Hello, bloggie people. It has been a good while. Our lives have been turned completely upside down and it is taking a while to get adjusted.
As I said in the last post, the surgery was cancelled because the cancer has grown too quickly and was too close to some areas the surgeons didn't want to mess with. At the time of the surgery, the cancer still had not been typed and the doctors did not know exactly what they were dealing with.
On Monday, 4/21, I received a call from the chemo oncologist at Nashville. She wanted to see Mom in her office on Tuesday morning instead of sending her to the oncologist in Knoxville. So again, we made another trip to Nashville and another visit to Vanderbilt Hospital. The oncologist felt that Mom needed to start chemo as soon as possible so she was admitted to the hospital to start chemo that evening. In the meantime, the ENT, who first saw Mom, came by to do another biopsy. Apparently, the tissue he had been getting was from a part of the tumor that was not living so he did an incision above her right eye to get viable cells for pathology. We waited and waited for those results. In the meantime, Mom had another PET scan which found spots in her chest, lungs and bones. Finally on Wednesday night, we found out the tumor was melanoma and that the best course of action to treat it was radiation. Last Wednesday night, an MRI was done which luckily showed no metastasis into her brain. On Thursday morning, she was taken down to see the radiation oncologist who explained what would be done. They wanted to start the radiation that night and it would continue for 5 days then stop for 2. She would have six weeks of this.
Mom decided she didn't want to start the radiation in Nashville. She has become weaker with each trip we make and she was afraid if they started the radiation, she wouldn't be able to make the trip home. She decided to come home to be with her family and do the radiation at the local Cancer Center. So late Thursday afternoon, my sister came back to Nashville and brought us home. Normally the trip takes between 3 and 4 hours, but Thursday it took 5 hours. There was a lot of traffic and there were several places where road construction was a problem.
On Friday morning, 4/25, we saw the radiation oncologist here at home and he explained that this is was best option for slowing down the tumor. This is the only way to, hopefully, stop it from invading her left eye and breaking through the skin around her right eye. They did the radiation mask and got the markers set on Friday and told us they would call with her first appointment the next week. In the meantime, we saw a chemo oncologist to get Mom started on chemo to help the radiation.
Mom started radiation yesterday, 4/27, and will have 10 treatments on the next couple of weeks. We are still waiting to get the chemo drug which will be in pill form. The treatments are suppose to last 15 minutes but the first one was 30 or 35 minutes. She said they had to do more ex rays and more markers before they could start the treatment. Apparently, this is a lot like having an MRI and Mom is claustrophobic so she had a problem. She was agitated when she came back so I gave her a sedative when we got back home and she went to bed. I told my aunt that we needed to give her the sedative before the treatment from now on and that's what she and my sister did today. It helped and Mom was able to eat and stay up after the treatment. Hopefully, she will start feeling better and be able to stay up longer.
Mom is on hospice care. We started that this week also. We all know that the end is coming and none of the treatments she is having are for cure. They are palliative, or pain management, only. We don't know how much longer Mom has to be with us but she is at home where she wanted to be and we are spending time with her as she can tolerate it. She isn't talking much but she does love having everyone close. My son brought his 3 children up last weekend to visit. She hadn't seen them since Christmas. Abby is bringing James in this weekend.
It has been really difficult this week to watch my active, vibrant Mom withdraw from us. She has always loved being with people and would be the last one to leave if she was having a good time (which she almost always did). She loved talking and traveling. She has been able to travel quite a bit. She's been in 45 states of the United States, including Hawaii. She has been on a cruise, done line dancing, and worked at Dollywood (an amusement park in the Smokies). She has done anything she has set her mind to and enjoyed her life as well as anyone could possibly have done. She has always had a ready smile and enjoyed a good joke. Seeing her not talking or not watching TV (which she so enjoyed) has been really hard. I'm not ready for this. I haven't had all the time I want with her yet.
I may not been back here for a while. I need to concentrate on Mom and spend as much time as I can with her. Thank you, everyone, for all your words of encouragement and love. Please continue to remember us as we go through this difficult time.