Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yanking the Rug

Last week I got to write a wonderful post where I announced the good news about the results of my mom's cancer surgery. I waited until that post to give the bad news because I knew the good news, and it was an easy post to type.

Before then, I had drafted a number of posts in my mind that never made it to print. It's easy to say, hey my mom has cancer, but she's fine. It's not easy to say that my mom has cancer and I'm really worried about this and that. There were so many things that I was worried about, I just couldn't figure out how to put them all down.

After she got the results of her bone scan and chest x-rays, at least we knew the cancer hadn't spread. That was a huge relief. HUGE. However, I was still very concerned that she would need chemo. Surgery sucked and the idea of radiation isn't great either, but at least they are predictable and have limited side effects. Chemo, not so much. I was concerned about how sick Chemo would make my mom. How much extra care she would need. How would we get her to all of her appointments if she's not well enough to drive? My brother is already dealing with a health issue in his wife's family, how much more time can he miss? My sister just started a new job, how much time can she miss after just one month in? I've been rationing my time off for a few years now, and I don't have much to work with. How can we pull this off?

My next concern, after my mom's health and providing the care she needs, is that she still watches Michael part time. To quote her, "Michael is the purpose to my life." I have no problem putting Michael into daycare, but it really breaks my mom's heart to think that she'll have to give up the time she spends with them. Taking away her time with him is just adding insult to injury. Finding out that she didn't need chemo eliminated that concern.

Of course, I also had to worry about how Michael would handle the news. He looks forward to grandma days, and I cringed at the thought of telling him that grandma is sick and that he would need to go to school full time. Oh, and the follow on discussions that go along with that. Why is grandma sick? Why is grandma losing her hair? Is grandma going to die? I really didn't want to go there, and learning that my mom didn't need chemo also lifted that weight off my shoulders.

My mom's general practitioner has been receiving all of her tests and has been following her case through all of the reports he's been getting. He finally asked that she come in to see him after her surgery, so she saw him this past Monday. When he came out to greet her, he had a huge smile on his face and gave her a big hug. From the results of all of the tests, he actually told her that she was basically cured. When she relayed that to me, I cringed a little. Cured might be a strong word. She still has radiation and hormone therapy, and will continue to have frequent monitoring to make sure there has been no recurrence. But, yes, things look really great.

On Wednesday, my mom had her first appointment with the medical oncologist who would manage the hormone treatment and long term monitoring. She expected to get a prescription for the hormone therapy. Instead, when she got there the oncologist informed her that the initial results from the needle biopsy were not correct. The pathology on the tumor showed that her tumor was estrogen and progesterone negative and HER2 positive. Because this is a more aggressive type of cancer, the recommended treatment is chemo.

All of the concerns that went away after the results of the surgery came snapping back into reality. Chemo. Hair loss. Risk of infection. Nausea. How will we make this all work? What do I say to Michael? And, what if...

My understanding is that her prognosis is still very good. I'm very happy about this. I'm very grateful that she has these options and that they will give her such a good chance for a full recovery. But still...Chemo?

9 comments:

LauraC said...

2011 is not turning out to be Best Year Ever.

Karen said...

I am just speechless about this news. Will continue to keep your family in my thoughts and prayers!

Lindsay said...

Boo! Maybe M will surprise you and be a good encouragement for your mom.

claudia said...

Your Mom needs to know that chemo isn't what it used to be. I was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago and was terrified of the proposition of chemo. I pictured that I would be strung out lying on the bathroom floor and there is nothing I hate worse than throwing up. It wasn't like that at all. They put anti nausea meds in the IV now and I never even needed to use the anti nausea pills that they gave me. I worked every day. Yes, I lost all of my hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes (that was a surprise) but everything grew back. I never wore a wig or scarf and everyone got used to my baldness. They pretended that I looked great. I warned Babycakes about the impending hair loss and she helped me pull it out when it turned into one huge dreadlock. Yes, there were a few days that I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck but not nearly what I had anticipated.

JenFen said...

So sorry to hear this and I know that everyone involved wanted to avoid chemo. I completely understand your trepidation, trust me I do. You just have to keep clinging to the positive, which is that even though she does need chemo, the overall prognosis for her is still good. And you always have your Wine girls to vent to on the days that it gets tough. And I agree with Lindsay, their is a really good chance that M will completely surprise you with how he handles things.

Stacey said...

How disappointing! I think kids often respond better than adults in these situations because they don't quite get all of the big picture issues. They won't hear chemo and think of her feeling horrible. Losing her hair might be sort of cool to a kid. Michael is astute, but that may mean he tunes in and gives you and your mom what you need. I hope so.

Mel said...

I'm no sorry that the initial news was wrong. Very disappointing to hear, and I understand your concerns about chemo. Praying that your mom stays strong and that the chemo will keep those cancer cells away forever!

Carrie77 said...

I am so sorry to hear this, it is so hard to have a parent with cancer.. especially when you have work obligations and they watch your child. Its very stressful. Try to hang in there, take it one day at a time... and, try to treat yourself to something special every once in awhile if the stress gets too great. I know that has helped me a lot. I am sure she can go back to watching him after she gets better, maybe explain to them that this is only temporary, until Grandma gets better. Take care!

Beth said...

That sucks . . . well, you know what it sucks. I hope Claudia is right--that it's not nearly as bad as anticipated. And in the end, it will all be worth it. Huge hugs to you and your mom as you guys move forward. I'm so glad she has you!