Monday, May 16, 2011

I've Been Avoiding Talking About It Long Enough

Ok so I went to see my mother, who has breast cancer. I can't really describe the amount of emotions that go through you when a loved one is sick... really sick and will get sicker before getting better. I think I did my absolute best to maintain a little bit of normalcy... but I was out there because my mom had cancer, there was no getting around that. The prognosis is pretty good, my mother should make a full recovery, but when it is your mother... things seem impossible.

Maybe the chemo is too much, maybe my mom is too old, maybe... there are a lot of maybes. We have to trust in someone, usually a doctor, that he is making the right decisions, that the nurses involved know what they are doing, that no virus/bacteria will make its way into my mother's compromised immune system. That is a big step for all (my mom and her kids) to take. It is by no means impossible, but it seems so at the time. And with my mom being so far away, the amount of control I have is next to nil. Which wouldn't be such a big deal, except my mom wanted to forgo the chemo and instead opt for something different out of Tijuana.

Which sounds crazy, I mean my mom is a nurse, but the lure of no pain and a "different way" (i.e. no nausea,  no pain) really sucked my mother in. She told me that she was not going to go forward with her chemo the day before I was coming out there to her. So at that point I didn't know what to do. I wanted to support her in what ever she decided to do, but I felt like this Tijuana business was shady at best. So I started digging and researching. I told mom, what I found (tests done on mice and clinical trials that really weren't there) and got her headed back to chemo.

Great right? I convinced my mother that the devil we know (chemo) is better than the devil we don't know. It was a hallow victory at best. Either way I could now be responsible for her death, by chemo or related causes or from listening to the quackery of promises being foisted out of Tijuana. That feeling is really heavy, and you want to make to right choice. Ultimately it was the choice of my mother, as it is her life, but I can't help but feel responsible.

We went with chemotherapy, which is basically poison. Poison that is supposed to kill just the cancer cells, but they haven't gotten it that good yet. Adriamycin and Cytoxan were the drugs used. There is nothing quite like taking your mother in to have that pumped into her. It happened over two days. Actually those drugs were given on the first day, along with Regulan and Ativan (anti nausea and chill out meds) and a Neulasta injection was given on her second day. The Neulasta makes more bone marrow, which makes more white blood cells, which were killed off the day before.

It was an interesting and somewhat depressing process. Also, she started losing her hair. So much so that she had me shave her head. Just that in and of itself was an experience. You can pretend whatever you want until the clippers come out. Now, everyone knows that my mom has cancer. She could get a wig, but up until that point it was in the back of her mind, but now she is forced to deal with it. It sort of brings everything home. And I did that too, with the clippers, right in her living room.

I'm not going to recommend that everyone go out and get cancer, because that would be awful, but I can say that I grew a bit because of this. Would I give it all back if it meant my mom was cancer-free? Hell yes. But she is not, and I'm a little more apathetic to anyone who is going through cancer treatment. I also wish I didn't know that much about our heathcare industry. But I can't change either one, so I'm playing the hand I got and rolling with the punches as they come.

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