When I said the first person with cancer I met, the unknown woman that I met in the café (Le Plateau), it wasn’t completely true. In fact, now I’m recalling the first person with cancer, who was relatively closer to me, was the mother of my classmates at the University.
It’s sad, but I don’t remember her name. She was a lawyer from the left party. With her socialist ideas and ideals, she was very active in the 60’s and 70’s, she was involved with the union workers mouvement. She even travelled to the ex USSR. Her father was an important member of a union in the north of Peru. She married, who would be her husband, a stubborn smoker, someone related to the law too. She had only one child, my friend. She was fat, very talkative and a terrible cooker. But she was very nice with me.
Despite she never smoked, she trapped lung cancer. Guess from who: the husband. When she went sick, I visited her at the hospital. At the beginning she was coughing all the time and developed something similar to asthma. So, the doctor gave her a pump and some antibiotics. But the problems went on, and she didn’t recover from the “asthma”. After some medical tests, the doctors took X-rays and saw the lungs with a kind of liquid inside, well, around the pleura, that thin layer that covers the lungs. She was hospitalized and they had to drain the liquid. In the hospital, I saw the catheter draining something red and yellow, it wasn’t blood. She drained almost 8 litres, obviously, she lost a lot of weight. Everyone was suspecting about a cancer. After the lungs where clean the doctors, once again, took X-rays. This time, a doctor, who was a real butcher in his way to explain us the patient’s problem, took the X-ray, put it against the light and said “it’s a metastasis” and he put it down and added: “you can send her to my private clinic for a treatment”. We and he, knew she wouldn’t recover and we were shocked about his “business”, I mean, treatment for someone dying.
I remember I went back home, I went directly to my bed, I was lying there staring at the roof and my father asking “what’s going on?” I didn’t tell him anything. I think this is the first time I talk about it openly.
The doctors asked for a tomography, I don’t remember why and sent her to another hospital in an ambulance. I didn’t go but what my friend told me, was very hard from him so see so many people with cancer in the same hospital.
Meanwhile, the bill at the hospital rose to the moon. They had no choice but continuing with the treatment but the woman was wicker and wicker. People around her tried to hide her she had cancer, but when she knew it she said “I’m strong, I can face it”.
I don’t recall why I left home those days, I was busy and at the same time I knew they needed privacy. When my friend called me to tell me she passed away, my brother took the message, and as usual, he never told me he phoned me.
I didn’t go to the funeral. I don’t know where her grave is. I haven’t talk to my friend since I told him I was gay. I know he works at the university, he’s a teacher, or something like that. He was taking anti-depressors. His father is still smoking. They don’t talk about it.
The last portrait of her I got in my mind is, the look in her eyes, rolling them up and down, as she wanted to take a picture of the landscape around her. That look that want to keep or grab the last image of earth, her reality, she, and the bedroom in the hospital.