Friday, April 3, 2009

My mom is an ass kicker

I'm not talking about the "you're momma wears Army boots" kind either!

Several years ago Mom fell and broke her back. Her bones in her spine were too brittle to do surgery, so she spent many weeks in a rigid plastic brace. Barb came up from Florida to help with Mom's care. It was during that time Barb discovered lumps in the armpit area under Mom's left arm.

The clinic system in the neighboring town was using rent-a-doctors. The one that told Mom she had cancer was leaving the next day to go back to Florida. The doctor told us Mom had breast cancer, and showed us an x-ray with several white dots on it. The doctor said she would make arrangements for Mom to see an oncologist at a clinic about a 40 mile drive away, then she would be back to answer questions. The doctor never came back!

Mom had a wonderful oncologist. A young German doctor, that was tall and thin. When Mom walked next to him, she looked like a little girl. The correct diagnosis was very advanced lung cancer. The tumor was inoperable in Mom's right lung, and the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes on her left side, including those in her neck. That meant a chance the cancer had spread to her brain. After several tests and surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes, it was determined Mom's cancer had not spread to her brain or other vital organs. Finally a sort of sigh of relief.

During the consultations with the oncologist, he talked to Mom about what kind of treatments she would undergo. Mom agreed to chemo, and told the doctor she was going to "kick cancer's ass." She did too!

Three years later, Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in her left breast. Doctors made it clear that this was a new cancer, not the lung cancer coming back. Again, Mom was determined to win the battle. Only this time, she would have to fight along side a new oncologist (the German doctor had moved on).

Mom was told she had to have chemo (again), because they didn't have a way of knowing if the breast cancer had spread. You see, because they had removed the lymph nodes when she had lung cancer, they had no nodes to test.

If I wondered the first time Mom went through chemo, I wondered it even more the second time....how does someone make the decision to poison themselves? That what chemo is. I watched in awe as the nurse put a chemical into Mom's veins that was so caustic if it touched human skin it would cause severe burns. Again I wondered, how does someone make that decision.

At one point, Mom got so sick from the chemo that she was hospitalized. The next time we went to the oncologist, while we waited for the doctor to come into the room, I told her that if she didn't want to take the treatments, she didn't have to. It was her call. Mom's answer was to the point, "Why would I stop, I've come this far?" For a second time, Mom kicked cancer's ass!

Both of my folks have amazing attitudes when it comes to fighting diseases like cancer. They take it in stride, almost as if they don't know anything but to put one foot in front of the other. What amazing parents to have.

2 comments:

Fram said...

Your love for your parents is apparent, Boni.

My wish for you is that you find such strong love for yourself.

its_me_in_montana said...

Fram,

I wish the same for you my friend. Seems you are in mid-air on your jump. How does it feel, free bird?

I do love my parents. I am proud to have their genes. I too am learning again to take things in stride. One foot in front of the other. Breath in and breath out.