Friday, December 11

Cancer Sucks

I got home last night, late and exhausted.
My flight took a little longer then expected, but I didn't really mind. I fell asleep the second we took off.

Kelowna is a beautiful city, ruined now for me, but it is beautiful.

I arrived Tuesday Morning around 11 in Kelowna. My parents were not getting into town until later that afternoon, so I spent some time wandering around. exploring. Ate lunch and took pictures.

When they did finally get into town, we checked into the motel and we went to get food. Mom was on a clear liquid diet for the last 2 days because of surgery so we had to find her soup. Spirits were up and she was making some rather sick humoured jokes. We are a family of dark humour.... that will never change.

I was tense, but mom didn't seem to be. We spent the evening chatting and mom learning how to use her new iPad. She sent out messages to everyone telling them she was feeling good and was excited about the morning. I could see when she would start to get uncomfortable and you could see the pain starting up again. She would never say anything, Good lord, not my mom! Julie would NEVER complain about anything like a sharp pain in her chest going through to her back (that i found out felt like a sword) that apparently was around a 7-8/10 ...not my mom. She just wiggles and rubs her tummy, constantly fidgets to get comfortable until she can't take any more and surrenders to pain meds.

Mom laid on my bed with me, learning how to face time, chat with her best friends, listen to music.
She would hold my hand every so often. I could feel my chest get tight and a lump form in my throat every time she did. This is not our normal, we are not these people. Huggy and touchy, but every time I see mom and we learn to be closer, it feels so nice. We are not these people, but are learning to be.

We had to be at the hospital by 6 am and surgery (Whipple to remove a single cancerous tumour on her pancreas) was slated for 8 am.

Mom was up before us all, anxious to "get her old life back" as she put it.

See...dark humour texting to her sister right before we left for the hospital. Also...yes, that is actually my mothers phone, so you have a better idea how hard teaching her to use the iPad was. She is and forever will be a creature of habit.

It was going to take 5-6 hours, then she would be in recovery for 2 hours and we would get a phone call around 3pm from the doctor telling us how everything went. After all her pre-op questions and a run through of what to expect we said bye and promised that we would be here when she woke up.

Steve and I drove around the city. Killing time.  We ate, went back to the hotel to see if there was anything good on TV, text people who were asking how the morning went.

And just after 1pm my dads phone rang.

I was sitting across the room from him when he answered it, so I didn't hear what was said. I didn't need to. When his face went ghost white I figured I needed to moved over and listen.

I put his phone on speaker so I could hear what the doctor was saying to my dad.

"When I opened Julie up, I found that the cancer had spread. There is not just the one tumour anymore, there are about 5 more that I could feel in her liver"

If I am honest, I don't remember much after that.

I had to force myself to listen carefully to the information...blah blah blah.... only removed one..... blah blah blah.... did this to make her more comfortable.....blah blah blah.... there wasn't more that I could do.

I have never seen my dad cry. not ever. And he was so sad. His eyes were filled.

He got off the phone with the doctor and said, well that's not the news I was suppose to get.

He just sat there, stunned. I didn't know what to do or say. He called his sister and spoke with her and it broke my heart listening to him say things like ' this isn't how its suppose to go" " This isn't fair"
"We aren't done"

After a few calls and some tense and quiet moments. We headed to the hospital as soon as we finished letting a few people know.
Bad news is such a horrible thing to pass along. I resent it very much that I had to tell people that love my mom such a terrible thing.
On our way to the hospital to see mom, my dad and I devised a plan that we were not going to tell mom just yet (in case she was still groggy from the drugs from surgery) we would wait until she was fully with it or 8 am the next morning when the doctor said he would meet with us all in moms room. Whatever came first.

It was a good plan.

When mom came in the room ( a larger room with 3 other patients and their loved ones, separated only buy curtains) my mom had clearly already been told. The look on her face almost sent me running out screaming. She just looked defeated.

She just bawled... but silently... cause there was a room full of people and my mother would never make a scene, ever.
I hated that place right then. It was so hard to watch her have to come to terms with the worst news imaginable and not be allowed to do it your own way. She couldn't walk. The surgery she had left her vulnerable and unable to move in any independant way at all. She just had to lay there. She could hardly even move her arms to even wipe her tears he epidural had her still frozen.
Laying in a bed, flat on your back with at least 8 other people able to hear your whispers while you process what you were just told.


I didn't sleep much that night. Just laid there, thinking.

8 am the next morning the doctor came and explained, in more detail for us, what he found.

All those spots/circles in the triangle... those are tumours and the triangle is her liver. The other big dot is the OG of tumours that's the pancreas one that is now the size of a golf ball and would have been too dangerous for mom to be removed.

So what he did do was help mom to be more comfortable. So she will have less pain to contend with and if she decides to do chemo to try and slow the growth of them.  A bowel resection and he moved a tumour to help with the bile duct.

He was really good about not giving any sort or time frame, but when mom pressured him, he did.

So, time. That's what it's about now.

I named this little gem the sucking balls game. It's moms breathing exercise, she has to suck the three balls up. And because I am an immature child... it makes me giggle every time.

Last week my mom was competing in (and won) a plank challenge in her gym. She normally walks at least 5 km every day. Does boot camp 3 times a week and still slalom water skis every summer.
But this week she stays awake for 2 hours at a time then needs a nap. She can't walk more than 2 steps unassisted and can't take a deep breath in.

I'm angry this didn't work out the way it was suppose to.
I am angry that my mom, in her words, "won't get her life back"
I am angry that yesterday before I left my mom had "the talk" with me about her wishes and said that she hope my kids will remember her.

I am angry that I can't stop crying and that I had to see my dad cry. I am so very sad for him.

But let me share with you the things I am so very very grateful for.

I am grateful for my moms friends who flock to her to help.
I am grateful for the time I got to serve my mother in a way I never have. Helping her in the hospital and getting to spend that time with her was wonderful. I can't wait until she gets home for Christmas.

I am grateful for medical staff that are brilliant and that take such good care of her.
I am grateful for how close our family is becoming through it.

Cancer sucks.



Unknown said...

Love , prayers, and positive thoughts for you and your family!

Amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

Sending well wishes to you and your family Joelle. <3

Unknown said...

Joelle, thinking of you and your family.... We are here. Holding you all up. Troy and I send our love and prayers. We love you all so very much <3