Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Today

First and foremost: thanks for all the kind wishes and emails. I love my Blog Family.

Anyway, we went to Cooper medical center in beautiful downtown Camden New Jersey for a consultation with one of the docs. The appointment was for noon, but mom was not seen until four in the afternoon. Be that as it may, we (my sisters, one brother in law, mom and dad and yours truly) went into one of those tiny waiting rooms and were finally greeted by the doctor, his assistant and an educational nurse.

In spite of the whole heavy scene, I could not but help think of that classic moment in A Night at the Opera when everyone is crowded into the tiny state room...and when the door is open, they all tumble out.

So it was relayed that there are three tiny masses. One is definitely cancerous, one is definitely benign, and the third one needs to be biopsied so that they will know what is what.

After the biopsy, the doc said that a lumpectomy or mastectomy would be needed, followed by radiation therapy.

Mom verbalized, very sternly, that she did not want to go through with any of this, as she does not want to spend her final years as a sickly woman.

The doctor calmly explained everything to her, and stated that, at this juncture, she will probably only need the lumpectomy and some radiation - he tried to stress to her, that from what he sees now, this whole event could be rectified in a few months and she'd be good as new.

Mom asked what would happen if they found out that the third mass was also cancer, what if it had spread.

Not wanting to be an alarmist, he did his best to reassure her that even if the worst case was in evidence (which he said he doubted), it was still early enough in the game for her to beat this.

That's when my mother's armor cracked and she explained how scared she is, how angry she is, how much she fears pain and sickness.

I was standing in the corner during all of this, watching. I looked at my mother and felt such pity for her, I knew exactly what she meant. I understood all of her reasons. Furthermore, she seemed much less her usual force-of-nature-persona, and just a terrified woman in her early 70's. It was all just breaking my heart. And yet, I stayed calm and cool and after everyone began throwing out opinions, I spoke up and tried to reinforce that what she wants here are some concrete answers and maybe some kind of guarantees (if that was possible).

This time, the nurse spoke up and, I think she finally broke through to mom, stressing the importance of this next biopsy as well as the testing to find out if the cancer had spread.

At this point, mom agreed to "think it over for a week" and she'd get back to him.

It might not seem like a lot, but I think some progress has been made.

After the hospital we all went out for dinner. My mother asked all of us our opinions, and one by one we told her what we thought. When we were through, she said, "OK, I'll consider everything everyone has said." And with that, she ordered a martini, and we ordered dinner.

After we got back to their house, I managed some alone time, and convinced her that something else she must consider is a second opinion. She seemed very open to that option, so if all goes well, we might even get this done by the end of the week.

And that was my day, I just got home, I am wiped out and drained.

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