Something was wrong – real wrong.
After a hushed phone call,
she replaced the receiver and quickly dashed into a bedroom and closed the door. A bedroom that never had a closed door – until today.
It was early afternoon, and shortly after the closing of the bedroom door, he arrived home.
He never arrived home early.
He opened the bedroom door and went inside. Again the door closed and the house became eerily silent.
Something was terribly wrong.
A 13-year-old boy stood in the kitchen and waited for the bedroom door to open. The boy didn’t know what was going on, but he did know whatever it was – it wasn’t good.
The bedroom door remained closed for a long time – an eternity for a boy who had a penchant for getting himself into minor trouble. But even for a self-absorbed young teenager, he knew in his gut that this “wrong” wasn’t due to a bad report card or a broken window.
This was different.
The door finally opened and the boy and his younger sister were hustled into a 1975 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser parked in the driveway – still running.
The man, who had hurried home early, drove his 13-year-old son and his 11-year-old daughter to his parents’ house across town. As the station wagon pulled in front, the boy’s grandparents were on the front step ready to greet them.
Something was really wrong.
Grandpa and Grandma hardly ever used the front door. Inside, an old RCA/Victor black and white television was turned on and amazingly for the first time in the boy’s memory his
grandparents’ old T.V. wasn’t showing the Lawrence Welk Show.
Grandpa and Grandma and the man went into the kitchen leaving the boy and his sister in the front room with the T.V.
A short time later, the man returned to the front room and told the boy and his sister to mind their grandparents.
“You’re going to stay with Grandpa and Grandma for a little while – Mom has to go into the hospital – be good,” he said.
Grandma gave him a hug and the man left.
A blurry several days later, the man returned to his parents’ place and called the boy and his sister into their grandparents’ front room.
“I have to tell you something,” he began. “Your mother has had an operation – the doctor found a lump – she’s okay – but they had to – well, they took her breast – she’ll be okay – but they had to – it was cancer.”
It was the first time I ever saw my father cry. The year was 1978.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Prince Rupert and across the country. And while the Canadian Cancer Society continues its fight to eradicate this terrible disease and provide hope, more importantly for me, on Oct. 20, I will be able to call Vivian Hamilton and wish her a happy birthday.
She is my mother and a breast cancer survivor.
Happy Birthday Mom – I love you.
And to the Canadian Cancer Society – thank you for helping give that scared 13-year-old boy a chance to say happy birthday – 40 years in a row.
Editor’s Note: This column was initially published 15 years ago in the Smithers Interior News and updated and republished this week in The Northern View to celebrate Vivian Hamilton’s 40 years as a Cancer survivor.
There is hope!