Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer …
I know Mom appreciated everyone coming for Mother’s Day. “It really did me good,” she wrote, “kept my mind off things. Unfortunately when they left reality returned.”
I reported to my friends and prayer partners, “Karen completed her first round of chemotherapy and seems to have weathered the experience [first round] well … not too many nor severe side effects. Now, we wait and see if the chemicals do their job. It’s been a roller coaster ride for both of us. We’re trying to be strong for each other but after almost 40 years together, we both know each other’s vulnerabilities all too well. She’s trying to be a ‘trooper’ through the pain and discomfort and I feel so helpless. We were encouraged after Monday’s treatment, even thought we knew it was the steroids. Her breathing wasn’t as labored, she could get around okay without too much difficulty and she slept well. After Tuesday’s treatment — the double dose — her breathing again became labored, it became a struggle to just move around the house and she didn’t really sleep. After yesterday’s treatment, she perked up a bit. We’ll see how she does today. We’ve been putting our ducks in order. God, that’s hard … facing reality while trying to remain optimistic. We also knew this was palliative treatment — I’ll take whatever extra time the Lord gives me — but it hits you right between the eyes when you see the words ‘dying’ and ‘not expected to live’ in black and white. Those were on the handicap parking permit form we received from the doctor. It just sucks the optimism right out and leaves a void.”
Putting our ducks in order should be translated into Mom putting our ducks in order. She was the strong one, facing this head on. She filled out the usual DNR and power of attorney and started dividing her things between the kids and grandkids.
We talked about final arrangements, what she wanted done, but in my typical procrastinistic way, I put off going to Sanderson-Moore to “finalize” arrangements. So Mom decided she was going to go with me to the post office one day and while we were there, she conveniently steered me into the funeral home (which is next door) where she was an active participant in choosing her arrangements. The biggest part was choosing the urn and she brought the book home so we could look at it, discuss the options and run it by you kids.
I know it was a necessary step, but it wasn’t one I was willing to make. I’m glad she saw through my facade and went with me. I needed her strength to get through that. And I think it was comforting for her to know all the “i’s” were dotted and “t’s” crossed. It was comforting to me to know her wishes would be honored.
We fought this together. On the recommendation of her chiropractor, Dr. Chris Ryan, we saw a homeopathic doctor, Dr. Les Moore, who helped ease her pain by performing acupuncture for the lungs and liver and prescribing herbs for alertness, fatigue, digestion and anti-cancer.
Before starting the second round May 27, Mom had blood work and x-ray. The tumor in the lung had shrunk some (not much, but enough to help with her breathing) but amazingly, her blood LDH went from over 1,000 down to 200. Dr. Ignaczak said it appeared the first round of chemo hit the cancer in the liver and it was starting to regenerate. But he was cautious about long-term prognosis.
The report prompted me to update our friends and family, “It gave us both a chance to be cautiously optimistic for the first time since this ordeal first started and we were thankful for the many intercessions generated by our many prayer warriors. We have such a wonderful God!”
Mom’s hair started falling out and she wrote May 27, “Scott sent an e-mail. He shaved his head. Monica did mine yesterday. I cried the whole time but was worse when she did Joe! I made him keep his beard. He really looks cute. I’m okay today with it … Lots and lots of prayer. All I can say is God is definitely in control and awesome.”
To be continued …
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Make peace with your past – so it does not spoil your present. Your past does not define your future, your actions and beliefs do.