July 11, 2014


Can I get off the roller coaster now? It's been a crazy few days. We met with oncologist that believed that my mom was stage IV instead of stage III B, she was unsure of the type of cancer and planned to start chemo next week. There would be four rounds of treatments which would be 4x/week with three week breaks in between. Leaving that appointment left us confused and feeling defeated. We knew we had to looking into getting a PowerPort implanted. So, we stopped in Dr. Chung's office to see about that and to have her incision looked at, because it opened up that morning. Dr. Chung was in surgery, and advised us that it may be infected. He instructed us to go the ER and he would put her on the books for surgery the next morning to treat the infection. If infection was present then a port could not be put in nor could she start chemo until it was completely gone. This was devastating. I pleaded that it didn't look infected, but something was indeed wrong. He said, he'd come by the ER to examine it.

Thankfully, blood work revealed no sign of infection and he was able to determine that this was a false alarm. Such a relief. Surgery was cancelled and mom just has a wound that needs to be packed two times a day. Fortunately, I have experience. Unfortunately, it's another snag in a mountain of problem solving, schedule arranging, etc.

We met with a second oncologist yesterday, for another opinion. We much preferred his approach and appreciated that he does not put the cart in front of the horse so to speak. He wants conclusive results rather than making assumption. Her pathology report is not complete. Findings indicate she has lung cancer, however, the type is unclear. It's about 80% that it is NSCLC. This doctor has asked for it be reviewed again by colleagues to see if they can get 100% certainty. It's important because treatment varies between NSCLC and SCLC. He has also ordered a biopsy for lymph nodes in my mom's groin. This will help determine the stage, as well as the type. Activity showed up in this area on the PET scan, it is unusual to do so for lung cancer. It is possible that it is due to another type or it could be benign. Time is of the essence, but knowing exactly what she is up against will only improve the success of treatment. So, I don't mind slowing down a bit to let due diligence take place.

We should have answers and a treatment plan by this time next week, at the latest. We can also admit my mom into the hospital and fast track the whole thing if her breathing continues to be a problem. It's our call, and time will tell.

In the meantime, I'd like to get my mom home for a couple days. I hate that she feels like a prisoner, but it's been what's best. I know once chemo begins she'll be stuck for some time so it's very important that she can find a way to recharge before the next hurdle. Going home, might just allow that.


Jay said...

Your blog actually prompted a mini-conversation with my mom. I hate to think that one day she'll be gone. She said that if she were ever diagnosed she wouldn't seek treatment. She's 75 and she feels very comfortable with that decision - so I support it 100%.

I'm glad that your mom is ready to take this on head on. She, like my mom, sounds like an awesome, strong women. I think it's a Midwest thing - they build us strong!

Hope you guys are doing ok.

Kellee said...

It's never too soon to have those hard talks. We all go at some point, so it's best to work out the details beforehand.

Talk about living wills, advanced directives, and especially when dealing with terminal conditions consider DNRs.

Also, name beneficiaries on all your accounts to avoid probate. If you have property speak to a lawyer to learn how to best protect it.

The best gift I think anyone can provide loved ones is a neat folder labeled "for when I die." Lay out insurance policies, bank accounts, lien holders, name utility companies (death certificates will need to be provided to close accounts), etc. Make your wishes known (burial vs cremation; wake vs memorial), and be as specific as possible. It will make life so much easier for those you love, when grieving the last thing you want to do is sort through years of paperwork, and argue over what everyone think's you would have wanted.

It's a personal matter, but I believe it's very important to support your loved one's decisions regarding their health/care. All you can do is collect as much facts and information to help them make an informed decision. How some one feels today may change in down the road; however, as long as wishes are known they can be accomodated.