Steady

So my mom is still at home and doing well. Well, as well as can be. The meds are keeping that tumor from swelling, but my mom is still moving and walking like a 90 year old woman (when she is only 65). It is what it is, but I know it is still a blow to her ego. My mom has always been this classy woman who exuded elegance. To go from that to some old lady who can barely walk in a matter of months is a blow. Even when she was in the hospital last, they said that we could wheel her (in the wheelchair) out of the room to get out, if we wanted. My mom’s first instinct was to not do it, as she didn’t want anyone to see her (even strangers) in the condition she was. I get it…most people would feel the same way too. I finally convinced her to get some different air than that same stale air she was getting being cooped up in that room. And she did feel better. But…thinking back…I get what she felt. It sucks when you know you can do and be some way….but your body isn’t letting you…fucking cancer isn’t letting you.

We visited her this past weekend like we usually do. She didn’t feel like going out, and my brothers were so great. I truly have the most caring and considerate brothers. They bought all these breakfast items, and made breakfast at home for everyone. Eggs, bacon, sausages, toast.

I’m a realist. I know what cancer does. I had a cousin die from it at 27. My mom got diagnosed Feb 2015 with cancer, and it’s been such a roller coaster ride. When she had her lung surgery Sept 2015, and they said the lung cancer was gone, we were elated. It was finally over! But now we are dealing with a tumor in her brain. We don’t have a confirmation that it is cancer, but they can’t test it with a biopsy in case it may trigger more spreading. Most likely it is cancer. And then there’s also a tumor now on her adrenal gland. I’m a realist. It’s not good. Sometimes I think in my head…what if my mom dies this year…how will I deal? But then it’s like my brain pushes that thought out of my mind. I can’t think of that. I don’t want to think of it. But then the realist in me comes back. There is SO much I want to tell my mom. How I love her so much, and I know how much she sacrificed in her life to make her kids’ better. How I wish I could have given her so much more. At an age when I should be taking care of my parents, I end up a single parent, and my parents are helping me out financially in the beginning. They helped me get back on track. Everyone pities me as they know me as a single parent and don’t know how I do it. They think I always have a tough life. But I don’t. I’ve found my balance in life, and I’m so good. And the thing that is a big part of my balance is that I have this amazing family, being my kids, my parents and my brothers. Family is everything.

Every once in a while I say stuff like this around my mom, but I don’t go further than that. If I spew all my feelings out, it’s like I’m admitting that she may die soon. And you don’t want hope to be gone. I don’t want my mom to lose hope. It saddens me as I know her immediate future is just going to be more rounds of radiation, and it will take more toll on her body. It just sucks. We have to wait for the results of the radiation treatment in her brain. If it didn’t work, then they have to do targeted radiation. And there’s still the issue of the adrenal gland to deal with.

After her chemo and radiation last year, she lost all her hair. She was a trouper. Her hair started growing back grey, but she kept it that way. And she looked so great in it. Everyone complimented her on how stylish she looked, and how she pulled it off. And to not dye it!

Well, after the last 5 treatments of radiation, they warned her that her hair may fall out again. Last Saturday she asked me to bring my shaver (I shave my son’s hair). Her hair was falling out and there were only strands, so she wanted to shave it clean again.

I hate you cancer.

 

Our Continuous Rollercoaster Ride

Not good news again. My cousin hosted a family party on the 25th. Now…my mom is used to her scheduled life at home. Piddling around slowly, and then napping when need be. Maybe getting out with my dad every so often. A party is a long day for her. The adults play mah jong, and the kids just hang out. It was sad too as my cousin’s baby was in the hospital. He was a preemie. Expected in December, but came in October. He was in NICU for a long time. I think he had only been home about 2-3 weeks when he must have caught something from his big brother. Turns out it ended up being RSV, and he wasn’t able to come home for christmas.

The family is my dad’s side, and although they know about the original lung cancer, my mom didn’t want them to know about all that recently happened. But she walks like a 90 year old woman now, so there’s no way they can’t figure something is wrong. So apparently she told them she fell, and is still recovering. Whatever she wishes.

It was hard watching my mom. Every time she got up, she needed my dad at her side. Whenever she went into the washroom, he stood outside waiting like a sentry. We were there at about 2:00pm, and I don’t think she left for home till about 7:30pm. A long day for her.

