Tormented by fear-filled thoughts and by the physical pain that seems to be increasing, Mom puts on a brave face each day, but there’s a deep sadness that weighs heavily on her and just won’t go away.
“When I’m gone…” she starts to tell me something that I’m sure she thinks is important, but I don’t hear her finish the sentence as I’m lost in my own head imagining and trying to push back the unthinkable.
I decide to crawl into her twin bed and cuddle up behind her. Our mutual warmth seemed to soothe us both. Our breathing slowed into a common rhythm and we found some peace amid the chaos of cancer.
With CA119 numbers increasing, it was decided that Mom would restart chemo. Since this is not curative, but rather an attempt to slow the cancer and give her more time, the same dose and type of drug that had worked before was to be used.
Dr. Savage warned her that the chemo might not work as well, or be harder to take this time around. A prescription for Fentanyl patches was given to her for a steady delivery of pain meds, instead of having her try to remember to take a pain pill every few hours. (Mom is allergic to many pain meds, so trying to figure out what will work is a challenge.)
The chemo treatment went well. The tech found her port and Mom didn’t even feel the needle going in. No nausea or significant fatigue after the treatment because they gave her steroids beforehand which actually amp her up for a day or two.
But then the crash.
Day three after chemo Mom could barely get up to use the bathroom. Her fatigue was off the charts and consistent pain continued, despite regular oral pain medication.
I spent a couple nights over at her house, helping and waiting out the chemo effects. It took about five days before the fatigue began to lessen and she could navigate her world a bit better. The pain continued, but she was doing her best to take her enzymes, eat, drink water and engage in conversations versus sleeping all day.
On Thanksgiving she looked beautiful. Make-up and hair done, she radiated holiday spirit and the love that binds us.
She’d gotten up early to get the turkey cooking, and had worked on Grandma’s stuffing the night before. Between the two of us we managed to get dinner on the table at lunchtime to allow for an early evening for all of us.
Exhausted, but trying not to show it I know she wanted to continue to visit. I assured her we’d be back and walked her down the hall to her bedroom. I got her into her pajamas and tucked into bed. And then she began to cry.
I took her face in my hands and put my forehead to hers.
“I’m thankful for you” I said.
“I’m so thankful for you too. More than you know…” she replied.
I know Mom…I know.