Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mom's Good News.

So I am catching-up with all of you, and made my first post, since April, the day-before-yesterday.... Yesterday, though, is significant: it is the day we met with Dr. Randolph(astounding, accomplished Oncologist at CTCA), to discuss Mom's MRI (Brain--secondary site) CAT-Scan (Lung--primary site)and see what--if any--progress had been made.... When he entered with his by-now-famous-broad-smile, we knew it would be good news, but I certainly did not expect more than freezing or slowing-down the cancer a bit. After all, it is Stage 4.... He brightened and said "Well, we have news! The tumors in the brain are all shrinking, and are much smaller...they were tiny and they are tinier. They will continue to shrink, and eventually, they will become scar tissue...and in your lung, the tumor was 2.9 centimeters; it is now only 2 centimeters." Mom was offered three options: she could choose to begin Tarceva immediately, or take a break from treatment and then begin Tarceva once she feels better and is more rested, or do nothing at all, and use Tarceva as a "Back-up", in case the cancer "comes back aggressively".... "Tarceva will not extend your life, but what it will do, is make it possible for you to NOT have to do Chemo or Radiation; it is a 'maintenance drug', which is very effective." Mom chose the second option. We'd been hoping for a chance to use Tarceva, as in order to qualify for this wonder-drug, one has to have a type of mutation--or, as in Mom's case, an "amplification" of this type of cancer, AND you cannot be currently on Radiation, AND if you used chemo, it had to have worked....or else Tarceva, will not. So, we (Mom, the whole family, and me), are feeling really great about this.... I had planned to talk in this blog-post, about the past few months--the fear, the stress, the fatigue setting in, the looooong hours of riding back and forth to the wonder that is Cancer Treatment Centers of America, in Newnan, Georgia; I could have talked about my fatigue in Caregiving--that no matter how much I tried to be as patient, loving, and kind as I know Mom needs me to be, I felt I was not doing so. I felt, as I said in my blog-post two days ago, "bereft". At the time I used that word, I thought I had not yet felt a loss, but that's not entirely true: I fear sometimes I'll lose my empathy--the one thing besides art, that makes one truly human. I worry I'll become bitter from being tired, or harsh because I feel so. very. alone. I don't know if anyone out there has any "tips", for handling the loneliness that comes with finding no time to call anyone at all, or for postponing the satisfaction of the longing to tap keys, to create words on a page, (words that just might make some sort of sense--to me, first, and if I'm incredibly lucky--maybe someone else can connect with them, too), the sorrow at realizing no matter HOW HARD I TRY, I cannot--ultimately--change the fact that our beloved Mom, has cancer--Stage 4 cancer. Everything changes, every minute, every day.... Reality probably is always changing, but we are all so very, very busy, we don't see it--recognize it--as such. Cancer grabs us by the shoulder and says "STOP!" And that's a very, very hard thing, to hear. But for now at least, the STOP-ping is the stopping of Chemo and Radiation, and this has become the lingering, in-the-moment, of popsicles, ice cream, going outside, and walking on the grass. Here's to Mom--Demetra Leonora (Comati) Allender-- Cheers to you, Mom! Peace, kids.


James Joiner said...

That's fantastic Lisa! You all can relax a bit. I have a friend who lost both her parents one after the other and was their care giver.

She said I had such peace in taking care of them and knowing I was the last thing their eyes saw. Be thankful for what we have.

Take your Mother out, buy an ice cream, sit outside and smell the roses. Be thankful for every moment we have, it is precious. Good luck all of you!

Estelle Ford-Williamson said...

Lisa, you are such a good daughter. All those, including me one day, who are facing life challenges such as this is to feel truly alive and not at death's door. Alive, breathing, seeing, being--all those action verbs we writers know are so important--they're important to all of us at each stage of our lives: the puzzled growing up years, the frantic young adult and mid-adult years, and at the end of life, too. Just remember the verbs. Love ya gal! And I'll see you Saturday at DBF!

Lisa Nanette Allender said...

Thank you BOTH!