Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cancer Chronicles - Update

I haven't given an update on my step-mom lately. For the past several weeks, the status quo has been to talk with her and Dad about once a week and to text throughout the week.

Through most of the summer she's been holding steady, and her outlook has been sunny and cheerful. When I talked with her the other night, it became obvious that things are becoming more difficult for her.

Her voice is much lighter now, and raspy. Her speech is interrupted with coughing. It's the kind of coughing that sounds incomplete. You know when you have bronchitis and you feel the urge to cough? You know that if you can bring yourself to plow through the deep pain in your chest caused by the cough, you would be able to expel a mouthful of goo, but it would be worth it because you could spit it out and get it out of you.

But then remember having that cough and needing to suppress it so that you could talk, or watch TV, or sit quietly somewhere? That's what she was doing. Her body felt the need to cough, but she was trying to suppress it, whether from fear of pain or because she didn't want to go into a coughing spell that would go on and on, I'm not sure.

All of this talk of coughing might not make sense, but when she was talking to me, I found it hard not to think of those tumors pressing on her windpipe. The ones in her lungs, making it hard for her to breathe.

MJ is the curious type. She decided that she wanted to see how much pain she would be having if she wasn't on the morphine. (She's on continual morphine and additional pain meds now.) She told me that once the pain wore off, her back hurt worse than any pain she'd ever felt. She said it was very stupid of her to test that out. But I get her. I totally do; I'd want to know the same thing. The tumor on her left kidney is the size of a football and that's where her pain is located.

I have no idea how much time she has left, but something in her has changed. She used to laugh all the time; sometimes as a nervous reaction, but often because she has always taken notice of the irony and humor in life. She told me that she watches TV - anything on TV - that makes her laugh. She wants to forget her troubles and smile for a while. And who can blame her?

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