Dig For The Pony March 2017

I Don’t Want To Leave You

It’s been awhile since I’ve felt like writing anything here. The truth is, writing about my Mom’s battle with cancer takes a lot out of me.

I often have to remind myself to stay on task.  My purpose with this blog is to report about what’s going on with Mom.

I’m trying to remember to have faith and that God has it all, and that all I have to do is be brave enough to show up and do my part.

Some days I’m better at that than others.

But aren’t we all?

This Week

Trying desperately to stay on task herself, Mom continued to take her oral chemo meds and felt awful doing it. She started getting red bumps all over her face and arms, and her belly pain was significantly worse than before she started taking the medication.

I got to her house and found her in the hallway standing with the assistance of her walker – panting and sweating. She was very pale and unsteady on her feet. When I asked her what was going on she seemed confused by the question. I was scared.

She sat down and was still out of breath.

Since she has aortic aneurysms, COPD and cancer, with a history of heart attacks, I was trying to decide if any of it was going sideways enough to call for an ambulance. After a few minutes of chatting I was convinced nothing dire was afoot, but she did need a pain pill and to call her doctor.

Dr. Savage told her to cut the dose of the chemo in half and if it was still an issue the next day to drop it. I think Mom felt both relief and defeat with that decision.

She turned to me after that conversation and with tears in her eyes said: “I just don’t want to leave you.”

I know what cancer does and how it works. I also feel that if you are a cancer patient your mindset, your support system and your faith can alter that course.

I went home that night wishing I could be in two places at one time.  My house and her house.

The next afternoon when I returned she was in bed curled around her pillow. The doctor had called again and they’d decided to stop the oral chemo all together. It was being used as a boost to the infusion drug she receives once every three weeks, but it was not ‘the one’ they thought would do the most good.

She said she was in less pain than the day before, but that the pain always amped up when she would eat.  We both agreed that she needed to eat though. And as always, drink more water to help her feel better and flush that stuff through.

I had stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up some things and set to work in the kitchen to prepare a whole wheat pizza (love their pre-made dough…) with zucchini, onion and mushrooms. I steamed two artichokes to go with our pizza.

Mom took her pancreatic enzymes and tried a few bites. She liked it. I liked it. And amazingly enough, she was in no real pain.  She finished eating her pizza and artichoke and felt relatively good afterwards.

Success! 

Low fat foods in small amounts seem to be key. Even better if it’s meatless.

I spent the night with her and took my dog Brownie to get a recheck by her surgeon the following  morning. Brownie had surgery to remove half her lower jaw due to squamous cell cancer 14 days before, and thankfully is cancer-free according to the pathology.  Following this good news we returned to Mom’s to do some housekeeping.

Mom managed to pay some bills and clean up her desk. Both things that took focus – something she has been lacking on chemo.

While checking her cell phone she noted a message from a sweet friend who wanted to come over with another friend to give her a healing massage. They set it up for the next day.

The massage was wonderful, but the loving friendship and prayerful action was what was so healing. When I spoke with her hours later she relayed to me that she’d actually seen Christ standing at her feet at one moment during the relaxing session. Mom slept very soundly after that visit.

Today when we were together her midsection pain was roaring again.  Her energy was low and while she had gotten a shower, that was about all she could muster. We ate lunch and more paperwork. I listed her appointments on a whiteboard near the kitchen, did some laundry, dumped trash and generally ran around trying to remember what I needed to do next.

Amid all the busy movements I often abruptly stop just to hold her close.

If she can tolerate it, I curl up next to her in bed. I hold her hand. I kiss her lips, cheeks and forehead. I look into her eyes and try to memorize her face.

And then I gather my stuff and head for the door to make the trip home.  Sometimes crying in my car before I leave the driveway, but always grateful for another day to be together.

Next Week

On Thursday of next week Mom will get blood drawn. Friday she will see Dr. Savage at 8am to re-evaluate chemo treatments and discuss how she’s feeling. If the cancer numbers are going down in her blood and nothing else is off, it’s likely she will receive an infusion of chemotherapy the following Tuesday.

