The tricky thing about cancer…
The logistics of caring for two sick family members is difficult, but doable if only for our clear understanding of life’s priorities. To describe us as close would be an understatement. We’re that annoying pod of six that seem to forget the world around them. We rely on each other for advice, humor, and support, particularly in times of crisis. This is no exception. Yet every family, every person, has its limits. We’re nowhere near ours, but it’s taxing nonetheless. Our new normal is uncomfortable, if not tragic. Two people, both at the prime of their lives, are staring at the very real possibility of saying goodbye far too soon.
Our mother was diagnosed with stage IV GBM in July 2007, and to make it all the more tragic, she received her diagnosis on her 65th birthday. Since undergoing a complete resection in August, followed by standard chemo and radiation, she’s begun an experimental chemotherapy treatment, which has provided us with the slightest hope – and that’s, frankly, all we need. She’s slowing down, which is the best way to describe it, but otherwise, doing well, minus a few balance issues. In February, she accidentally caught her foot on some carpeting and hit her face. Ever the able man, my brother joined the rest of the family in helping her to her feet. It’d be a struggle for him to help now.
After believing for two years that his initial chromophobe renal cell carcinoma (RCC) was ‘self-contained’ and essentially cured, we’ve learned he has what is essentially stage IV metastatic chromophobe RCC – an extremely rare form of RCC. He’s spent the better part of the past month or so in the hospital, trying to get a handle on some fairly significant symptoms. He’s lost nearly 20 pounds in the past two months, and, like our mom, struggles with his energy. My brother and mother now have the peculiar situation of trying to remain strong not only for themselves, but for each other.
What being ‘strong’ entails, no one knows. It’s this nebulous sort of strong that gets me through most days, and yet, makes it so difficult to describe our reality. How does one talk about such a thing within a family, let alone with others? We’re not the family that resorts to vague euphemisms to explain life’s process. Yet still, we haven’t really talked about the prospect of things ending just yet. Perhaps it’s because we all feel there’s plenty of fight left ahead, or that there’s simply not much to say at this time, and timing is everything. I’m sure those conversations will find their way in due time. Right now, we’re just trying to get through the day, and with each other. — J
Write a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.