Monday, August 13, 2012
Today is my first day back at work in 12 days. My time off was very stressful, and as some of you know my mom was scheduled to have surgery at Mayo on August 7(bladder removal for bladder cancer) however that was postponed due to preop testing discovering she also has a cancerous tumor on her right kidney. The cancer also is in a lymph node near her kidney and another test showed something in the lymph nodes near her chest but they are not sure what it is. The kidney tumor and lymph node involvement was completely missed by the previous doctor treating her when she was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in January, a ct back then did show abnormalities but he kept insisting her kidneys were fine even when she complained of kidney pain. Because of these recent findings she will have chemo for the next 3 months, and provided the chemo does what it should, she will have surgery to remove her kidney and bladder after that. The chemo is really strong, 2 medicines, please pray that it works and that her discomfort and side effects are minimized. Some of the sides effects could be hearing loss, neuropathy(which my mom already has) and kidney damage, and obviously if she has one kidney removed the other one needs to be working. My mom is believing God for a miracle, that the chemo will wipe out all the cancer so that surgery is not needed, or at the very lease she can keep her kidneys. I'm hoping and praying for a miracle, too. She starts chemo this coming Wednesday, August 15, and will probably have a port placed Monday or Tuesday. Even though she didn't have surgery last week I still had the week off, and I'm glad I did so I could be there with her when she got the news that she also has kidney cancer and that the lymph nodes are involved. Her oncologist at Mayo assumed that we knew about the cancer in her lymph node near her kidney, but we didn't until he told her. He told her that's why she's seeing him. That makes sense because if it's in any lymph nodes they need to do chemo, they can't just remove the kidney. We ended up at Mayo twice in the last 12 days, both overnight 2 day visits. This last one was so that she could have a pet scan done. We had met with the Mayo oncologist the day before and in the course of questioning her about pain levels, he discovered that she had horrible back pain from apparently 5 herniated discs that showed up on an MRI in May. He had the films and was looking at them, when he got on the phone to call someone. I could tell it wasn't good what he was thinking. He thought he was seeing bone mets, and he asked a radiologist about it. They were on the other end and were able to see the films on their screen too. They assured him they were certain what he was seeing was bone marrow. But he decided to order a pet scan anyway. A pet scan shows where cancer might be in the body. The pet scan showed her bones were fine, but the cancer is in the right kidney and bladder like we thought, and also the lymph node near her kidney. There was also some questionable spots near her chest they aren't sure what they are, and we only found out about that when we went to a cancer center in Sioux City, Iowa on Thursday to meet with the oncologist who would be handling her chemo closer to her house in Spencer, Iowa, about 30 miles from my mom's house. We had to travel 2.5 hours to Sioux City on Thursday because the cancer center in Spencer was completely booked and in order to get her in their system we had to travel to Sioux City. They had set up an appointment there for 11:30 but they didn't get her in at that time, it was at least an hour and a half later to meet with the doctor for 20 minutes. The oncologist we met with hadn't even looked at her chart, and as we were sitting with her, she proceeded to look at the chart and look up the pet scan report. where she told us about the questionable areas near the chest. She gave us a sheet with info on the medication and told us the chemo has a 50/50 chance of doing what it should. Of course the doctor needs to say that because like everything else, there are no guarantees. The center didn't even have time to have a nurse see us to discuss the chemo medications, the doctor said that could be handled when my mom goes to chemo in Spencer. My mom did talk to her best friend who had liver cancer and had chemo using the same medications and did not experience any of the side effects and was not sick during chemo, drove herself to and from the appointments. The chemo did shrink that liver tumor enough to do surgery, and now my mom's bff is cancer free, a walking miracle because initially she was given 1-2 years to live. My mom's bff is tough, my mom is strong but I also know she is sensitive to medication. But they do give you anti-nausea medication through an iv at chemo visits so hopefully that will help. The oncologist that will be handling her chemo I've heard does research for Mayo and is really good so that is comforting to know despite the frustration of our long trip to Sioux City on Thursday to be seen for 20 minutes.
