Sunday, January 26, 2014

The ringing of the bell...

Friday was a day for celebration...Mom's last day of chemo and radiation for this first round.  They have a bell at MD Anderson that the patients ring.  Since she's been going, we've heard others ring it and have cheered.  The radiation techs came out to see her ring the bell and they all hugged goodbye.  For a while, I had honestly developed a negative outlook, especially after hearing this is not likely the last round of chemo and radiation.  I had to check myself, though, and rethink that outlook.  This will be incredibly difficult if my focus is on how much longer this will take or how bad the prognosis is.  She just overcame a huge obstacle and that's an accomplishment worth cheering for.  These next couple of months leading up to the surgery are going to be about enjoying life.  And I know she's excited she gets to sleep a little later. :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2 more days...

Mom has two more days of chemo and radiation.  While originally we were looking forward to this day and her ringing the bell to signal the end, this week brought a bit of darkness.  I'm not sure 'darkness' is the right word, but it hasn't been the brightest and happiest of weeks.  She met with the surgeon on Tuesday.  She will have a portion of her colon removed at the beginning of April.  Without going into all of the details now, basically she could be looking at an 8 month recovery.  They also revealed that there will be at least one more round of chemo and radiation at some point after the surgery.  Needless to say, Tuesday was hard for her.  But, I know I have to keep reminding myself that it is so much more important to focus on each day as we have it, rather than dreading what is to come.  I get to take her to her last two appointments this week, and while this isn't the end of all of this and the cancer, we do have something to celebrate.  It is the end of this round and she has done remarkably well.  She is such an incredible woman and inspiration.  She truly is my hero.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Halfway there...

Yesterday marked day 14 of Mom's chemo and radiation.  That means she is halfway through with the treatment.  She's been doing incredibly well.  She did have to admit yesterday that she has experienced a bit of nausea.  Her loss of appetite, which she brushed off as nothing, has apparently been bouts of nausea.  She finally succumbed to taking the nausea meds they prescribed in the beginning.  Since it was Friday, she had the Weekly See appointment again.  As with last week, the fill-in doc was there again.  He has to have the worst bedside manner EVER!!  And absolutely no personality whatsoever.  He is awful.

We also met with the chemo doctor.  He was pleasant, although he asked the question I think we have all been avoiding.  When is the surgery scheduled?  I think she is more worried about the surgery and recovery from it, than she is about the chemo, radiation, and actual cancer.  No more avoiding it, though.  She now has an appointment scheduled with the surgeon.  We are guessing surgery will take place in March.

All I can really say at this point is...cancer really sucks.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 10

Ten days down and eighteen more to go.  Today I saw the first real effects the chemo pills are having on Mom.  She has never been one to complain.  She has taken care of others her whole life.  Trying to convince her to take it easy is a difficult task.  When I picked her up this morning to take her to radiation, I could tell she was really dragging.  I somehow convinced her to take a nap when I dropped her off and to let me do her shopping.  I think she ended up taking two naps today, which has to be a record.

So, to top off the incredible timing of this cancer diagnosis, she also found out last week someone got her information and has used it to open credit cards in her name.  I just love that some family out there probably had an amazing Christmas with tons of gifts (based on the amount of money they charged).  So, while she is trying to remain as stress-free as possible in order to take the best care of herself, she also has this happening at the same time.

Back to the appointment today...every Friday after her radiation treatment, she has what they call a Weekly See.  She meets with the radiation oncologist to discuss any side effects, questions, etc.  This is the first time I've been to one of these appointments.  Of course, the regular doc was on vacation (understandable), but the guy who was filling in was clearly not psyched about it.  Luckily, she has no reactions to the radiation since his reaction to a concern she had about something that could or could not be related was, "Well, we will just have to keep an eye on that."  He then proceeded to ask if we had any questions as he walked out the door.  I'm not sure why I was so bothered by him.  I have been extremely pleased with everyone else since all of this began.  Maybe I'm just tired.

She has the weekend off to rest and will resume treatment on Monday.  My sister is coming into town since they couldn't be here for Christmas.  Hopefully this visit will help lift Mom's spirits a bit.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The dreaded "C" word...

It was supposed to just be a routine procedure.  Well, as routine as a colonoscopy that should have been done 20 years sooner could be.  I took off that morning of work to take Mom to have the procedure done.  I even remember sending a text to my co-workers telling them I should be back to work within an hour or two.  As we sat at the round table, talking about what she wanted to eat since she had been on a liquid diet for the past 24 hours, I kept glancing at the doctor as he examined the images on the computer screen.  He would look over every now and then and apologize for taking so long.  We were told they were having printing issues when we arrived, so I thought nothing of it.  I had no idea what I was looking at over his shoulder from across the room anyway.  As I sent a text to my sister letting her know Mom was doing fine, we were just waiting on the doc to come over and chat, I overheard him tell the nurse three words that I was not expecting to hear.  "There's a mass."  What was happening?  Had I heard him correctly?  Should I tell her what I just heard?  I quickly texted my sister.  Then he came over and sat down.  I almost felt bad for him for having to deliver the news.  I sat beside my mother as he told us about the mass, its size, location, and that it was likely cancer.  I couldn't look at her.  A single tear fell down my face.  (I didn't even know that was possible before now.)  I immediately went into business-mode.  What was the next step?  They needed a CT scan to confirm.  I began texting both my brother and sister who are both in the medical field.  My brother organized a CT for that afternoon.  As I walked out to the front desk to check her out and get some information, I broke down in front of the doctor, but only for a bit.  I knew I had to get in the car with her and put on a brave face.  We don't do feelings very well in this family.  Plus, she hates to cry and rarely does it in front of anyone.  Things moved pretty quickly after that.  CT scan, phone calls to MD Anderson, appointments scheduled with all different types of doctors I didn't even know existed.  And here we are today.  It's the day after Christmas.  She has Stage 3 Colon Cancer.  She has completed 9 days of chemo and radiation with 19 more to go.  Things are going well.  She feels great.  No nausea or hair loss yet.  And I have to remind myself daily of these things because it is so easy to just get angry, frustrated, and incredibly sad and scared about all of it.  I have come to realize that worrying too much about what the future holds will only make me crazy.  I instead intend to live each day with her to its fullest because you never know if you will get a tomorrow.