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?