All it takes is a phone call to start you screaming

February 28, 2008 at 12:01 am 41 comments

by Loraine Ritchey contact
A simple thing- the ringing of a phone, stopping what you are doing to answer and to have your life change after saying a simple word


It was a phone call that sent an icy cold that permeated through my very core and has not left me yet, my brain not wanting to “compute” what my ears were hearing, mouth dry, eyes welling with tears , the incredulousness, the denial , the confusion, the sheer terror that runs through your frame, your mind screaming, a few seconds that changes your life forever- nothing will ever be the same.

A phone call that leaves you weeping with fear, that terror, whose tentacles reach through your very being, tearing at your insides, ripping to shreds happiness and laughter. One of the people you love more than life itself, one that you gave birth to, cuddled, bathed, fed and protected is on Route 2 and has answered another (cell) phone to be told that test results (for possible bronchitis) have come back with a life threatening disease.

Someone please wake me from this nightmare……..what am I supposed to do, what do I say, how can I do anything- someone , anyone why????????????????

The look on your husband’s face as he tries to understand the picture of what is happening with this conversation………

The dread disease that sends a mother into the world of deal making ,

No please – not my child , let it be me, take me ,God how can I bear this?

How can I be brave and make it better when my heart is exploding with pain, every part of me screaming from the gauntlet of emotions that are coursing through my very essence? You are removed from the world around you –

Nothing matters, not the politics, not the crime, not the state of the roads, not the weddings, the weather, blogs, the pettiness, media , CRA’s, pontificators, principles , presidents, arguments ….. .nothing…. your world has shrunk, your planet consists of no more than 8 people and the all consuming fire of fear that your child is going to be in a world of hurt and you are helpless.

You want to curl up in a dark place – trying not to feel, to escape but the pain and confusion drags you back to the surface of desperation, despair and the reality that is now your world.

Eventually the body decides, through sheer exhaustion, to sleep but the nightmare doesn’t stop, you wake, a pillow wet with tears, a coldness that remains in your very core reminding you there is no escape- you truly do

“wake from sleep exhausted”(Susette Kelo)

Family , friends try to be encouraging and for that you are grateful but in a mother’s heart there is really nothing that they can do or say , you want to wake up from the nightmare, make it go away.

Make it stop

You look for anything that will give you hope -that there is a mistake but somehow inside you know the truth – it will not go away – it is going to have to be dealt with.

No matter how old your child becomes they will always be your child. You see not the young man or daughter – you see the chubby 2 year old with soft plump arms, the eyes that never change

“kiss it better mummy”

only mummy can’t- no soft butterfly kisses or a cookie is going to fix this – there is no magic bandaid with happy faces. Your life and that of your loved ones is contingent upon a surgeon’s knife and upon a lab in California – a stranger making a decision that will decide whether there is happiness , hope or pain to come in your life and that of your child. You are just another lab report , a number with an insurance billing code- a job of work.

This nightmare of speculation and waiting for the next body blow , like some sort of insidious torture technique, rips at you and the very fabric of your family . Life goes on around you but you are removed you go through the motions but you aren’t really there and you only care about the turmoil that one phone call caused.

The tests, the scans, the trips to the hospital, the waiting rooms with color co-ordinated furnishings, a laugh echoing through a hallway, people talking about the weather, a child crying as life goes on -biopsies, more waiting – hoping- praying pleading with a greater power

“please let them have this wrong ” “please let it be a mistake”

Watching every movement,

are they eating , are they paler today , the cough – is it better, worse,?

Trying to smile, to put on the brave face and make life normal until the results are in, cooking food no one really wants to eat , but the strength has to be kept up. Laying awake watching the clock tick away the hours of life and darkness, waiting for morning.

things always look better in the daylight,

but that isn’t true- the mornings come and there is no sanctuary in the watery, wintery sun. Days run into one another, hours, the calendar and the marked events deemed important enough to make note of are no longer significant in their passing.

