Today was the first time Mom’s CA119 numbers have gone up instead of going down while being treated with chemotherapy.
Admittedly, not what we wanted to see, but despite the numbers she looks good; her weight remains the same, she’s not jaundiced and she still has her hair, and that’s deceiving.
Perhaps that’s why pancreatic cancer is so hard to diagnose in the early stages?
Individuals with the disease can look perfectly normal despite having a cancer that doctors still struggle to effectively diagnose and treat.
Last year when I began writing this blog I had no idea where Mom’s cancer journey would take us.
I couldn’t have imagined the amazing remission she was gifted with this past summer following four months of chemotherapy, nor the way her hair would come in post-chemo; thicker, curlier and more beautiful than before.
I struggled to not see each family milestone and holiday as the last we’d have together, and I went on anti-depressants to combat the tearfulness I found enveloping me all too frequently.
We both came to terms with her lack of mobility and new ways of doing things.
While I actively sought to find hacks to make things easier for us both and thanked God for the privilege of being able to help her, Mom mourned the loss of her independence and thanked God for the help of family and friends.
Our entire family has all lived with cancer for awhile now, and life has changed.
I feel older and it’s harder to find joy, but when I do it’s in simpler things.
Moments of beauty and connectedness to people, animals and nature hold more meaning. I have no interest most ‘things’, which sometimes leads me to lack focus, but I’ve learned to give myself permission to wander too.
Mom navigates her world with grace, strength and determination.
We talk at least twice a day and I think we both relish even the most mundane of conversations. She has had a friend die of this disease in recent months, and another is newly diagnosed. She’s in the middle; living with cancer and learning its lessons along the way.
Where We Are Today
In the past two months Mom has been enduring increased pain in her midsection and back, relying on her Fentanyl pain patches and oral doses of Norco to manage her days and nights.
She can’t help but wonder if the cancer is winning the battle against the chemo and or moving somewhere else.
Her legs swell and get very red due to the chemotherapy and her own poor circulation.
She has chest pains occasionally which is concerning as she has two aortic aneurysms and has had heart attacks in the past.
Her pain used to always be related to eating, but now the dull, deep ache exists all the time and it gets worse after she eats.
One exception to the Eat And It Hurts Rule seems to be if she adds pot to the mix.
Last week she decided to use her vape machine to get some medicinal herb relief and it worked. Then she got the munchies and for the first time in 5 years ate some popcorn she’d been craving. Always before it had hurt way too much for her guts to process it, but apparently if she has enough dope on board – it’s all good!
Her CA119 numbers rising isn’t what we wanted to see, but we still have faith that an increased dose of Gemzar or something else may once again knock her cancer into submission.
In the past week she has seen her granddaughter off to her second semester of college, spent time with her dear friends, and is making plans to spend time with even more friends during her church’s all-you-can eat crab feed.
Life goes on, and thankfully together, so do we.