Irregular Borders

While bracing for the worst storm in decades Mom received the call she’d been waiting for from Dr.Savage this afternoon.  The results of the MRI taken earlier in the week were in.

There appears to be no spread of the cancer to other organs and the tumor itself is not really showing up very clearly. “Irregular borders”, hardly visible on the scan.

The tumor which had been discovered in January had been measured at 3.3cm at that time, then not seen at all on the last MRI taken in July after 9 rounds of chemotherapy with the drug Gemcidabine.  Now there’s an area on her pancreas that shows inflammation and a faint, ill-defined mass measuring 2.2cm.

The chemotherapy definitely worked, and she’s had the summer to enjoy her friends and family despite the ugly diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

What’s Next?

Dr. Savage is giving her pain meds for midsection and back pain that have increased since late August. They are narcotics which are supplemented by the occasional slug of twig tea or similar.

Mom’s blood sugar still bounces around, she’s always tired, takes steroids to keep the swelling and redness in her legs at bay, has two aortic aneurysm  and there are other cancer effects that make it really tough for her to get out of the house some days, but it’s still better than hospice – which truly was our fear before the call.

So…it’s all relative.  

At the end of October we’ll go visit a granddaughter in her first year of college.  Mom’s hair has started really growing back in and it’s curly (something it wasn’t before…) and she’s lost 17 pounds since her diagnosis.  Time to go shopping.

And we’ll hang out, laugh, cuddle and try to not think : “…this could be the last time we do this together.”

Then we’ll come home and Mom see Dr. Savage on November 3rd to discuss a second cycle of chemotherapy.

Just in time for the holidays. 

Season of Change

With the turning of the leaves so changes Mom’s health.  Painful days and nights are now the norm, with unrelenting fatigue no matter how much she sleeps.  Unsteady on her feet, falling is always a possibility.   Itchy skin, high blood pressure and blood sugar, with no other reason than her pancreas is sick with cancer.

Summer Was Great

Mom was able to attend her 60th high school reunion and enjoy her birthday with all the grandkids.  Outings became more routine again, and going to the market wasn’t such a chore. Remission – something we never expected, was a tremendous gift of time.

Last week as summer turned into fall Mom went to see her oncologist for a check-up after two months of being off of chemotherapy.

Autumn, Not So Much

Because Mom is having so much pain in her midsection and into her back it was decided that she should have another MRI.  Pain medication Norco was prescribed, and it was OK’d that she use whatever she needed to stay comfortable including Twig Tea made with the stems and leaves of a neighbor’s marijuana plants.

Chemo may still be on the table, but despite the miraculous disappearance of the tumor, it was hard on her system and Dr. Savage would like to avoid it for as long as possible.  Mom had gone to the hospital with complications as a result of the chemo drug that had worked so well against her cancer, and there’s no guarantee it will do anything other than make her feel worse at this point.

We left the doctor’s office knowing that the likelihood is that the cancer is advancing yet again.  About 24 hours later I checked the CA119 blood test and it was 898, up from the mid-300’s it had been a month ago.  An unfortunate confirmation that something is going on and it’s not good.

Everyday Rhythms

Tonight while talking with Mom on the phone we agreed that we feel this mutual sense of urgency to make meaningful conversation all the time now.

A need to talk in depth about everything, paying strict attention so as not to miss any detail.  The crazy thing is, what we end up doing is much more mundane, but equally enriching in its own way.

We talk about our dogs, what I found on sale at the store and what she might like to fix for dinner tomorrow.  We plan for my next visit and what I might help her accomplish while I’m there (changing her bed, going through closets to look for donations to the church yard sale, etc).

And each night when I call her and tell her I love her and she replies with the same, we find a comfortable rhythm in catching up on another day that has passed and planning for the next one.

Nothing urgent about it, and yet, meaningful all the same.