The darkness envelopes and you think of other mothers, how do they cope with news that threatens their babies, their teenagers, the mothers whose sons and daughters return from war missing limbs and with horrific injuries, how do they cope even having them in harms way- day after day ?

How does a mother bear the news that her child is gone- no longer to hold them, to feel a heartbeat , to gaze with love upon their face, the hear their laugh , to see their eyes no more ….the gut wrenching sadness the rises up. unasked, unwanted, and overflows with the releasing of tears without warning.

Then the results and you know, even before the Doctor opens his mouth – you see his eyes- what they are…. you hear the bad news tempered with good news and hope and another journey begins…………and you know that somewhere another mother shares your pain and fear and is trying to make a deal

take me, not my child………………..

Entry filed under: health.

Impressions from Paula-Lorain City Council Lorain votes ??????

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paula Tobias  |  February 28, 2008 at 2:24 am

    I just had a flashback of my life in 2002 .
    But the center was my husband and not my child.

    And I remember when he was first diagnosed, he said, “Better me than one of you.”

    Flashbacks were so vivid of the entire year when I started reading this I could not finish.

    I wish I had the magic words, I can tell you some of the things I learned, but I don’t want to diminish what you’re going through.

    Our experience is what prompted me/us to become involved in PanCAN, I didn’t want another family to go through what we did.

    Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help and support, there are people that can and do genuinely care.

    Love you(and the family too)

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  • 4. Henery  |  February 28, 2008 at 3:48 am

    I don’t know what to say other than what I’ve already said, Loraine.

    You’ve got my phone number. Use it whenever you need, for whatever I can do to help.


  • 5. muley  |  February 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    ………..Loraine, I just can’t imagine the pain you and your family are going thru at this time. What I can imagine is that “our” Lorrd is looking out for Chris and the rest of your family in ways that we would never imagine. Your words are so beautifully written, and could only be written by you, “that woman”. Thank you for allowing me to be your friend. I will continue to think and pray for Chris, Ernie, Nikki and you daily, and I assure you some good will come of this. It always works that way, sometimes we just don’t see it. God bless.
    Mr. Muley

  • 6. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  February 28, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Same here . . . I wish I could do something for you — so if it ends up I can, call, email — or even shout out your back door . . .

  • 7. Alex McGuire from Scotland  |  February 28, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Loraine, I just can’t believe what you must be going through – it must be awful. At this point I would echo the words of Mr Muley. When I last heard from you, you told me about Chris. I have been praying for him every day since and will continue to pray – it is now in God’s hands. He will be merciful.

    Best wishes and kind regards,


  • 8. denise caruloff  |  February 28, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Dear Lorainne,

    I did not want to bother you via phone, as when the last brief time we spoke, you were dealing with hospitals and doctors.
    I have no real experience in this type of grief, but I do understand grief and stress, and agony….all that i know from my experiences is to let the light of friends and family warm and caress you when and as often as you need. Many will be there for you, and this pain will ease in time. Talking about things help so much…getting it out..sharing what you can…all your friends are just a phone call away…dont hesitate to pick it upm when you feel that need to talk, or even silence knowing you have a soft place to fall.
    One day at a time…i will keep your family warm in my prayers.

  • 9. thatwoman  |  February 28, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I cannot begin to tell you the “wonder” of people, as word has seeped out and the floodgates of caring have touched this household, I know there are others in this town and county and state who are going through worse things, you are all wonderful and some of you have also taken on other issues that have effected this family this week and made life a little easier…..yup the digging for diamonds and the super lazer has surfaced AGAIN.

  • 10. Kaye Coller  |  February 28, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I learned about your son’s illness yesterday, and your family has been in my prayers since then.

  • 11. Bill Sturgill  |  February 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    There is little one can say. Everyone knows the worst fear of a parent & grandparent.

    I will think of you and pray for you, and yours, and when the day is thru I will still be friends with you.

