HARSH HAND

Thank you for telling me what “palliative care” is. I appreciate your visit. You say you want to treat me like a whole person, not just a patient, and know what my wishes are for how I want to live the rest of my life. And that you can help me work with my care team. You have mentioned a lot of questions you have, like why I came to the US, and what family I have. My biggest concern is my son. You also asked what I hope for from treatment, even though you said it is not called treatment any more, but more like dealing with symptoms. Okay. Let me tell you so you can hopefully understand…

I came here because God had treated me with a harsh hand. I still don’t understand, although I try to humbly submit, that he would give my life over to a violent man when I was really still just a girl. I am a gentle person. I escaped after five years, and I took my baby with me, but his family took me to court, trying to take custody away, making all kinds of claims. The judge believed me and I got full custody, so God was with me then, but his family tried to kidnap my baby, and we had to flee the country.

That’s how I ended up here, working in the fields. And of everything that has been laid in my path, my son is the one good thing. I have had bitter times. Bitter, harsh times. You might not know that this is the third time I am fighting this cancer, and some of my friends have told me a lot of field workers get it. Then it gets into the bones, and the blood, and the brain. Mine is pressing on the spinal column, and I want to be able to walk again. Now they are saying I probably won’t be able to. And now you talk about comfort care.

My son is the light of my life. He still goes to school and studies hard. Neighbors bring him food or invite him to dinner while I am here. He works part time when he can find work without papers. No, no papers. We went to an immigration lawyer, but they said he missed being a dreamer by two months. So he has no path to citizenship. So he cannot go to college. And he is so bright! A local company chose him from his whole high school to give him an internship where he could work during high school and then keep working during college and have their help. But then they found out he doesn’t have a legal Social Security card and they said sorry but they are not allowed to have him work. It is against the law.

There is just me and him. Nobody else. So if I die soon, he is just a minor child without papers and not allowed to be a dreamer. He can get deported, and what will he do then? He cries on the phone and tells me not to leave him alone in the world, and I promise him I will keep fighting. He has been in the US since he was a baby. His father is violent. If my son is going to end up back where we started, then what was all this for? I thought the purpose of my life was to protect him and sacrifice so that he could have opportunities. Was it all given just to be taken away again? My mind is clouded with this.

You ask me what I want. I want you to tell the doctors to please not give up on me. I am literally begging. I am praying. Please hear me. I will humbly take any treatment – no matter how harsh. I will take it as a kindness. I will put up with any symptoms while they try and shrink my tumors. I will be strong and I will persist – just as I have taught my son. With one past treatment, my ears started bleeding. With another, I lost part of my vision. Now, I cannot walk. Okay. And I am in constant pain, but that is okay. Just keep me alive until my son is an adult. If he goes back now, he is ruined. And all my suffering would be in vain. Just keep me alive, if only for a year or two. Let me fledge my son from the nest. Let me see him fly, so I can die in peace. Tell the doctors not to give up on me.