Update: Fucking cancer, man

4

May 18, 2008 by 8junebugs

On the way to and from Vermont, I drove past the Great Escape, which is home to the Steamin’ Demon, my first roller coaster. (This is in the Lake George area. If you haven’t gone, you simply must.  Do not skip Storytown…because that’s all that used to be there.)

I am still running the loop-de-loop.

SPOILER ALERT: If you are one of the members of my family who does not want to know what to expect, now is your chance to click away.

So click away.

 

We’re looking at months. Not weeks…but also not years. Mom is not ready to face this yet. I am respectful of this to a degree, but I will not support a lie. When my cousin chooses to tell her daughter, our family’s first great-grand-kid (depending on your relation) that my mom is sick and the doctors can’t fix it, that is her prerogative and not ours.

I happen to agree with her that you don’t lie to kids about this kind of thing, but that’s beside the point. Regardless, I hugged Miss Alexandra very close when I saw her. She is very dear to me, and a very sweet girl.

The tumor on Mom’s windpipe extends down to the lymph nodes and is close to her heart. This we did not know before…the first report didn’t tell us that it’s all one mass. They have tacked on another week of radiation — it is large enough to warrant either a higher dosage or extended treatments, and they opted for the latter to keep the side effects at acceptable levels.

After radiation is complete, they will start chemo, as far as I know. Chemo will have cyclical side effects — the sickness usually associated with it and whatever else comes to pass. This could make the tumors on her liver more of an issue, depending on how each drug needs to be metabolized. The fatigue and debilitation will be cumulative — the longer the treatment lasts, the less energy she will have.

They will also run more scans after radiation, by the way. For all we know right now it could be in her brain and bones…they’re focusing on the torso right now, so we just don’t know.

Once chemo is complete, she will have a brief respite wherein she feels pretty well and will, knowing my mom, think it’s all better. It will come back, and it will do so with a vengeance. A second round of treatment will not be nearly as effective and will become a quality-of-life issue. I have known the entire time that this is terminal — this helps me plan for the immediate future.

Although I reserve the right to lose my shit later on down the line, right now I’m doing pretty well. I am fortunate to have a remarkable support network spanning from coast to coast. And this did not come as as much of a surprise as you might think. Genetics and lifestyle have certainly led to this, and I have been wondering for a while how long we would have with my mom. We know that her aunt and uncle died of lung cancer, although we don’t know details. We do not know what killed my Grand because my grandfather wouldn’t allow an autopsy, but two packs a day and the few symptoms we saw paint a compelling picture.

And so it’s possible I was unknowingly gearing myself up to deal with this. In truth, I am not afraid. I am not even angry, although I am on the watch for that one. I am probably more realistic about this than I have ever been about anything in my life. I can deal with science. I have some difficulty with Mom’s expectation that she will play with her grandchildren.

As I am not knocked up at present and it takes time to build a baby, I find this difficult to visualize. But again, she doesn’t want to know the expected timeline.

I’m also the one maintaining some semblance of normalcy. Mom keeps saying she doesn’t want to be waited on hand and foot, so I’m holding her to it and making her retrieve her own crap from my car. She does not have a choice about accepting the family’s help, especially with cleaning and other daily chores; I have threatened to hire a maid if she pisses me off or makes it difficult for others to help.

For my mother, having a stranger clean the house is more mortifying than lung cancer.

It’s possible that telling my brother to drink more water or he’ll get cancer was crossing the line.

So, that’s where we are. The news is more detailed but not notably different. I’ll be in DC until at least the end of radiation, as the level of care she’ll need will remain low — she could drive herself back and forth if she wanted to and if we would let her. I will stay in touch with the doctors and go back up when chemo starts, but I don’t know yet what day or for how long. After chemo, I’m not sure yet what will happen, but I do know that the rest of the family will be involved. The doctor recommended spending that time doing the fun stuff my aunts are pushing, as Mom will be well enough to enjoy it. So we’ll see.

4 thoughts on “Update: Fucking cancer, man

  1. Bean says:

    Oh… Honey… I love you so much. You’re a sister to me and I am here (albeit 3000+ miles away). But plane rides to hold your hand is forthcoming.

  2. 8junebugs says:

    Thanks, sweets — I know you’re here, and you’ve been “here.”

  3. Tammy says:

    Shit girl…you’re right. When it rains it fucking pours. I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. I know this is hard for you. I’ve been putting off calling you because I know you’ve been pretty busy with everything else going on in your life, and I was giving you a little time to settle in to your new life a little bit, but I think its time.

    I’m calling you this weekend. You’ve been on my mind a lot lately. The day I found out that you and Mike separated, I cried half that night for you.

    I drove several states away to come to your wedding. I will do it again after things settle for you and you’re ready for company. And we’re going to drink lots of wine that weekend!

    I love you sweetie.

  4. 8junebugs says:

    Love you, too, poop. A reunion is definitely in order.

    I am a big fat fan of reunions, having missed a big fat one a couple years ago and having some pretty awesome people with whom to reunite.

    I should be around this weekend — can’t wait to talk to you!

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