Despite all the stress of the last couple weeks, I've still managed to lose weight instead of gaining. I usually do my official weigh ins on Wednesdays in keeping with the BLC weigh in times, but since last week's weigh in the scale has hit below 200 at least 3 times so I'm hoping that will stick for Wednesdays weigh in. I've actually been undereating instead of overeating during these last couple weeks, but honestly that's sometimes what "normal" people do when they are under stress so I consider that progress. There was a day last week where I felt kinda sick and nauseaous, perhaps in response to all the bad news, or maybe sympathy sickness. For the last couple weeks ever since my mom had that first kidney biopsy she has sometimes been unable to keep food down. The nurse at the surgeon's office said it could be due to the iv medications they gave her for that, sometimes it takes awhile to wear off and like I said my mom is really sensitive to medication. The last couple days before I left though she was doing better. Before I left her house I did go to the grocery store and get her some food so that she won't have to get someone else to do it for awhile. That's probably another reason I lost weight not much food in the house. My mom, unlike me, is thin, usually eats healthy and exercises. It comes natural for her, for me, not so much, although I'm trying to change that. I did apply to be part of the Azure Destinations BLC team for round 20 at the suggestion of a fellow Sparker. She felt that might be a good idea since it's a little bit of a more relaxed team since things are up in the air for online time in the next few months, and it also sounds like a lot of fun esp when I am able to participate more. I think it will be a much needed distraction from work stess, mom's health, etc. and something positive.
Before I left for 12 days there was some work drama. As you know, one of my co workers is always trying to get off work early, leaving me to do all the work, taking extended breaks, etc. Well a few weeks ago I found out she had read a co worker friend's email that wasn't meant for her to see. It wasn't gossip what I said was just true. I think that's what ticked her off more than the fact I mentioned it to someone else. Anyway week before last before I left town she told me if I have a problem with her to tell her, not mention it to anyone else and if I don't she'd tell our boss. So later in the day I apologized even thought I don't have anything to be sorry for, I still have to work with her and keep the peace. After I apologized I got the lecture about how I'm not the only one with problems, etc. I guess that was sorta ironic giving the whole time she's worked here there's always some personal problem she's dealing with and it wouldn't be so bad except because of that she uses her personal issues to get out of working and that affects others, like me and anyone else she works with. Today and from now on, I'm just going to be more careful about who to trust, do my job, and that's it. I really don't need the work drama in addition to all the concerns about my mom's health. As it is I'm going to try and go to my mom's on some weekends as much as I can during the chemo process and save my time off for her surgery. Hopefully then I can get 2 weeks off to be there while she's in the hospital and then several days after that once she comes home. We're told the recovery process for the surgery is pretty much the same time frame it was before the kidney removal was involved, she'll just be a little weaker due to having chemo beforehand. At least she's got good care with the doctors at Mayo, and of course she's in God's hands so that's the best place to be. There are still days I have my moments of fear and worry, but I'm really trying to just accept there are certain things I cannot change and this is one of them. My mom is 72 and before this she was healthy, I think it would be alot easier accepting this if she was in her 80's and had been struggling awhile. And then as I've said before my brother is pretty much non-communicative, and we dont have much of a relationship, even though I've tried to change that. My dad is no longer a part of my life, and with the exception of one of my aunts(dad's sister) we are no longer communicating with his side of the family. My mom had a brother but she is estranged from his family because her brother turned his family against us. I recently found out my uncle died around the time my mom was diagnosed with cancer in January. So when I my mom is gone I will probably be alone. All the more important now for me to find a church family. I did recently get back in touch with a guy I used to know through a mutual friend, we were all in a small group together at my old church. We've met once about a month ago and now he wants to get together again. It's nice to have a friend but I dont have high hopes for anything more. We just don't have anything in common other than being Christians, and that's not enough to make a relationship.