Despite her pain Mom hasn’t lost a lot of weight or become jaundice, both common late stage symptoms and side effects from treatment of pancreatic cancer.

With cancer treatment, physical changes are inevitable.

Some people ask me how my Mom looks. They seem sort of afraid to ask, and even more afraid to hear the answer.

The funny thing is, she looks pretty damn good considering!

People are surprised by how she is still ‘in there’ with the same warmth and sense of humor, but I’m not.

My eyes see her by way of my heart.

From every angle, in every light, all I see the same beautiful spiritual essence I’ve loved all my life.

And I would imagine that no matter what comes next, that will always be true.

 

dig for the pony February

Things To Work Out

This morning the first thing on my Facebook feed was a memory from 1 year ago. It was a video I’d taken of myself at the hospital when Mom had been moved from surgery to the ICU.

Mom had just had a wedge resection of her left lung to remove a malignant tumor. We knew that following her recovery from that surgery doctors would be addressing the mass that had been found in her pancreas, but was determined to be a different type of cancer – not metastatic.

Prior to her lung surgery the surgeon had indicated it would be an easy in and out procedure. “No big deal” the surgeon said.

The reality was much different.

She spent three days in the ICU and due to over medication. We thought we were going to lose her once when she became unresponsive with shallow breathing.

Thankfully she returned home to recover. Dragging her oxygen hose all over the house, she struggled to get her strength back.  Slowly the pain in her back subsided and she was able to leave the supplemental oxygen behind.

Next it was time to deal with the elephant in the room – pancreatic cancer.

Some Months Are Worse Than Others

I hate February.

I have hated it since February 4th, 1985 when my Dad died from colon cancer.  And every February since that time, there’s been something shitty going on to reaffirm my dislike for the “F” month.

This February it’s been a couple of things.

Mom has felt exhausted, weak, shakey and pained 24-7.  She gets up, eats, takes her chemo pills and falls asleep in her chair before taking a shower and going back to bed. She eats what she can in small meals, but nothing really tastes good and knowing it will all hurt makes eating a job that must be endured, not a pleasure.  If she does stay awake it’s tough to concentrate, which is very frustrating for her.

Other than for medical appointments she doesn’t go out much now. Part of it is a lack of energy and the other part is our desire to limit her exposure to bugs that her weakened immune system could not fight off.

She did venture out last week though, to the memorial service of a friend who recently died of pancreatic cancer. It was a tough day physically and emotionally for her, but a good one too. She had suited up and showed up, not letting cancer win on that day.

I suppose the best news is that the new chemo is causing few side effects –  nothing as bad as expected. Unfortunately we don’t yet know if it’s working.

The protocol chosen for this attempt to slow the growth and spread of her cancer is one that is used for cancers of the digestive system: stomach and colon primarily. This is due to the fact that there really are not too many treatment options for pancreatic cancer short of surgery for which Mom is not a candidate.

Mom’s CA119 numbers have risen to 3600, the highest they’ve ever been. While Dr. Savage says this is normal when changing therapies, it’s damn tough not to see that as a discouraging sign. Despite this her other blood tests look good.

I’ve been trying to encourage the use of marijuana to help increase her appetite and alleviate some of her pain.

She wears a transdermal pain relief patch, supplements with oral narcotics, takes pancreatic enzymes and eats very small meals, yet is in pain all the time. I know that somewhere in her brain there’s still a stigma attached to the use of pot, but despite my own lack of use, I still push for it as I know it has helped her in the past.

Next week Mom continues on her oral chemotherapy, and then she will have a week of taking no chemo before an infusion of another chemo drug and beginning the current oral chemo again.

It will be interesting to see if she gets any of her energy back during those seven days off chemo.

I hope so. She deserves a break.

It’ll be really nice when it’s warm enough to go out on the patio to enjoy the freshly planted flowers, sniff the air and feel the warmth of the sunshine on our faces.

