery room waking up with less of my years, but these visits had a special glow to them. Our colon, none of my appendix, and a brand spanking new futures were both so uncertain and under siege, but for the colostomy situated on my belly, hidden for a while under moment we were healthy and happy and together, both the hospital gown and blankets. grateful for what we had and might continue to have. Like me, you don’t like to fly, but there was no question in Next week, I will be the one journeying through the your mind that you needed to be with me. You took the mountains on the train to spend Thanksgi frvF#p