My mom – an update

As some of you read here, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer at the beginning of July. As I said then, the news was crushing. It still is. I still have no idea how to deal with this beast of a disease, and with the idea that my mom might only be around for 18 months or so. It totally and completely sucks. There really are no words.

Mom was very, very sick through the month of July. She had days where should really couldn’t walk more than a few feet. She had very severe pain throughout her entire body. She couldn’t sleep because of the pain, but wanted to do pretty much nothing but sleep. Medications to treat certain ailments caused crappy side effects, requiring more meds. It was a vicious cycle.

Her first chemo cycle ended up with her in the hospital for several days with an infection, pneumonia, and neutropenia. Her second cycle went better. She actually walked into the oncologist’s office in her normal clothes, with her hair done, make up on, and without my dad’s (or a wheelchair’s) assistance. The staff didn’t even know who she was! She felt so good that she was able to get out and do some shopping. She hadn’t been able to do that for about 6 weeks. Quite an improvement.

She had another spike in her fever after the second treatment, but the doctors were able to alter her medications enough to keep her out of the hospital. She was told that her hair would start to fall out soon after that, so she decided to shave it off. From my dad’s account, it was not a pleasant night. She’ll admit that too. She was bald.

After her third chemo treatment, she picked up two of her three wigs. She was so pleased with them that she wanted to stop in and show my grandma, who hadn’t seen her since she became ill. Then she had enough energy to stop by and show me. She was literally beaming. She loved them! I’ve seen her in two of the four wigs (she bought another one yesterday on a whim) and they both look fabulous. They make her look at least 10 years younger, which she loves. I’ve never known my mom to want her picture taken, but now she does. And now she smiles for them.

She had her fourth chemo treatment yesterday. Once again she was feeling pretty good going into it. She’s getting some of the “normal” chemo side effects now (nausea and fatigue), but can manage that pretty well with meds. She’s learned what to expect during each cycle, so she knows when her good and bad days will be (to a degree).

The outpouring of love she’s received has been amazing. My dad’s friends at work (Highmark) have been absolutely amazing. They’ve made and delivered tons of food plus collected money to set up food to be delivered to my parents over the coming months. People have sent mom care packages including crossword and other types of puzzles, chocolates (her fav) and other goodies. Lots of people have been sending her cards. She’s getting them from people she’s never met before, and she loves them. She showed me a basket of cards yesterday, and there must have been 50 of them.

So . . . that’s the update. I don’t have a cutesy way to wrap this one up.

Oh – but wait! I do have a picture of mom with one of her shorter wigs. That’s a good way to end this.

Mama's new 'do!
Mama’s new ‘do!
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