In Other News

In addition to Mom’s struggles, there have been a few other challenges.

My dog Brownie was diagnosed with oral squamous cell cancer.

X-rays indicate it is in her jaw bone, so next Wednesday she’ll go to a veterinary oral surgeon to remove a portion of her lower jaw in hopes of stopping the cancer’s spread. It’s an expensive surgery and the only option to save her life.  Seeing my dog Maize’s ashes in an urn on my shelf, I just couldn’t bear the idea of euthanizing another furry family member without a fight.

My husband is dealing with some medical issues that continue to be investigated, and I had a punch biopsy to see if something that’s been on my face for two years is skin cancer.

At times it is all laughable.

How can there be so much all at once? But then I wonder why I think we should be immune?

Have I mentioned…“I hate February.”

Thanking God For Another Day

In an attempt to thwart the cloud of negativity that can decent unannounced at any time, I wake up and start praying prayers of gratitude.

Beginning my day from a place of peaceful acceptance versus warrior mode seems to help every aspect of my life.

Today I thought about how in a couple of weeks my beautiful, smart, funny daughter will turn 19.

I remember bringing her home and taking her back to the hospital days later. I remember the sleepless nights and medical challenges that followed. But those memories are nothing I dwell on as I have so many more happy ones of our years together.

I also thought about how close my daughter is to her Grammy. How watching them grow together has been one of my life’s greatest joys.

And how despite having to let go of a career, the decision to move closer to my Mom when I found out I was pregnant has always been the ‘right’ decision.

I cherish being able to see my daughter grow into her own unique self, and I cherish the many, many moments in which my Mom has enveloped us both in her love.

Despite the ‘ugh’ of February and the associated struggles, spring is coming.

Time to rise to meet it.

 

 

 

 

New Chemo February 2017

Cellophane On My Lips

Taking a drink of the ice water I’d just handed her Mom said “What did you put in this?”

“Ice” I replied.

Looking at the glass in her hand she said “It feels like there’s cellophane on my lips.”

New Chemotherapy Routine

We’d just come home from the oncology office where Mom had gotten her first infusion of Oxaliplatin (trade name Eloxatin).  This drug is being used in place of Gemcidabine (Gemzar) which had stopped working.

One of the possible side effects of Oxaliplatin is cold sensitivity which can be very severe.  Some users had reported taking a drink of cold water and feeling like they couldn’t breathe because this side effect made their throat feel as though it was closing.

Mom’s one drink of ice water about one hour after her infusion gave her the sensation that she had a cold, slick coating on her lips.  It was an eye opener that led us both to wonder what would be next.

The new chemotherapy infusions of Oxaliplatin will be given every 3 weeks and take 2 to 3 hours to complete each time.  In addition to the chemo drug she receives a steroid (to help it work), Benadryl (for any possible allergic reaction) and an anti-nausea medication.

When she received it this first time she said it was sort of like being right on the verge of going under general anesthesia.  Nothing like that occurred with the Gemcidabine, so that was new for her.  We always see a lot of different patients (ages and stages), many of them sleep through their treatments.

Maybe this is why?

Additionally, she began an oral medication called Capecitabine (brand name Xeloda) 1000mg twice a day for 21 days with 7 days off before beginning another cycle.  This drug comes in 150mg and 500mg doses and if she had to pay for it out of pocket, it would be $3200 per cycle. It’s shipped overnight to her home from a special pharmacy in Florida.

Thankfully, she has good insurance!

First Week With New Meds

Mom has felt increased fatigue over the past few months. It’s the kind that she never gets rid of, no matter how much she sleeps. Sometimes is so severe that just getting up to use the bathroom leaves her winded and spent as though she’d run a marathon.

Weariness makes it really tough to plan on doing anything. Throw in a few socially unacceptable side effects and you find yourself stuck at home and waiting for your next pain pill much of the time.  It’s boring, frustrating and seemingly never-ending.

Frankly, it sucks!

