It’s a common question I have been getting lately. Understandable. I mean the woman was diagnosed with an illness, then a chronic illness, and now breast cancer.
The woman has been through a lot lately.
Besides the physical, the emotional has been pretty bad too. She has been off of work for two months. She has been pretty much confined to the house for that time too. She told me the other day that all she wanted to do was feel well enough to go to church. Ironic huh? The woman wants to go worship but physically cannot.
Right now, she is being inundated with information.
The surgeon appointment on Friday was a discussion in all of her options. Lumpectomy or mastectomy. She was given the info, given her “welcome to breast cancer” kit, and sent home to contemplate.
Since the diagnosis and discussion with the insurance company, she has been getting flooded with calls. Support organizations are reaching out to make sure she has her questions answered. The insurance company called to ask if she wanted them to assign an advocate to go to the appointments with her and help remember the details of what information has been given. (She declined given she didn’t feel an advocate for the insurance company would be unbiased.)
Whereas the other two medical things have left her feeling alone, breast cancer has made her feel great by comparison.
Monday she met her oncologist – a woman who has been spotlighted as a woman to watch in the area several years in a row. She spent almost 90 minutes with the doctor who answered and anticipated all of her questions. Longest doctor’s visit ever.
What is the prognosis?
She has cancer. It is hormal in nature meaning it will be something I have to worry about. Given my mom was going through menopause by age 38, it really does not surprise me. Risks increase with early menopause. But, it also means that this is totally no related to family history – her other family members, that is, that have had cancer. Totally different beast is what she has.
At this point, the doctor is encouraging a lumpectomy. Why? She does not believe there is any point in doing more. But also, given my mom’s recent health, this will be less stress on her body positioning her to be more healthy in the future. Great point.
She has early stage cancer meaning they caught it early, she may only have to have radiation and not chemo, and her prognosis is good. Granted, all could change post- surgery if they find it in her lymph nodes, but no one gets the sense this is false optimism.
Mom’s head is spinning with information at this point. She is going to let it settle, then schedule surgery. Her attitude is great. When I asked if she was going to do a lumpectomy versus a full mastectomy, she said either way is good with her. She’s done with them.
So, how is Mom doing?
Pretty damn good given she just found out she had cancer less than a week ago. I do think, however, she should do this:
|thank you, Domenico, as I am guessing you retweeted that so I would see it.|
As for me – how am I doing?
I’m okay. Worried about her. Feeling like I need to keep close tabs on her and my dad. Both are self proclaimed Jesus freaks. Not a bad thing, but she does tend to take the “God will provide the path” which means she is a lot less active in her life than I would like. While I’m glad she has religion, she puts her faith not only in God, but also the doctors, nurses, and anyone else telling her what to do. She asks too few questions and retains too little details. This passive approach drives me nutty as it implies sometimes that she feels she needs to do nothing to make things get better. Makes me feel like I have to be more involved – asking and demanding she get questions answered and follow through on prognosis.
Then there are my brothers. My youngest brother is freaked out. For the first time ever, he has had the realization that our parents could die. Sucks when you finally realize it, but it is life. Maybe because my dad’s mom died when I was 10 and he was 31 that me realize how little time we could have with our parents. So the youngest brother has been in full freak out mode.
My other brother is pretending it isn’t happening, I think. He’s quiet. No one is mentioning it. Denial is not just a river in Egypt – and he is off to be an example of it.
And I’m worried about my dad. He will be lost without her. I know he has spent three months worried out of his mind about her. And while trying to take care of her, he has been working full time – making sure they have an income and he doesn’t lose his job. As his employees told me one day, they are worried about him having another heart attack given his stress and poor eating. They aren’t the only ones.
I can only hope we all find the family laughter. We joke. We laugh. We support. We need to find it. Not only for her – but for us.
Because laughter is always better than crying…..and more healing.