November 22, 2013
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
Many teenagers need a push to discover how much they appreciate their parents.
For Bobby Gaudet, it came when his mother had a brain tumor.
After giving birth to two daughters, Paula Gaudet was advised not have any more children.
Her doctors were concerned about the surplus of estrogen being produced during pregnancy, a hormone directly linked to cancer.
Two years later, she unexpectedly had Bobby.
When Paula was 40, she discovered she had had a benign, golf-ball sized tumor growing on her brain stem for 14 years, since Bobby was born.
“I didn’t feel responsible,” said Bobby. “I felt guilty for different things.”
He felt guilt for his stereotypical teenage complaining and negative attitude.
“People who are about to lose their parents feel remorse,” said Bobby. “It was just my time to feel something.”
Paula was scheduled for emergency surgery a week after discovering the tumor. Her odds of survival were 50/50 in addition to a long list of possible complications.
Despite being 14, everybody but Bobby knew the severity of Paula’s condition. He did not found out until the day before the surgery when his father took him to the hospital. Paula’s health had deteriorated and she went blind.
“Your mother has been there for you your whole life and now it’s your turn,” his grandmother told him.
“You have to stop the tears and you have to be strong.”
He was not allowed into the room because his mother was in such distress.
Paula recovered from the 12-hour surgery, but never regained vision in one eye.
Six years later at 21, the experience sticks with Bobby. He has a newfound appreciation for his mother that he acquired when they reversed roles, making him her caregiver.
He recalls not recognizing his mother’s bald head and swollen, scarred face after surgery with horror.
He remembers helping her to the bathroom, and her breaking down after catching a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror.
It is an image that keeps him awake at night.