Rule #1: Stay Hydrated

“Drink lots and lots of water to flush the chemo through your system.”  This is a constant reminder by all the oncology nurses.

Whenever Mom hears this she nods and does her best to comply, but you have to be awake to drink water and that isn’t happening very often.

I have given her a water bottle and the goal is to drink two of those a day, in addition to water with all meals and snacks.

Rule #2: Wash Your Hands

The oral chemo drugs are toxic, and not just to cancer.

When handling Capecitabine the warnings include: Wear gloves. Wear goggles. Wear a mask.

She’s swallowing four of those pills a day and you don’t want her to touch it?!

When I clean her bathroom I glove up, and wash my hands whenever I think of it, but it is a challenge.  I don’t know why though, considering the folks who mix up the infusions are in Hazmat suits.

Rule #3: Report all side effects.

When nothing your body is doing is normal, it’s tough to know what really qualifies as a side effect.

Truth be known, Mom could call and report something new every blessed day.

Instead she takes it all and plugs along, mentioning things to me which we mutually weigh and rationalize away.

The ‘biggies’ make her list which we take to Dr. Savage each Monday.

Where We Go From Here

Mom’s CA119 numbers were at about 2200 prior to this new chemo being administered. Her abdominal pain continues to increase and she is weary in mind and body.

The hope is that the new chemo will encourage the cancer to stop growing and not spread, despite the drugs not being the first choice in treatment of pancreatic cancer.

There are several things that can affect how long she will be on this treatment.  Most of them have to do with how far and fast her CA119 drops, but others relate to how well her body responds overall.

Her heart, liver and basically every system in her body will be taxed by this poison, making it a race to see if the chemo can get to the cancer first.

It’s still all about one day at a time, and in that there is a lesson and a bit of hope for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

fart frying pan

Like A Fart In A Frying Pan

When I was growing up my Mom would say to me, “You’re like a fart in a frying pan!”

I was never quite sure how she could visualize that one, but I could tell by the tone of her voice and the look on her face, this was not meant to be a compliment.

Interestingly enough, this statement is what comes flying into my mind lately as I struggle to find focus and get things done.

Dealing With Demons

I’m almost 50 years old and I can think back over at least 40 of my years to see a pattern of behavior in myself that still exists today.

When I’m feeling overwhelmingly stressed by things that are completely out of my control, I clean and organize.

Now I know that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but the reason I do it probably is.

Cleaning and organizing things is a way that I can focus my energies and create order out of chaos.  It’s like a psychological steam release valve for me.

The problem is that I tend to do things in such a manic way that I completely exhaust myself and never really complete a task before seeing another one that needs my attention. And until I complete the multiple tasks I’ve locked in on, I actually feel increased stress instead of alleviating it.

This is a mild form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

OCD is something that runs in families. Mom has a mild form of it as do I, and my daughter has it as well.  (Surprisingly, only two of the three of us use cleaning to ease our anxiety.)

At its best, OCD can spur your psyche on to do great things.

At its worst, it can  and can be extremely debilitating causing severe depression and lead to thoughts of suicide.

Thankfully there is help and management is possible.

New Chemotherapy Added

Shifting gears a bit…

The last time Mom had her blood checked her CA119 numbers were higher than they’ve ever been.  This prompted Dr. Savage to revise her treatment plan in hopes of turning the tide once more.

Next Monday Mom will have an infusion of Gemzar (the chemotherapy drug they’ve used with success up to this point…) and then a new chemo drug (taken orally) will be added to the mix.  There are a lot of side effects listed for the new drug, and we are just praying that she doesn’t have to weather them.

Also on Monday is a trip to see her cardiologist – the guy who the last time she saw him asked her if she wanted to die – because she had gained some weight.

Needless to say she told me she didn’t see the point in going to see him, but apparently he has to see her to renew her heart medications. Cynically we both think it’s just to be able to bill insurance for the visit, but she’ll go.  Her aneurysms are still part of the equation, as is her occasional chest pain, but really who has time to worry about that stuff when you’re so busy going to chemotherapy?

