Monday, June 14, 2010

The Cancer Chronicles, Part 1

My step mom is dying of cancer. Since I haven't made much use of my blog lately, I decided to write about her journey from my point of view.

MJ doesn't just have cancer. She's dying of it. It's everywhere: her kidneys, liver, lungs, spleen, lymph nodes, bones and possibly her brain.

I'm in Buffalo, NY this week with the kids. We drove out on Sunday. 850 miles. 14 hours. Six states: Iowa. Illinois. Indiana. Ohio. Pennsylvania. New York. Ohio was the longest. That state seems tiny on the map, but it takes forever to drive through.

We're here to help my Dad deal with the reality of this situation. So far I've done a lot of hand holding, waiting in waiting rooms, talking on the phone to my relatives, making lists of things to accomplish in the week that I'm out here, and listening to doctors.

The doctor at Roswell Park Cancer Institute was a handsome young blonde man who spoke with a slight German accent. My step brother (Dad and MJ got married when I was 34 years old, so that term 'step brother' is weird to me) and I sat in an exam room while he told us about the options.

I always thought that doctors who told you bad news did so in their offices. They'd sit behind a gleaming polished mahogany desk, remove their eye glasses, polish them, and then proceed to tell you that you were dying.

That wasn't the case here. Nick, Dad, MJ and I crammed ourselves into a small exam room while the doctor leaned up against the counter to talk to us. His backside kept bumping against the keyboard, causing the monitor on the table behind him to flicker distractingly.

I still don't understand why, but she was being seen in the Urology department at the Cancer center. Maybe because they believe the cancer began in the kidneys and kidney/urology medicine is linked? Who knows. Another distraction in the room was the poster that detailed the anatomy of a penis. I can't help it; when I'm stressed, sad, and trying not to freak out, and there's a poster of a bunch of penises on the wall, I want to giggle. But I couldn't giggle. Not today. So I stared at it instead, and let my eyes glaze over as I stared with out really seeing the drawing of a sad looking, flaccid little penis. The edges of the image blurred as my mind tried to grasp what the nice looking German doctor was saying.

(to be continued...)


Moneik said...

I really relate to what you are saying. I took my mom to the chemo dr. when he told us the cancer had moved to her brain. It was 3 days before Christmas and she started radiation the next day. I was alone the first day with mom and called my dad and brothers and said you need to get here. They were there the next day, but it was still unreal to sit and have the radiation dr. tell my mom to prepare for the end of her life. It was such a shocker. The next few months will be hard, but continue the fight and be there for your dad. Prayers to your family.

The Casual Perfectionist said...

I'm so sorry you and your family is having to deal with this. I'm thinking about you. :(

Becca said...

I'm so sorry, Mon. And I think it's such a good thing that you're writing this, not just for now, but maybe for in the future when you're looking back.

As a previous commenter said, it often does feel unreal, and I wish, personally, I had written more down of what was happening and how it felt. Later on it's harder to get a grasp on it.

Barb said...

My SIL died of cancer several years ago. She fought it for more than 10 years but about a year before she passed away they told her that this was the end ~ no chance for recovery. It was hard, she and I were close. She wasn't in much pain at all and still very cohesive. We had some very interesting and frank conversations. I still miss her and you and your family will be in my thoughts.

NaysWay said...

Oh no. I'm so, so sorry. Weird. I've been talking to more of my friends about how AIDS used to be the epidemic, and now it's cancer. It's everywhere and everyone seems to have it/be dying from it/etc. Ugh. I wish I had some encouraging words for you but... maybe I'll just think about flaccid penises with you instead.

I'm sorry for Ohio, too. I know my state sucks.