#4 The Ugly Truth Diaries – All things medical

We’re nineteen days into this mess and finally there is some kind of news of what we may expect during the next twelve weeks.

Last week, my mum had to go to hospital twice for all kinds of tests; the one more unpleasant than the other. On Monday they did a bronchoscopy to get some fibre from the tumor to double-check if it’s malign or not (which it is, it’s been confirmed yesterday) and to examine what type of tumor she has. She also had to do breathing tests to see how well her lungs function and let her blood examine again for the third time in two/three weeks.

On Friday, she had to return fo a PET-scan to check her body for metastases. Being radioactive all day, my mum had to stay away from children and pregnant women. They could have mentioned small people too because as soon as she arrived home, I spent all day with her, feeling nauseous AND vomited at 4am (I swear I must have reacted on that even if it’s probably impossible). But talking about reactions, so did my mum. She had an allergic reaction by the evening but all turned out okay.

And then we waited. Four long days. We tried not to think about what the results may say on Wednesday because:

  1. They were checking for malignant or not – thus giving us a tiny bit of hope for it being not as bad as we thought, but scared at the same time it would be as bad as we thought. Or worse? If possible.
  2. Although the first scan said there weren’t any metastases, the fact that they were searching again by PET meant there could be a possibility again. So what if there were metastases? How bad would they be? What if they told us there was no treatment possible?

And then Wednesday arrived.

The tumor is malign. My mum officially has lung cancer. Swallow.
There are no metastases. YES.
But there are traces of the tumor in her lung and in her windpipe. Another swallow. What does it mean?
It means there won’t be an operation. Lump in throat.
The tumor is small-cellular. Is this a good or a bad thing?
This is not good. Oh, man…how much can we take?
This means there could be a metastasis in the brains. Oh, God, please no. Just. NO.
Because of this, she has to take another PET-scan to check for a brain tumor. Great. So now we can worry about that too for the next couple of weeks. Imagine if we didn’t have anything else to worry about…
Because of the nature of the tumor, we will start with one of the toughest treatments for cancer. Swallow the lump away. This doesn’t sound good, right?
The therapy consists of four units, each lasting three weeks. Quick count: until the end of October.

Therapy schedule

The first unit will start on Monday and my mum has to be hospitalized for three days. She’ll be given chemo. I can’t imagine living in house without my mum. It has never happened before. I know it’s a silly thought, but it scares me so much.

Then she can go home, but she has to be back on Monday, 4th of August and again the following day. I can’t remember why. We’ve been given a lot of information in just 30 minutes. It’s all so confusing. But I know she has to go back a few times to talk to our doctor (she’s so kind!) until unit two starts and she has to stay into hospital again for three days. Then it will be chemo+radiation. Which will be tough. It consists of going back to hospital twice, every day for the next three weeks.

My mum will loose her hair. She will be tired. She will be sick. And there’s a risk she’ll get difficulties with swallowing because the radiation might touch her oesophagus.

And then unit three starts with another hospitalization of three days. Just the chemo this time, and three weeks of I don’t know what. She should be “cured” after this. Hopefully. IF the tumor reacts. Another worry to add. And then her brains will get radiated too. Preventive if she doesn’t have a brain tumor. And all should be well by the time I turn 24 in November. Good. Somehow, I don’t really believe them. Our luck has run out many years ago.

At the moment, I’m going through this as if it’s not really happening. As if I’m in some kind of movie, or watching it. But I’m scared of seeing my mum bald. I know it’s ridiculous but then, well, it’s real then, isn’t it? And it’s not because we’re women and we love our hair (okay, that too…) but that’s going to be hard. That would be the ultimate slap in the face to wake me up from this state of…what? Oblivion? Ignorance? I don’t know what is going on with me. Because, right now, my mum is doing well. She’s healthy (er, as healthy as one can be with lung cancer…) and alive, even though the tears sometimes drop from her eyes, but I don’t blame her. I cry too. She looks so normal that it’s hard for me to accept her being ill.

However, I’ll be spending Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in hospital by her side and I’m pretty sure, watching her lie in the hospital bed will be a reminder that this is not a film. That it is real.

I can only hope the chemo will kick this cancer’s ass…and that they don’t find a tumor in her brains.