Well, the next day on the 26th (Sat), my dad calls my brothers in a panic again. Apparently she had heavy shaking again. My brother called the Cancer Society, but with it being the holidays, there was no one there. So he was directed to talk to the on-call doctor at Vancouver General. Of course this doctor has no clue about my mom’s history but what my brother could tell her. I was about to head out to do something with the kids, but got wind of this, so of course all plans changed. I left the kids at home and headed to my parents’ house. We ended up having to call the ambulance for my mom for them to take her to VGH. My brothers told me to head home to my kids, and there was no point in ALL of us waiting at VGH with mom, and that they would keep me updated. My brothers were at my mom’s after 8:00am. The ambulance came around 11:30am, and they took her to VGH. It was chaotic that day in the ER, and even with ambulance transport, it was hours before my mom could even get a room in the ER. One of my brothers ended up driving my dad home some time in between. My mom didn’t get put into an acute care room till about 10:30pm. My brothers didn’t get home till 11:00pm!

We don’t know what may have caused the tremors again. It most likely could be the after effects of the radiation. She had 3 treatments before she went to the ER again. Luckily I had taken this coming week off from work! Not exactly the vacation I anticipated, but it is what it is. So it becomes like a whole routine-thing again. Someone picks up my dad, and takes him to the hospital to visit my mom in the morning. They tend to like to be there at 9:00am. Visit with her till after lunch, which is around 1:30pm, and then take my dad home to rest. Then usually my brothers go in the evening to see her again. My mom likes the company.

I took on the morning shifts. My kids had no choice but to stay at home alone and fend for themselves till I came home at noon. Not much of a vacation for them either, but like I said, it is what it is. Tuesday mom had her 4th radiation treatment at 9:00am, so I had to pick up my dad in time so that we met my mom there at the Cancer Agency. My dad is so anxious all the time now. When my mom got wheeled there, she started tearing up when we approached her. Sometimes it’s awkward as I catch her staring at me. Like…deeply. Anyway, she did her treatment, and then we had to wait for the porter to bring her back to VGH. There is some kind of underground pathway to go from both places. The next day one of my brothers came with my dad and I for my mom’s last (5th) radiation treatment (for this series), as because she was to actually meet with the radiation oncologist.

Anyway, it’s been a very tiring time for us all. Won’t go into specifics. But my mom finally got discharged yesterday (Dec 31 – Thur). She cried when she found out she could go. I knew in her superstitious chinese mind that she didn’t want to be in the hospital going into the new year.

The tumor is still at bay and hasn’t grown. Apparently it’ll take about 2 months to see how the radiation worked. At that time, they’ll run more tests and see if targeted radiation is needed.

I don’t know. I’m a realist, and it’s just all sad. It’s not like once she does this radiation, that’s all that needs to be worried about. There’s also the cancer sitting there in her adrenal gland that needs to be addressed next.

She’s back home now. Day by day.

 

Battle On

Sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war.

So last night after work, the kids and I headed to my parent’s house to go out for dinner. My mom said it was Chinese Thanksgiving, and she really wanted to go out for a good meal. Plus with her starting radiation, who knows how her taste buds will be later on.

Of course when I got to their house, and I sat down on the couch, I anticipated that tears would come to her. And it did. She told me about the cancer that showed up on the adrenal gland. I didn’t tell her we knew about that already, but that I heard earlier from the brothers. And then she was crying about how she had such an easy life in the beginning, with a great husband, and that because it was so easy then….that God is now giving her challenges to face at the end. I straight out slapped her with reality. Now, we have never practiced a religion. My mom used to be a Roman Catholic, but my dad wasn’t any religion. So eventually she didn’t practice either. But…I still hold a place in my heart for God. I told her that God has nothing to do with her getting cancer. That cancer is the Devil. And that cancer is not fair, or why else would it have taken the life from our cousin, who passed away at 27 from it, when there was so much future ahead of him? I told her that she has much to be grateful about in her lifetime. That she has a husband who loves her unconditionally, and 3 kids & 2 grandchildren who are by her side. And that all this…all this love around her, was because she and my father BUILT it. They worked hard at it, and they made it happen. So don’t blame God for this, because you will need to lean on him now. During some of this conversation, my brothers arrived, and I could tell they were scared I had gone too far. But you know what…she needed to have me tell it like it is. Because I know deep down in my mom, that other than knowing we are all here for her, she needed to believe in more. I told her too…hey, if I died from some freak accident tomorrow (knock on wood), I would know I was OK, and that I lived my life. That I left knowing that I raised my kids with the right morals and ambition. And that I had the greatest support system with my parents and brothers. No regrets. She has to stop focusing on the “why”, and focus on the moments she has still. We don’t have any answers. We don’t know if this treatment will work. But maybe it will. Just live right now.

