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June 13, 2008 by 8junebugs

Well. Here we are again. Ready for another cancer update?

There is good news and there is bad news, the latter of which is considerably worse than what I had heard before talking to ChemoDoc.

Good news: No cancer in Mom’s bones. Hooray!

More good news: The tumor at her windpipe really has shrunk dramatically. This is not entirely unexpected–every doctor has called her particular version of lung cancer aggressive, and aggressive cancers tend to do most things dramatically.

Bad news: There is fluid in her lung. The pressure from the fluid is supporting her cough now that the tumor has backed off.

Worse news: In the four to six weeks since the first scan, as she was getting radiation and preparing for chemo, the cancer in her liver got “impressively worse.”

The last thing in the world we want is for a cancer specialist of any kind to look inside her and go, “Whoa, would ya look at that thing go?!”

So chemo begins today, as opposed to next week. Today, she’ll get three drugs. Next week and the week after, she’ll get one. I don’t know which ones yet.

I asked ChemoDoc if he was comfortable giving a prognosis–I did give him the chance to say no, but after talking to the RadiationDoc and then hearing secondhand reports of what Positive Happy Fun ChemoDoc was saying to Mom, I was hoping to find a balance.

He diplomatically gave me two answers. First, statistics around her condition and how it has progressed give her from four to six months. This doesn’t shock me and is in line with RadiationDoc and the internets (which know everything). His second answer was to say that they treat the patient rather than just the disease and everyone is different. In about three to six weeks, we’ll know whether she’s responding to the chemo. If so, great. If not, there are other drugs they can try.

But he doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that this is still terminal. “No treatment” is an option at any time, and he will honestly advise as to the ROI for each possible drug. I hope. Getting Mom to listen is another matter entirely.

I know that this is not easy to face, and I know my mother. I also know that we will all be better served by getting the hard decisions out of the way as soon as possible. I would rather plan for four months and get four years than plan for…la-la-la…and get 90 days.

I asked her yesterday if she worries about me and Chris dealing with “estate” stuff, and she said it keeps her up at night.

If you think that doesn’t give me a stepping stone to get the living will and other business matters on the table, you underestimate my powers of compartmentalization. I will use every ounce of cunning I have to get stupid executor shit out of the way so whatever time she has left is as trouble-free as I can make it.


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