Previous posts:

#1: Raw Emotions
#2: A Battle of Morality
#3: Daily Night Demons


5 thoughts on “#4 The Ugly Truth Diaries – All things medical”

  1. Just want you to know I’ll have your and your mom in my thoughts and prayers. I just found your blog after doing a search for lung cancer on WordPress, because today I just got the news that my mom has lung cancer. We’re still in shock and I needed to read more about it and also hear from people going through it — so, know that your blog is surely helping others. Thank you for writing about what you’re both going through…it helps knowing others out there are experiencing this even thought at the same time I wish no one were, of course.

    1. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. How did you find out? Was she ill (my mum had a cold for five weeks and no antibiotics were working). Do you already know what kind of treatment she’s going to have or do they still have to do a few tests?

      I understand what you’re going through at the moment. I’m still in shock sometimes, believing this is one horrendous nightmare that never seems to end. For now, I can give you one tip: whenever someone’s talking about lung cancer (and the person they’ve heard who had/has it), know that your mum is her own person and her lung cancer is not the same as that other person’s. Whatever people are saying, or the way they’re looking at you or your mum, trust your doctor and what (s)he tells you because they’ll know what will work best in her situation. If you ever feel the need to share or talk to someone, you can find my email address in Contacts. Feel free to email me whenever you like (even if it’s just letting go of your emotions and worries) because writing down has helped me to place my emotions and my thoughts. It helped me to organise them and understand what I’ve been feeling because I was such a mess at the beginning. I’ll think of you and your mum and I truly hope, despite the bad news, that everything will turn out okay in the end. Keep faith and try to find all your strength for this because you’ll need it. I won’t lie, it’s going to be tough.

      1. Thanks so much for your caring response, and I so appreciate you offering that I email you when needed. I want to tell you the same goes for me, with you — although I don’t know much yet about lung cancer, if you ever need to air your feelings about you and your mom’s own situation, I too welcome you to contact me. I also have a blog but my email isn’t listed on it; maybe I should change that, but in the meantime, I’ll email you with mine so you have it that way. As for my mom, for a few weeks she’d been having a cough that was getting worse, yet didn’t seem to be the kind that would respond to treatment, much like you said about your mom seeming to have a cold. And my mom found it odd that the cough sounded bad, yet wasn’t the type with congestion that eventually breaks or comes up (sorry if TMI). So she mentioned this at a routine checkup a couple of months ago and her doctor listened to her breathing but said her lungs sounded clear. When the cough was worse a few weeks from then, doctor said the same thing but my mom asked to be sent for an xray and the doctor said OK (with my mom’s insurance she needs her doctor to refer her). Good thing my mom asked for the xray, because it showed fluid on the right lung (I guess that can’t be heard though?), which prompted additional testing including the bronchoscopy that yielded the preliminary results that lung cancer was found. So we meet with an oncologist next week to find out the specifics in terms of what type and stage she’s in, based on stainings and other samples from the bronchoscopy that she had done (apparently those tests from the bronchoscopy take longer to come back?). She also is scheduled for a PET scan and a skeletal survey next week to see if it has spread, since she has some bone abnormalities too; the oncologist will know all the results by the time we meet next Friday. So, no specifics yet, and that’s made it hard too. Like I want to read everything I can about her specific case…but I have to be patient. Besides, as you said, no two people are the same so we always have to have faith no matter what we’re told or what we read. Thanks for sharing that, I found it very helpful now and know I will as we proceed with treatment, etc. Anyway, sorry for the long, rambling response. 🙂 I’ll email you shortly with my email address; thanks again for that, and for writing about what you and your mom are going through. I think that shows such strength on your part, and it really helps people for them to read about others’ experience with something like this.

      2. My brother is a bit like you. He searches everything on the internet while I try not to read much about it. I know this might be naïve of me but what I don’t know yet can’t hurt me (or my mum). For instance, on Thursday we read something about lung cancer and WHAM. Hard facts. Bye, bye hope. And this stupid little thing caused distress with my mum so she had a very bad day yesterday up until the point we had to call the doctor to make sure everything was still fine. You don’t have to apologize for long replies, I don’t mind. 🙂 I’ll be thinking of you and your mum and crossing my fingers for positive news (as positive as it can get while having cancer…).

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