In the past month Mom is visibly weaker, but still has her hair and most days, her sense of humor.

She often feels shaky and unsteady on her feet, making her decisions to forgo her walker or cane in the house that much more frightening to me, but I know she just wants to maintain some sort of normal.

Pain is constant and worse after eating.  She continues to wear Fentanyl transdermal patches and still munches on pain pills and pancreatic enzymes to keep going.  While pot is available, she tends not to use it unless she’s nauseated or needs to sleep – and then a brownie is her go-to.

I know she is frustrated and scared.  She misses the person she used to be, and worries about what is coming next.

I guess I just ‘feel’ all the time.  Day to day, moment to moment, and try to remain grateful for whatever time we have together.

 

 

 

dig for the pony January 2017

One Year Later

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.

Life Lessons

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.

 

pancreatic cancer path

It Could Always Be Worse

This past year has been an incredibly rough one. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, social unrest, political challenges and untimely deaths of stars we thought would live forever.

Loss is all around us every day and we are pummeled by news of it at every turn.

With or without cancer in your life, it all can get to be too much.

So when asked “How are you doing?” I pause and sigh.

I really don’t know how to answer that question in a way that doesn’t scare people away.

What I want to say is…

I do know that it’s not normal to cry all the time, so when that started happening I called my doctor. Now with a daily dose of 50mg of Zoloft, I feel loads better.  I can laugh again, and I’m able to roll with things instead of feeling overwhelmed.

I sleep fitfully most nights, clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I wake up with headaches and I have ulcerative colitis that sometimes keeps me close to home.  My fibromyalgia is on high which is the pits because I can’t remember a lot of things (brain fog they call it…), and I tend to use the wrong words when speaking.  This leaves me looking a tad silly and feeling frustrated.

I’m grateful for friends and family who have stuck by my side despite the challenges and changes, and not run away even when I’m too weary to continue to hold up my public mask.

Yesterday I had to put my beloved dog of 16 years down after taking my Mom to her oncologist to discuss further treatment of her pancreatic cancer.

It was a shitty day.

Today there was good news.

It appears that the same chemotherapy drug (Gemzar) that put Mom into remission in April, continues to work in the management of her cancer.  Her blood tests showed a 500 point drop (down to the 1800 range)  in her CA119 with an infusion every other week.

While she’s very tired for about a week after the chemo, she gets one week of pretty good days as long as she keeps up with her pain meds.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring or even if it will come. I suppose if I dwelled in the darkness of that thought for very long I’d succumb to its power, but instead I choose to run towards the light of optimism housed inside the love I feel for others.

How am I doing?

Thanks to the special people in my life, pharmaceutical intervention and God’s mercy, I’m OK.

And most days I’m still able to remember that it could always be worse, so I keep digging for that damn pony.

 

Christmas peanut brittle

Peanut Brittle and Cheese Balls

For as long as I can remember my Mom has made sweet and savory treats to give as gifts to friends at Christmas. It takes a lot of sugar, time and energy to produce it, but she has always enjoyed witnessing the happiness it brings to those who receive her gifts made with love.

Despite having received a chemo treatment this past week; a treatment that has her feeling much worse than the last one – pained and very fatigued, she has made lists, shopped for ingredients and produced many goodies to share.

I arrived at mid-day to find her large kitchen filled with works in progress.

Sweets and Treats

“Stir this…”, she says as she hands me a wooden spoon and puts me to work in her kitchen.

Mom had already made half a dozen batches of peanut brittle and was putting me to work on Rice Krispie treats.

“We’ll do two batches. Do you think this is enough butter?” she asks as she throws in a stick.

My Mom’s ability to not follow a recipe and still come up with something delicious has always fascinated me. I suppose over time I’ve developed some of that talent, but not to the degree in which she perfected it long before there were hundreds of cooking shows on television each day to show us how it is done.

“What did you put in the cheese balls?” I ask her.

