My friends often make this joke with me that I’m dead on the inside. I normally don’t evoke a major response when unfortunate situations occur, reality is, my brain is churning and my heart is pumping. I was raised by immigrant parents in a lower class community, things were not easy growing up, and I have learned that if you show signs of weakness, you’ll never make it out of poverty. It doesn’t mean I’m not human.
I was raised to withstand many unforeseen incidences, handle multiple mishaps, and to be a strong independent woman. When my mom informed me that my dad has fallen sick, I felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders. My mom turned to me, expecting me to provide her answers and lead them to the right path. I have two older brothers, one a teacher (35 y/o) and one a computer science engineer (31 y/o). I have a science background in cancer immunotherapy, I felt comfortable taking the lead and relieving my brothers and family of any fear, I was their super woman.
I took my folks and middle brother to the clinic to discuss the diagnosis, the Urologist I spoke to, a very fine handsome gentleman provided us with some bad news. “Your father has high grade bladder cancer, I will refer you to a Surgeon/Urologist who specializes in this. Most likely your father will have his bladder and prostate removed, and will have a urine bag for the rest of his life.” I kept my composure and asked if there were any alternative options as I don’t want my 72 year old father’s quality of life to be affected. I continued to keep my composure but I felt the heaviness in my chest. My mom whispered to me and asked me what was going on. I translated the situation to her in the most patient manner. Her face showed signs of concern and sadness. The hardest thing for me is not what I feel, but watching what my mom and dad break down kills me. I drove my folks home and told them I had to go to work.
I went to one of my best friends house and cried. I felt awful. It’s harding watching the strongest people you know, fall ill and become vulnerable. I allowed myself to cry for a limited time, then I stopped, and told myself to be strong. Be that girl who seems like she’s dead on the inside. Turn the emotional aspect off, and now it’s time to be the logical strong you. I made a list of action items, a game plan of what my father needed to do, the next steps, the questions we must ask.
The robot inside of me keeps me grounded and thinking straight. Don’t stand there trembling my dear, the world is changing so fast around you, don’t let the emotional side swoop you off your feet, I tell myself. Sometimes I just want to weep in bed and cry myself to sleep. It’s so comforting to cry in the dark and to let your sadness engulf you. Sometimes you just need that, even though you’re dead on the inside.