And I know it worked. She just seemed lighter afterwards. And we headed out to dinner. And seriously…I am such a poor single parent. But we are obviously spoiled by my parents and brothers. We’re taken to such great restaurants, and we are such food snobs. We know what tastes good. We went to one of the best Chinese restaurants, KIRIN.

(1) Lettuce wrap w/ duck meat. (1) Lobster in a milk sauce (2) Salt n Pepper Crab (4) Chicken in abalone sauce

Radiation Appt

So my brothers brought my mom to her appointment with her Radiation Oncologist today. Turns out Dr. Liu opened a slot for her, and that she got her first radiation treatment TODAY! Then her Medical Oncologist (Chemo) doctor, Dr. Ho, had a cancelled appointment, so she came down to see mom. It’s unbelievable how caring these two doctors are. Dr. Ho broke the news to my mom about having some cancer in one of her adrenal glands above her kidney. My brother said my mom was in shock, and then broke down in tears. But that Dr. Ho was so great, and pulled her in for a hug and just explained things a bit more.

My brothers said that my mom took the news better than they expected, but of course it was a lot for her to take in. Apparently they are going to do 5 days of radiation to the brain. It will be to the whole brain. Later on, they are going to do more scans, and see if it’s working. If it’s not, then they may do a targeted scan. The doctors had gone over the case with each other, and other doctors, and they have a plan. Apparently they have to do a test on the cancer cells from the lungs, and see if this new drug can fight the cancer. If it does, they can start on the treatment. She explained other treatments as well, but it was a lot to take in. I think my mom has to see Dr. Ho and Dr. Liu again in January.

Day by day.

Day By Day

So on Sunday, the kids and I went to visit my mom at Lions Gate Hospital around 2:30pm. My brothers had already taken my dad to see mom early in the morning. They are amazing. It’s so hard for me to sit at the hospital for long periods of time. I find that 2 hours is my max, and then I’m done for. My brothers and dad do like 8 hours in a row! I seriously don’t know how they do it. Obviously they push themselves to stay there to keep my mom company. If I was in the hospital, I would appreciate visits. But after a bit, I wouldn’t want to have someone sitting there while we all twiddled our thumbs. You can’t talk constantly the whole day. But my mom doesn’t seem to mind someone just sitting there, even though nothing is happening. She’ll even be watching her iPad as my dad is just sitting there.

Anyway, apparently when they got there, there were tears shed. As the reality of the situation probably hit my mom overnight as she was in the hospital. I think my mom put aside the possibility of death in her mind, as she was talking about wanting surgery if it was possible. Which is good. Good of her to be positive and see hope. My “brick” brother said that even he cried. He and I are so similar. I think I heave sobbed when I first got to bed…for about 30 seconds. I just can’t seem to cry at heavy stuff. My mom, on the meds, was like a complete different person than the one from the past 3 weeks. She was even able to get up and walk to the bathroom by herself!!! It’s amazing what drugs can do for you!

That morning when I woke up, I talked to my daughter. I’m always up front with them with life situations. I told her how her grandmother had a tumor in her brain, which was probably the cancer that crept up, and that the doctor said to prepare for the possibility that she could be gone. And of course she immediately burst into tears. My kids are so close to my parents. We visit them every week, and they have spoiled my kids so much in affection and everything else. I always remind my kids when they visit them to always appreciate every moment with their grandparents, as they are getting older & older. Don’t just say “hi” and rush to the computer room to play their games. Sit down on the couch. TALK with them. Let them ask you questions, and ask them how they’re doing. No regrets. And they truly are caring and amazing grandchildren. As with my son…I didn’t go into details. He’s having a bit of a personality conflict with his current teacher , so I don’t need him to inadvertently cause any more friction because of stressing out about his grandma. So he just knows she is in the hospital and sick.

