If you recall this post from Monday, I had something stressing me out that I'd been keeping bottled up inside. I want to thank you all for your hugs and your offers to help and to listen. Time and circumstances have kept me from posting about this sooner, but I'm up against a brick wall now and it's time to tell you what the situation is.
My mom has breast cancer.
That was actually hard to type out. *sigh*
She found the lump late last year and I didn't even know about it until this Feb. Believe me, if I had known I would've bugged her to get to the doctor sooner. For a while she couldn't go though due to bad reactions to a new medication she was put on and then a parasite in her system that had to be dealt with. By they time she was over all that it was the end of June and the doctor had her get a mammogram and ultrasound. Even for that we had to wait 2 weeks 'cause they were booked solid. So that put us into July and the radiologist called the lump "suspicious" and the next step was a biopsy done in mid-August. About a week before we left for VanCon, we got the diagnosis...cancer. We were told we could still go on the trip, but she needed to decide which operation to have: lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Mom since told me that she was glad that we went to Vancouver because it gave her a chance to clear her head and just not think about it. We both had been worried for several months with all the tests, etc. and it was so nice to get away from all that, even though she had this big decision looming over her head the whole time. I worried she'd be sitting in our hotel room dwelling on it the whole time, so I'm glad that wasn't the case and that she enjoyed the trip.
Originally, she was supposed to have her decision for the doctor the day after we got back home, but there was no way we could keep the appointment. We hadn't gotten home until 2:30 in the morning and we both did a lot of sleeping for 2 days later. We were beat! So the appointment got moved and by the time we got there she still didn't know which way to go, but I'd printed out a ton of info. for her from online and she read it all. In some ways I think it made the choice more difficult. Meanwhile, we had to let our relatives know. That wasn't easy either, but we got it done.
Still undecided, my aunt arranged a meeting with my mom and my aunt's next door neighbor who is a breast cancer survivor. I think that hour talk really helped my mom. Before she'd been talking like she was ready to give up, telling me she'd been reading the obituaries and noting how few years women were diagnosed with cancer before they died. I told her that didn't show the whole picture, that that was only the ones that died from it. She countered that everyone who gets cancer dies from it, that eventually it will kill them. I told her there's lots of ways to die and cancer isn't always the cause even with people who have it. So we'd go round and round on that, which was frustrating and exhausting. She'd also say "if I survive the surgery" and stuff like that. Just trying to keep her positive, keep her going is an ongoing battle sometimes. She's never been an optimistic person, which doesn't help. But I think talking with the neighbor really changed things. For one, this woman had a very fast, invasive form of breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and has been cancer free for over 30 years now! They've told us that the survival rate doesn't matter between the two surgeries, but the doctor advised that with the lumpectomy my mom would probably be left with 65% of her breast and if need be they could do the mastectomy later on. So finally...that's what she's decided to do.
She's going in for the surgery tomorrow morning (on her 73rd birthday of all days). I'm trying to stay positive, but of course the closer we're getting to the time, the more nervous I'm getting. After all, my family doesn't have the best track record at hospitals. In fact, this is being done at the very hospital my uncle died in over a year ago. Of course, that doesn't have anything to do with the hospital, which is really very good, but still....it makes you think, irrationally though it may be. We have to be there super early so neither of us will be going to bed tonight. The surgery will take at least a couple of hours because they'll also be checking her lymph nodes for cancer. So far when they've checked them they've been okay, but they need to be sure.
So that's what's been going on for the past several months. Lots of tests, waiting, worrying, thinking, and decision-making going on. Lots of me trying to keep myself busy here on LJ and not think about it too much. It's still scary, even though I tell myself that these surgeries are done all the time these days and that the survival rate for breast cancer is improving all the time. It's still a frightening thought that this is happening to my mom. I love her so much, even though we butt heads and disagree sometimes. You know how it is with parents. They can frustrate the living daylights out of you, but you can't imagine living without them. And well, now that my dad's gone, I need my mom even more.
I've been kinda dreading, yet indecisive over even making this post, but keeping all of this inside isn't helping me either. That's why I had to go ahead and kind of unburden myself. You're all so supportive and caring and I'm grateful to have such wonderful people for my friends even though most of us have never met and never will. You're all this virtual shoulder that I feel I can lean on and I hope you know I'm here for each of you the same way. And I'd better wrap this up before I start crying...
I hope you can spare some good and positive thoughts, prayers, and vibes for my mom. I'm trying not to worry, but still, it's surgery and it's cancer and it's a whole lot of wrong where it's not supposed to be. I just want her to get through this and be okay. Thank you my friends. I can't thank you enough for all being here, if only online. You're an invaluable lifeline that I don't know what I'd do without. *HUGS*