Monday, December 29, 2014

The Things I've Learned While My Mom Fights Cancer

Her second day at the hospital with my son, Logan.  I wish she looked even this good now.

I'm not so sure my mom's fight with cancer will be a winning victory.  I'm not so sure of anything right now.  It's the world of the unknown that hurts the worst.  Am I making the right decisions for her?  Is she going to pull through this one?

My mom has been battling lung cancer since September.  It's been a long, hard road.  As her main caregiver and Power of Attorney, I've seen too much of this disease.  I've seen it rip the human mind, body and spirit from her.  And I hate it more and more each day.

Right now my mom is in the hospital fighting (or not fighting) for her life.  The chemo and radiation are over and have been for a week, but I believe her will to live gave up before that.  We don't know right now if she's in remission or if the cancer is still invading her body.  We'll know soon.

Mom has been in the hospital since December 23rd because she literally quite eating.  And by literally, I mean it in every sense of the word.  In the last month I can honestly say she's eaten less than one whole meal the entire time.  How she's still here, I don't know.

Since being in the hospital, it's been a big roller coaster ride.  Her potassium is critically low.  She still won't eat.  A feeding tube can't be put in place until her blood platelets are at a certain level and she's medically stable.  She's had hallucinations that have kept both her and me up all night.  She barely wakes up long enough to take her meds.  She's literally starving to death.  And all while I sit and watch.  Helpless.
Also on the second day, with Adam

No matter where this journey takes us or how her story ends (or begins again), I've learned a few things in this short time:

1.  My mom is a fighter.  

She's been through hell and back.  She knows how to come back from a battle with a win.  Even if she chooses that she's wore down and ready to throw in the towel, I respect her wishes.  Even the strongest have to know when it's time to quit.  It's not to say I'm ready for her to pass on; that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's saying that I believe in my heart of hearts that she is worn down and wore out, and this is her way of letting us know that.  I don't love her any less.  I'm here with her to the end.

2.  Family matters.  It really, really matters.  

I have the most amazing husband ever.  I've cried to him more than any grown man should have to deal with.  He's went above and beyond with his comfort and his actions.  My kids have shown amazing patience and compassion.  They still get to be normal teenage kids but their lives have been heavily altered too.  They are okay with dealing with this topsy turvy world right now,
and I couldn't be a prouder momma with the way they've showed exemplary behavior.  My siblings and others in the family have banded together with me to get me through this.  My sister told me today that I've shown amazing strength during this time and she's super proud of all I've done for mom.  Just hearing those words meant a lot.

3.  People don't always know what to do to help, but they do want to help.  

We've all heard the saying "Just call me if you need anything".  Pride gets in the way of actually calling or asking for help.  I've had a lot on my shoulders and have taken much of the burden, mostly because I'm too prideful to ask for help.  My husband took it a step further and actually called people out on their "just let me know if you need help".  And people actually responded!
A good friend and co-worker took me out for supper.  She let me eat AND vent.  Our church family, especially our small group, has been coming in almost daily to pray over mom.  A dear friend spent the night at the hospital with me and mom last night.  Just to be there, and be a friend.  No strings attached from these people, just pure love and support.  

4.  Only God knows the plan.

It's a world of unknown right now.  I want to fix mom.  I want everything to be okay.  And it's not.  But I know without a doubt that it's in God's hands and His control.  I can only be there to love and support my mom.  God will take care of the rest.


Theresa Mahoney said...

I am sorry you are going through this. I understand every emotion you are going through, as I had to watch my dad battle lung cancer 20 years ago. A strong man who never quit, watching him wither away, go through the hallucinations, and eventually passing still weighs on me all these years later.

I am glad you have a good support system behind you. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It's a tough burden to bear when you feel you are doing it all alone. Hugs to you!

Rusthawk said...

Prayers for you, your family, and especially your Mom, Terra. Thanks for taking the time to let us know what's going on in your life.

Doris Calvert said...

Reading your story makes me relive my year all over again, with tears streaming I really know what your feeling, went through the exact same thing with my dad, he was the strongest man I know and the doctor said he had the body of a 40 yr old and he was 77, he never smoked or drank much, worked out etc. Then the C word, after 5 surgeries and the medical system that screwed up the diagnosis his cancer then spread quickly and sadly we lost him in June. He fought til the end but as he said you don't feel like eating, he loved food too! I wish I was there to give you a hug sometimes it's all we need, sadly I didn't get that, I am glad that you do,sending hugs and prayers.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I know how difficult it is to watch someone you love battle cancer. I will be praying for you and your mom. So glad you have strong family support!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I know how difficult it is to watch someone you love battle cancer. I will be praying for you and your mom. So glad you have strong family support!

katy said...

Your Mother, you, and all your family are in my prayers.

Renee said...

I don't even know you guys and this post made me cry. No words typed from a stranger are going to heal your heart, but I truly wish the best for your family and your mom. I'm sure she is proud and grateful to have a family growing closer together when stress from sickness often pushes families apart. You have given her the gift of peace of mind in return for her being a great mom :)

Mandy- Read. Write. Mom! said...

Terra, you have my heartfelt prayers. I wish I had the words that could magically make it all better. Watching those we love the most struggling at their worst is very, very tough. I am thinking of you and praying for you and your family. I am so glad you have an amazing support system.

susan1215 said...

Sorry you are going through this. I just lost my Mom last month. She has Alzheimers and at end she stopped eating and drinking and hospice just kept her comfortable until the end.