Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great way to start retirement

So, it's a crazy time right now. Not only are Red and I on the verge of moving house. And that, most people acknowledge, is one of the most stressful events in people's lives. But also, my mum has been quite ill. She's 61, she remarried three years ago, and she retired last year.

The story is this.

She was hospitalized suddenly one evening about five weeks ago with a suspected mini-stroke. At admittance she was given a CT scan as a matter of course. And this revealed some shadows on her brain.

Later tests, such as MRIs, showed shadows on her lungs and stomach. And the word came back that she probably has cancer.

In all, she stayed in hospital for 22 days, which is a pretty long stretch, I'd venture to say. And in all that time she had further tests and biopsies and whatever else could be thrown at her. Meanwhile she wasn't really eating particularly well, because hospital food is, frankly, quite shit.

Some bits of good news came through at various stages. They came back to say that the stomach was clear of cancer and, later, that the lung, too, was cancer-free.

The brain, however, is a continuing issue.

What they believe is that it is secondary cancer -- that is, cancer that has spread from elsewhere in the body. But they can't find the source, the primary cancer. That said, they have revised their thoughts on the lung somewhat, saying now that there is something at the back of it.

Now, here's the kicker. Or one of them.

Here in the UK -- or maybe simply at the hospital she's in, I don't know -- they don't or can't do biopsies of secondary (metastasized) cancer in the brain. Indeed, if it was primary cancer, it would be easier to deal with. So, because they can't do a biopsy, they can only reach a decision by consensus as to whether this is actually cancer.

We are awaiting that decision as I type. It's been two weeks now since her tests went to the experts in Birmingham to analyze and discuss, so we should hear back any day now.

And if it is cancer?

Well, here's the second kicker.

They will treat it with radiotherapy to the whole brain. This will be a series of about ten 3-minute sessions over the course of two weeks (on weekdays). This is hoped to shrink the cancer and help improve my mum's "quality of life". That's a term that never sounds good, right?

But it's not a cure.

And if the cancer comes back? Well, then there's nothing more to do but wait.

Word is that we could be looking at her having only six months.

Or perhaps it's all a big mistake, and the experts will tell us that. We can always hope, right? Denial is a wonderful thing.

Here's a picture of denial. Ooops, no, it's da Nile. See. I can still do great comedy.

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Blogger Say It said...

This is terrible. I'm so very sorry. the whole situation is made worse by the waiting game. Sending positive thoughts to you and your family.

11 August, 2010 11:43  
Anonymous Lee said...

Oh dear....that's terrible. So sorry. I've got no words that help. Hang in there.

11 August, 2010 12:51  
Blogger Milla said...

*Aste, first of all I am very sorry about this. I wrote to Red as well. I just can't imagine what it is like for you and your family, the waiting and not knowing for sure.

Here in the UK -- or maybe simply at the hospital she's in, I don't know -- they don't or can't do biopsies of secondary (metastasized) cancer in the brain

Maybe the doctors could refer your mum to this place?

Thsi is where Vanna was referred to for her cancer (that is what it turned out to be, at the end) a few months ago. They can do anything there, really.

11 August, 2010 13:45  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

This is no way to come back blogging from.. But glad you are back. I hope they can tell you that its one big mistake and she is healthy as a horse.. so to speak..

11 August, 2010 16:00  
Blogger Camie Vog said...

I'm sorry. The waiting and wondering what is next can be unbearable. I am in the same boat as you, my dad had an MRI last Friday. The paperwork had brain tumor listed, but the are also looking for Alzhiemers. Please keep us updated. I'll send good vibes your way.

11 August, 2010 16:44  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Oh dear, I am so sorry to hear this news. Ona plus side...sometimes people can live with this kind of brain cancer for quite a while. At least I've heard of this ...sometimes NOT doing surgery is actually a good thing allowing the body to just "house" the invaders. This post sounds like a whole episode of HOUSE tv show!!! It's crazy. (I know Bill Mahers dad lived years with his "mini-stroke" turned brain cancer...they felt operating was a no go...and let it just live. My step mums mother lived for years with a similar situation of no find the primary cancer and in her brain was a side lot)

Sure, anecdotal stories...but keep the faith. Sometimes we can live with these strange invaders. I am so sorry to hear you are going through so much....having said that...i am so glad to read about it on your blog and see you writing again.

Lots of prayers and meditations and hugs heading your way...

11 August, 2010 17:52  
Blogger Four Dinners said...

Carol said she'd say a prayer for your mum on Sunday. Don't do that sort of stuff myself so fingers crossed old bean.

11 August, 2010 20:19  
Blogger punxxi said...

I'm so sory about your mum, and the misery of waiting,not knowing.
What Candy says is true, sometimes surgery is not such a good idea. Every case is different, because everyone reacts differently to everything. One of my husbands friends is an oncologist and he thinks that in 10 years they won't even be doing surgery on many different types of cancer. My best firend here has metastatic cancer throughout her body and they are not doing anymore surgeries on her and give her at least 10 years to live (she is 67). When mr. punxxi had cancer he got online and looked up everything he could on the subject, then talked to his dr. friend, and came to the conclusion that surgery was not the way he wanted to go, he had 46 radiation treatments and has been cancer free for several years now. Haivng the internet is a great research tool, you can see what various treatments are available, and you will also have many people on here thinking positive thoughts for her. I wish all of you the very best.

15 August, 2010 22:08  
Blogger Cynnie said...

sucks huh ?
my mom was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer ..
they took a mass out and now the fun part starts ..chemo .
she's thin as a whip and mom has never been scared in my life ..this is a woman who was widowed at 38 and raised 5 girls alone ..

hope your mom has a relatively painless recovery..
i'll send all the positive vibes her way i can :)

17 August, 2010 16:50  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

It's good to read some positive stories, folks -- thanks. And also horrible to read of other people going through the same shit, like Cynnie's mum and Camie's pop.

Big love going out to your mum, Cynnie. And to Camie's dad. Fingers crossed all round.

Punxxi: Great to hear your OH is all clear.

17 August, 2010 17:58  

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