Medical arts…er, science

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June 4, 2008 by 8junebugs

The cancer has not yet metastasized to Mom’s brain. Hooray!

(Guess something else is causing The Crazy…)

She hearts ChemoDoc, which is good. She hearts anyone who doesn’t act like this is terminal, though. It’s very like her to hear from a doctor “You know we can’t cure it, right?” and say she understands, then turn right around and say, “But maybe they can!”

At least the first two-thirds of that conversation happened yesterday. ChemoDoc spent a lot of time explaining things to her without sounding negative or even overly serious about her condition. He grumbled a bit about scans other doctors should have done and questions that should have been answered before now, as well.

I know my mom. In the back of her head, this means those negative and overly serious doctors might have been wrong. But I’m leaving that alone for right now.

So she is upbeat and even looked at the original scan of her tumor, which she agreed was big indeed. The doctor explained again why it felt like she was breathing through a straw and said that, had that not  prompted her to get checked out, she could be dead by now.

Yay for breathing through a straw and coughing until you break a rib!

When I heard this, I said something like “Right — just like Grand.” Somehow, in the midst of all of this, she had never considered that her mother may have died from lung cancer that was simply never caught. I want to call my cousin and TALK IN ALL CAPS about how frustrating it is that Mom could consider foul play (vivid imagination — don’t ask) but not lung cancer. A bazillion years of smoking around smokers in a smoke-filled room and two siblings dead from it, but maybe she had a heart attack?

Eh, maybe not.

Grand died very suddenly one night 12 years ago after telling my grandfather she couldn’t breathe. Because she’d had so many surgeries (mostly on her back) over the years, he accepted that she was just gone and refused to put her under another knife for an autopsy. My predominantly female family remains pissed off about this — there are a number of background questions we have difficulty answering at the doctor’s office, and this doesn’t help. Cancer? Yes, but we’re not sure who or how many. Heart disease? Don’t know. Stroke? Don’t know. Struck by lightning? Probably not, but can’t rule it out.

So, yeah. Lung cancer. I’m no longer miffed about my meager cigar stash drying out because someone stored them improperly. I am less inclined to refill my zippo.

Chemo starts in two weeks. Each treatment will take a full day and she’ll have three weeks between them. This is subject to change.

However (which negates everything that came before it):

Shortly after talking with Mom, I got a response from the radiation oncologist to the questions I emailed last week. Although the tumor responded favorably to the radiation, the prognosis remains poor based on the extent of the cancer in her lung and its spread to her liver. (ChemoDoc says they’re assuming it’s cancer in her liver but it could be something else.) The only change since the first time I talked to the doctor is the alleviation of that which was immediately life-threatening.

So, still months.

I told Mom she has to stick around another two years or so if she wants to dandle a grandkid on her knee. Because I AM NOT JUST A VESSEL.


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