“Cheese” she says with a smile and tired eyes.

“I know that smart ass, but what else?”

With a smirk she says “A little of this and a little of that…until it tastes good.”  She knows what she’s doing.  The mix smells amazing!

We both laugh and then she proceeds to tell me about how my Dad used to eat anything she made – with gusto!  (Dad was full of enthusiasm for life, and he loved food, so no surprise there.)

With cereal stirred into the marshmallow and butter, we worked together to put them into greased pans.  The cheese ball mix had softened and after mixing it it bit more, I set to finely chopping parsley to roll them in before chilling and wrapping up for gift giving.

Mom sets to work on another batch of peanut brittle.

I think she has probably made close to 1,000 batches in her lifetime and since the invention of microwaves that production has increased.

Everyone who tastes it raves about it, so I thought I’d share her recipe (she gives it out so I’m not giving up a family secret here) for you to enjoy.

Emily’s Microwave Peanut Brittle

Christmas peanut brittle

Kitchen stuff you will need:

  • 2 Quart Pyrex GLASS Measuring Bowl (microwave safe)
  • Metal baking sheet with sides
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Oven mitts 
  • Microwave 900 watts or more

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2  Cup Light Karo Syrup 
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Melted Butter –  salted butter is preferable and NOT margarine.
  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla 
  • 1-1 1/2 cups Dry Roasted Peanuts (salted or unsalted)

Stir together in large Pyrex measuring bowl: sugar, Karo syrup and water and microwave on HIGH for 7 and a 1/2 minutes.

Carefully remove from microwave.

Add 1/2 Cup MELTED Butter and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla.

Stir into heated mixture and return to microwave to cook on HIGH for another 5 minutes.

Remove from microwave and add 1 to 1 and a 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted), stir and return to microwave for the last  1-4 minutes of cooking on HIGH.

**The last part is the tricky one as you don’t want the sugars to burn (getting too dark).  Watch carefully and if the color is golden brown it’s good!  You don’t have to cook it beyond that point, so if it’s not yet at the 4 minute mark – no worries – take it out.

The last step…

Add 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda to the mix and stir.   (It will puff up a bit, and turn a lighter color, which is normal.)

Pour hot mixture onto a greased or non-stick baking sheet.

**The bottom of the sheet will be very hot, but hold onto the edges and tilt it, letting gravity move the mixture slowly to thin out over the sheet.  After a few minutes it’s OK to take a fork and press down the mix, pulling towards the edges of the sheet at the same time.  As it cools these marks will fill in.  When completely cool, twist the baking sheet to break up the brittle and store in air-tight containers.

Pride and Perseverance

Mom was staggering around the kitchen without her walker – something that drives me crazy as I always have this fear of her falling.

In between stirring and chopping, I found myself rounding up her walker and plopping it in her path.  She’d smile and go the other way, leaving the walker behind.

This walker-game we play is both amusing and infuriating!  Most days she indulges me while I can see her, but I know all bets are off when I’m not around. Sort of like a toddler or a teen, she needs to feel in control of her life.  Especially when everything feels so out of control.

She has said to me many times that the thing that drives her most crazy these days is the loss of autonomy she feels.  It’s having to depend upon others for so many things that when you can do them for yourself, seem so insignificant.

Things like driving to the market and easily walking inside, shopping and loading your groceries in and out of the car.  Something like this that she has probably done thousands of times with ease, now looks as daunting as climbing Mt. Everest.

So on a day like yesterday when I could go over to her house and help her to accomplish something that is of great importance to her – assisting, but not doing it for her,  it felt like a privilege.  And as a bonus we got the opportunity to spend time together and do “normal” despite the increasing abnormal circumstances.

Later in the day Mom was weary and pained, but happy to be out and to have accomplished her goals for the day.  We set out to  deliver some treats and then on a whim decided to check out some streets decked out in holiday lights.

The decorations were amazing and the moments with Mom on this day – perfect in spite of cancer.