My mom got put in a room in Palliative Care on the 7th floor. A room with 4 people. She always seems to luck out with the window bed. When she saw us, she immediately burst into tears and reached for hugs from my children. And she cries: “I’m so sorry!”. I’m like “What the heck are you  apologizing for??!” My way of being there for my mom is trying to keep her mind off things. I’m the crass, tell-it-like-it-is, ridiculous, embarrassing, silly one who tries to get you going. LOL. So I start talking about weird things that happen to my kids, stupid people I encounter, etc.

Apparently the results of the second CT Scan came back and the tumor looked like it was about 3cm, as opposed to the first one, which indicated 5-6cm. Dr. Gul said that it was probably due to the swelling that made it seem much bigger. We stayed for (guess it…) 2 hours, and then the kids and I headed home.

The next day (Monday), I had to go to work, and my kids to school. I told my immediate Supervisor what happened over the weekend, but requested that she not let anyone else at work know. Alot of my coworkers know my mom went through lung cancer, but at this point…this news…I don’t want people coming up to me asking about my mom all the time. I don’t need that right now.

My son was supposed to attend a casual wrestling tournament after school, but I already let his coach know he wouldn’t be able to make it. So I picked them from school and headed over to Lions Gate. When we got there, mom was on her iPad watching some show. She looked great and alert!

She had gone for an MRI in the morning, and they told her the results wouldn’t be in till the next day. However, they must have got the results as Dr. Gul apparently came by late mid-afternoon to tell them that he assessed the scan, and that surgery is not an option. That where the tumor is, it is too risky to operate on. 😦 This all happened before I got there, and was relayed to me by my brother. So of course the next question everyone wants to know is…is this thing going to keep growing? How long does she have if you don’t operate on it!!?? But as it always is with damn cancer….there never are immediate answers. You deal day by day. So they had a physical therapist come in and assess my mom to see if she is able to go home…and she was. The meds are working, and they were going to prescribe 2 weeks worth to start. And then the next step is to meet with our Radiation Oncologist, as most likely they will need to control the tumor with radiation.

Monday was actually the day that my mom had an appointment with the Medical (Chemo) Oncologist, Dr. Ho. My brother spoke with her over the phone and explained the whole situation. This doctor is so amazing. However, she didn’t have great news to relay to us either. She said that with a previous scan of my mom’s chest, they saw a 1cm mass in her adrenal gland, which (I believe) is near the kidney. So she was originally going to talk to my mom about that concern. But now that the hospitals sent her the head scans, then obviously the focus will now be on the bigger mass in her head for immediate action. (sigh) My brother told me not to even mention about the cancer in the adrenal gland to mom as it was already too much for her to process. So none of us has said anything about that to anyone other than us 4 adults (dad, bros and me). Eventually when she meets with the Radiation Oncologist, it will obviously be addressed. We’ll deal with it then.

The kids and I stayed from 4:00-6:15pm, and visited with her. I caught up alot on the info from my brother. They looked into buying 2 walkers for her, as the hospital said that they could actually release her that night. But my dad pushed for the next day. I know my dad is drained. He probably got the best sleep he’s had in a long time when my mom was in the hospital. He’s just on edge when he sleeps, as he’s scared she’s going to wake up, and try to move around by herself. I hope that when she DOES get home, that she realize that she is not at 100% yet, and that she needs to let my dad help her. And that day, they were there with her so early in the morning. I think they got there at 9:00am, and didn’t leave till just before 6:00pm. My bro apparently scared the crap out of my dad that morning. The previous day, they got hit with huge traffic taking the Second Narrows, and had to detour to Lions Gate. So my brother woke up ridiculously early and got to my dad’s house around 7:00am. SEVEN! So he realizes that my dad is not up yet, so he lets him sleep. Then 8:15am comes, and my brother is getting antsy, and he doesn’t want to deal with traffic. So he goes upstairs to my dad’s bedroom, and shakes his shoulder, and just about gave my dad a heart attack!!! I was like: “The guy thinks he’s home alone! I’d have a heart attack TOO!!!”

