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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Still Standing ↑ 2 Cancer

Last August, I shared that my mom had been diagnosed with stage 4 edometrial cancer.  It was in her uterus, cervix, hip bone, and lymph nodes.  There were lymph nodes even in her chest that were showing signs of cancer.  It seemed sudden and down right scary, but my mom is a woman of action.  If you know my parents that won't surprise you as they are hard working, service oriented, execute a plan kind of people.  Her and her doctors came up with a plan and shortly after her diagnosis she was getting chemotherapy.  That's the point that I wrote this blog post in August.  That was almost eight months ago.
So what's happened? Until about a month ago, things were moving really smoothly. She had several months of chemotherapy that effectively contained the cancer to her abdominal region where it had begun. She had very minimal side effects from the treatment. Only once at thanksgiving did she look sick and wane. Otherwise the only indicator she was going through treatment was her bald head that she covered in cute hats.
After Christmas, she started radiation targeted at her abdomen and a lighter regimen of chemotherapy to assist with ridding her uterus of cancer. It worked.
About a month ago, I got a call from my mom saying that a lump had formed behind her ear. The doctors had ruled out a blood clot so they were planning to biopsy it. The first biopsy came back benign, but then despite antibiotics it got bigger. Another doctor suggested it should be biopsied again and that one came back malignant.
I'll stop here and say that it's awful for me, let alone my mom, to wait for these test results to come back. Fighting cancer is as much mental as physical. It requires you to push fear and anxiety to the side every day in order to function normally. My mom seems to be doing this well. She is taking one day, one obstacle at a time, and trying hard not to be overrun by fear and anxiety. I know I had some nightmares and difficulty sleeping the weekend we were waiting for the first biopsy. I had to photograph a wedding the weekend we were waiting for the second biopsy and kept getting choked up when I would see the bride's grandmothers. I really want my mom to see D'arcy and Maggie Lu get married.
My mom was scheduled for a hysterectomy but that had to be put on hold in light of this new tumor in her neck. The first step was to get a PET scan to see where else the cancer had spread besides this very visible spot. We were scared it would be dire. Thankfully, those test results came the same day and allowed us to have a less stressful Easter weekend. The scan showed that she was otherwise cancer free, and so they made plans to remove the tumor at once.
So here we are at the hospital. This is the hospital that D'arcy and Gabriel and Tessa and Eowyn and Jillian and... were born at. I think this is the first time I've been here and not on the labor and delivery floor. Hopefully they'll be able to remove the tumor and protect her ability to raise her eyebrows, pucker her lips, and shrug her shoulders. Hopefully she'll be cancer free tonight, and then she'll have some additional chemotherapy and a hysterectomy to HOPEFULLY keep her that way.

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