Wednesday, April 10, 2013

She's Down, But She's Not Out

My mom realized about two weeks ago that her liver cancer came back again, because of how her side felt again. If you don't already know, she started with uterine cancer, which spread to both lungs, then her stomach, and now her liver. She's living with four different cancers that have slowly spread over the course of about 14 years.

So her realization came right before a scheduled doctor's appointment anyway, where it was confirmed that yes, her liver cancer came back. The positive thing about my mom being so in tune with her own body is that it was diagnosed early. It's actually less now that it was the first time it was caught. The other three forms of cancer are kind of dormant right now and not causing any problems. The liver cancer is the main concern. It's also what my grandma (her own mom) had as well.

When Mom got liver cancer the first time, we were told by her doctor that if the chemo didn't work, then that's all there could be done. There was no other option. On Halloween of 2012, she was told her liver cancer was gone but that it would return. Cancer cells thrive in her body for some reason.

The bad thing is that surgery isn't an option, because of where her cancer is, close in spots around her gall bladder and stomach, and apparently clustered around a major artery. If nicked during surgery, she could bleed to death. Right now, the doctor doesn't want to talk surgery.

So we had been waiting for a couple of days for the specialist to get in touch with Mom's doctor. Mom called me at work yesterday. I wasn't sure if it was going to be good news or bad news, so I took the call away from my main coworkers.

Her doctor had told her it was time to bring in another specialist to see what he advised. Apparently, that bit about if the chemo didn't work, well, that's not the final answer yet. She'll soon be started chemo for the fourth time, with a little something extra added into it to make it even stronger than before.

Hit it, and hit it HARD is the warpath she's on again.

How bizarre is it that chemo is still an option, and the fact that she's willing to go through it again (to get a few more years of being a grandma to my sister's daughter) brought tears to my eyes. It was a relief to know that someone who doesn't know her (the specialist) is still willing to go to bat for her, to say she has worth as a cancer patient, that now is not the end.

I work in hospice. I can be detached from our patients when they pass. It doesn't hurt me. I can handle it. However, I don't have that same coolness and detached-ness when it comes to my own mom. Even though her illness, at times, has made her say things to me that cut straight into my heart, things that I don't think she would have said otherwise. At least, I hope she's not saying that stuff to me on purpose.

Maybe now, my stomach can finally stop hurting so much. My has gut ached with such a deep, deep pain that at times I thought about going to the ER. But I know (think?) it's just stress, brought about by this round of the on-going cancer scare. It flares up, seriously, with every conversation, and ebbs and flows with my sleep when my brain would mercifully shut down for the night. But before sleep, riddled with anxiety, my midsection feels so tight that I never want to eat again, like maybe something is going to rupture, and my entire body rattles and shakes.

I've realized that this blog is not the same as it was when I started it. It started as a way for me to write about news and animal stories, to get writing again. Then, it became an arts and crafts blog, then I added pop culture stuff and everyday randomness to it. Today, it's still all that, but it's also my diary. I can pour out my feelings here, for the most part, and at least get some of the weight off my shoulders.

I can't bring myself to unload the worry and hurt about what I'm going through as the daughter of a cancer patient, onto my husband. It doesn't seem fair, as we don't have his mother anymore. It seems insensitive, kind of like a case of "first world problems."

It would be nice if my own sister would talk to me more, something beyond text messages. She doesn't have time for me, I guess, and she really stopped having time for me halfway through her pregnancy. That's when she stopped answering her phone and emails, at least for me anyway. As far as I know and from what my mom has told me, there's nothing wrong between my sister and I, but when I can't get her to tell me herself, I have to wonder. During the second round of all this stuff, years back, I got blamed by my sister for just about every bad thing she was going through, and she threatened to cut me out of her life.

I mean, how many times can I tell someone, call me if you need me, tell me if you need me to come home, fucking TALK to me, just say anything, tell me what's going on? I shouldn't have to beg for information on my mom's condition, from anyone, just to be told one story and find out something else months or years later. For whatever reason, my mom told me that the chemo she did several years ago got rid of her stomach cancer. I found out last year that she still has it. That's when I also found out about the liver cancer. So that was a great little kick in the stomach.

I don't believe in God. I stopped believing once my grandma died. I don't think my faith is going to come back, when the subject of the faith should be a being that's allowed my grandma to die as her cancer spread, and my mom is the same age as Grandma when she passed, but she's got four types of cancer, 20+ years later.

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