What I have learned about cancer is that nothing is definite. You have no other choice but to take things day by day.

Devastated

This is not a happy post.

So for the past 3-4 weeks, something has been wrong with my mom. Ever since her cancer surgery, she is much slower. That was anticipated. She always been a slow walker, but now it’s ever more so. But about 3 weeks ago, she fell off her bed. We can’t seem to get a direct answer out of her on what happened. No idea where she was sitting up. But my mom has a tall bed, so when she is sitting on the edge of the bed, her legs dangle. Anyway, she fell off. My dad heard and rushed to help her. And then she fell why taking a shower. My brother is always the person who acts fast, and immediately went out to buy some bar at Home Depot to put her in tub so that she had something to hold on to. Apparently she went to the doctor, and things seemed fine. We were stumped. But we chalked it down to post-surgery, and the fact that she hasn’t even done any remote exercising for the past year. We thought maybe her muscles and blood flow were weak. We told her to get dad to take her to the doctor to check further. The thing is that my brothers and I have to work, and this past year has been so crazy, so it’s not easy for us to take a day off to bring her. We had taken so much time off already this past year.

Then things just got progressively worse. My dad pretty much had to help her with any task. She would want to cook, but the thing was the strength in her legs was just not there. Then she started walking even MORE slowly…almost dragging her left leg as she went along. Her mind and thought process was fine. We kept telling her to go to the doctor, and she kept resisting. Then she fell again in the laundry room, and my dad finally forced her to go to the ER. The doctor didn’t get any tech tests done, but just asked her questions, and made her walk for them. And apparently she walked FINE then, and was sent home. We were just all perplexed. How in the heck did in a week’s time…did she lose the majority of her strength in her legs? We took her to the food court one weekend, and it scared the shit out of us. She literally could not walk without a person on each side helping her. Her equilibrium was off, and it was like she couldn’t help but lean forward as she walked. We already noticed this as my dad had been helping her down the stairs every time, as it seemed like she would fall forward. Anyway, at one point she was holding my dad’s hand, but behind him. Then her head fell forward on his shoulders, and it looked like his weight was the only thing keeping her up. I rushed over to her other side and grabbed her back upright. I thought she fainted, but she was alert. We walked down the mall a bit, but she was slow, and it seemed like she was dragging her left leg even more. I noticed people kept staring over at us, and realized it was because it almost looked like we were dealing with a special needs person. My mom looks fine, but her body was walking like a special needs person. I kept telling my brother that wasn’t right. And I started googling. Maybe it’s a balance disorder? Was it MS (multiple sclerosis)? My friend’s mom had that too. But usually losing mobility took time with that disease. It seemed that with my mom, it was happening at an accelerated pace!

My brothers said they took her out to eat this past Thursday. They had to sit in a booth. My mom went in first, and she could only get so far, so my dad was literally sitting on the edge of the booth seat. At one point, she just started leaning to her left and luckily my dad was there or she probably would have fell to her side.

On Friday my dad apparently had a break down with my brother. He was just so tired. He has been a superstar and doing absolutely everything around the house. Cleaning, laundry, cooking (although highly monitored by mom on the side – haha), etc. But he was getting stressed out more from what he called “hide and seek”. Because of our stubborn mom still thinking she could do things by herself, and would sneakily try to go somewhere, or do something quietly without my dad knowing. And then something would happen, and then he would have to physically lift her up from where she fell. She is probably at 90 lbs now, but that is still alot of weight for someone to lift. She was too weak to help stand up even.

The kids and I went to my parents’ house on Saturday. We always get there around 9:30am, and my parents are usually awake. We noticed a mattress on the floor in the living room. I guess after my dad’s breakdown to my bro on Friday, they decided to move a mattress downstairs so that my dad didn’t always have to help my mom upstairs. I guess getting her up and down was getting harder. However, she convinced my dad the previous night to help her upstairs to sleep. The thing with her mobility is that it is bad….but there are OK days, although mostly there are bad days. Apparently she even walked around Granville Island on Wednesday without help! Which was shocking when we heard it, as every time we’ve seen her, she had needed supporting.  So the previous night, she was having an OK day, so she convinced my dad to bring her upstairs that night. But of course my dad gets a restless sleep as he’s just always scared she’s going to try to get up herself, and God forbid, go down the stairs herself.

