The old waiting game ends…

and a new one begins.

Last night, we learned that my mother does indeed have cancer again. This time, it’s ovarian cancer, but that’s really as much as we know. We don’t yet know the type or the severity. But we do know that she will have to have a couple of rounds of chemo before they operate to remove her ovaries and any abdominal lining they think they need to once they get in there. Then she’ll probably have to have more chemo. She’ll find out more in the coming days.

It really hasn’t sunk in — I was more happy last night to learn that she’d finally gone to the emergency room for her kidney-stone-induced nausea and dehydration on the way home from the oncologoist — but it scares me that she’s talking in terms of just wanting to make it to one last Christmas or to see her first great grandchild born in June. She said that kind of thing the last two times, but it still worries me that she thinks less “I’m going to survive” and more “Hope I live just to xx goal”. Don’t get me wrong. Goals are good. I just hope she doesn’t think she’s done fighting once those goals have passed.


[Added much later: Ultimately, my mother did only make it to her goal to see her first great grandchild born. Once the due date passed in late June 2010, she started going sharply downhill, and she only lasted about a month after the baby was born. Funny, my attitude about the whole thing changed radically between when I’d originally written this post and when she finally died. Once she had her stroke and the chemo stopped, there was no “survive”. There was only a clock counting down.]


7 thoughts on “The old waiting game ends…

  1. What I’ve learned from other people going through life-threatening illnesses is that the “fighting” is often something that loved ones insist on; while “acceptance” is sometimes more important for the person going through the illness. It’s a more peaceful and calming way of going through the trauma of the illness than trying to psych yourself up to do battle with things going on in your body. Perhaps the mindset of “I’m ready to die, if I have to” makes you stronger than an angry, fighting mindset?? Mainly, I think you just have to let the person deal with what they have to deal with the best way they can, though it’s very difficult for you as the daughter. Of course you want her to fight; but you’re coming at it from a completely different perspective than she is. I’m very sorry that you’re having to go through this and I do hope your mother will see many more Christmases and grandchildren being born.

  2. All very true. My mother was actually quite calm and collected on the phone. Part of that could have been the morphine and Gravol high she had after the ER visit. (Who wouldn’t be feeling good after that?) But part of it was just acceptance, which I fully embrace. It’s so much better than fear.

    I would never ask, order, or beg her to fight — it’s something she has to come to on her own and it’s not my place to tell her what to do. (Well, I nagged her to go to the ER this week and I’d do that again but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.) But there’s a difference between Zen-like acceptance and giving up, and it’s that boundary that scares me a little. It will always scare me a little. Intent can be a powerful thing.

  3. Yes, it is. A big part of the energy of life – the life force is the will to live, the desire and passion for life. Once that’s gone…. though sometimes people live on because of the strong desire of their loved ones to keep them alive. I think that’s what happened with my Dad. I think he would have given up months before he died except that my mother was not ready to let him go. She was convinced she could fight for him and make him better. The day she finally accepted that he was going to die; he did. This is something Kubler-Ross talk about a lot too. I don’t know if you’ve read “On Death and Dying”? I found it helpful at the time. Of course I was fairly young then. I don’t know how it would read now.

    • No, I haven’t read it, but I’ll keep it in mind. For later, maybe, though it’s basic concepts are so widely known in popular culture that I’m not sure I’d need to.

      I’m not afraid of death. I just hate it when people leave me, whether it’s to move on to a new job or a new city or to whatever comes next. I miss their company, their presence, and it takes me time to get used to it — I don’t cope with change well at the best of times. There was a time, when I was much younger, when I might have been one of those people who just couldn’t let go. Not now. But that doesn’t mean I want her to be ready to go now before things really start.

  4. Pingback: “C” is for mystery « Life Begins at 41…or maybe 43

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