    I give you this little story of hope. At 19 Rocco DeAngelis was diagnosed with testicular cancer. A situation that seemed hopeless. They removed his kidney, a testicle, the cancer was rapped around his Aorta. Rocco is 35 now has 3 children and a good job.
    I had often wondered about the question of offering up my life for a child if it were possible. What i realized when my son was born I would do it in a heartbeat with no regret or second thought.
    I realize right now not much matters to you except getting your son better. There is nothing anyone can offer you to ease his and your family’s stress. But if there is anything I can do no matter how slight or hard, please ask .

    Your Friend

  • 12. thatwoman  |  February 29, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Bill as I said I have found the “wonder” of people in this horrible situation, people who take time out of their lives to offer you help and hope , just waiting now for more Dr’s and treatment . I can’t begin to explain how much the kindness means to me .. I keep thinking of Jean Schaeffer and “this too will pass” .
    You are so right until you feel that little life the moment they are born and you look into that tiny squished up face all red and wrinkly , before they even open their eyes you know that you would do anything sacrifice and fight for them……..a single heartbeat the result of two beating hearts…..

  • 13. Anne Molnar  |  March 1, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Loraine, You already know of my thoughts and prayers for your son. Life can really give one a low blow when you least expect it. A prayer line has been started and will end when he is completly healed. Take care my friend. There is power in prayer.

  • 14. renee dore  |  March 1, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Loraine, Once the treatment options begin to unfold and proceed you will have something to grab on to and hang on to. Right now there is nothing to hang on to- happiness seems to keep us connected to life. When Life deals us a blow like this it takes our smiles away and disconnects us to all that seems to matter. We are here for you and your family- keep writing- it is a good way to share- you share your best thoughts in your writing.
    I worked in this field for 30 years and watched as fear slowly transforms into hope when treatment begins. It’s this time of waiting that seems like an eternity. You need sleep to get through the daytime- take something for your sleeplessness.
    Your family is in our thoughts and prayers. We’re an email or phone call away-anytime. Renee Dore

  • 15. thatwoman  |  March 1, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you Anne and Renee, there is this heaviness that grounds your spirit. The waiting and not being able to “do” are literally in the hands of strangers……. Paula said something about “a week” next week , and that seems to be the time frame waiting the week between events….. dreading and hoping at the same time……….

  • 16. Paula Tobias  |  March 6, 2008 at 1:20 am

    I feel compelled to post after just reading about Patrick Swayze being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer today. Today is Frank’s 6 year anniversary of his surgery for pancreatic cancer, a survival rate of 3 % at that time.
    To find out more about that horrid disease:
    If you ever find someone that is touched by this disease please don’t hesitate sending them to us. We still try to help other families so they never have to go through what we did.
    What I learned:
    Your life as you know it can change in a second.
    Be prepared, do your research and don’t hesitate to challenge the Doctors, I love most of ’em, but they aren’t God.
    Take care of the real workers, the nurses, the staff etc they deserve the help and respect you can give them.
    Be a Team with your healthcare providers.
    Remember to tell the ones you love, that you do love them, you never know…..

  • 17. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  March 6, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Paula — what about local support groups? What info can you give us about them?

  • 18. thatwoman  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Paula would you do a post for us on this subject , I know that you are very heavily involved in PanCan…. Loraine

  • 19. Paula Tobias  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I’ll give it some thought and go through my box of info from that year and what I’ve gathered since.What specific areas would everyone be interested in?

    Local support groups for a specific cancer? The Cancer Center on Rt 57 could help. We found it difficult locally to find anyone with Pancreatic as the total affected in one year is around 33,000.

    Unfortunately since then we have found out more people in the City of Lorain have been affected, very troubling.

  • 20. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Here’s what I think would be helpful:

    local support group info

    how to research treatments to make the best decision for you/your family

    how to work with doctors most effectively

    And, in general, what you’ve learned that will make this process . . . I’m not sure what word to use, as “easier” isn’t the right one. But I think you’ll know what I mean.

  • 21. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  March 6, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Plus, what did you learn about living with cancer, re: balancing the very necessary concentration and focus on treatments, while also continuing daily life?

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February 2008

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