Anyway, when we got to their house Saturday morning, my mom and dad were upstairs. I could finally hear them coming down, and I ran over to the stairs. I was in shock. Within a week, she got even worse! My dad was pretty much supporting most of her weight coming down. He had one arm at her back, and one arm somewhat in front of her just in case she fell forwards. My dad didn’t want me to help, so I grabbed her bathrobe from the chair, which she usually likes to put on when she gets down. When she finally got down the stairs, she started trying to take her vest off…and my dad barked at her to just wait, and to do things one at a time. That the first step was to get her to the chair in the living room first. And will she just LISTEN to him?!! Now…I have NEVER EVER heard my dad ever use a sharp voice with my mom. EVER! She was always his queen. He has never raised his voice at her. So I kind of stood there dumbfounded that my dad just barked at my mom. But he’s been dealing with this 24/7, so he knows what is the best thing for her. We finally got her to the chair, put her in her bathrobe, and sat her down in the chair. My dad then charged to the kitchen, and got her a cup of warm water. And then he started zooming around in the kitchen, so I went up to him and asked if there was anything I could do. He started getting flustered, and told me that he got it, and that he has the morning routine down pat, and to just let him do it. So I did.

Usually we take my parents out to eat, but there was no way my mom could walk. Today was a really bad day. My brothers arrived, and we just visited with my mom at home. At one point, she had to go to the washroom, so my dad, me and my brother helped her along the way. I mean…I pretty much had to help hold her up. She was that weak. She went to the washroom, and then later she wanted to brush her teeth. She was holding the glass mug in her left hand and she couldn’t even lift it. I had to lift it for her. 😦

The kids and I left around 2:30pm and ran some errands. I picked up some BBQ duck from this store for dinner later on.

My awesome brothers found out that my Playstation (which was given to me by them) was not working. They had just upgraded to a Playstation 4, so they had given me their old Playstation 3. I am clueless with setting up crap like that, but I finally figured it out and was so happy. Plus now I could watch NETFLIX on my TV again! So I texted to thank them around 4:30pm. One of my brothers texted back that they didn’t want to alarm me, but that they just called an ambulance to my parents’ house. Shortly after my brothers left, they got picked up by my cousin to head to watch the UFC McGregor vs Aldo match. I think they were at the pub when my dad called in a panic. I guess my mom was laying down on the mattress in the living room when all of a sudden she could not stop shaking, and said that she couldn’t feel anything. So my cousin had to drive my brothers back to their house to get their car, and they rushed to my parents’ house. My dad had already called the ambulance. So my brother told me that they were there, still waiting for the ambulance. And that I didn’t have to come down, and that they would update me when they got to the hospital.

Thank God that my kids are older and so responsible. I just put rice on the cooker and told them to get their own dinner. Luckily I had bought that duck previously. Then I headed to Richmond Hospital. I got there before my mom got there. So I was there when the ambulance crept in. I guess they had to get all the paperwork done at the house once they got my mom settled. We were lucky and my mom was pretty much wheeled to a bed in the ER.

Was it a stroke!?!?! Why didn’t we clue in to that! Maybe she had a mini stroke earlier on and never knew it. Then it would make sense why she lost alot of function on her left side so suddenly! Earlier on when my dad, brother and I were helping her back onto her chair, she exclaimed that we all stunk. And we were like “Huh?!” And she claimed that we all stunk like garlic. Which we cracked up a bit as we all started smelling ourselves. I was like: “But all I had today was Tim Hortons broccoli soup and coffee. Is it my coffee breath?!” And you know what they say…that when you’re about to have a stroke, you smell weird things.

My mom is in Room 10, and we take turns checking in on her 2 at a time. They don’t like it getting too crowded with people. They ended up taking her for a CT scan at one point. We waited till she got it done and got wheeled back. Shortly, a nurse comes to where we were all sitting at the front area and tells us that the doctor would like to speak to all the family members. So the 4 of us are standing by the bed, and he tells us he doesn’t have good news, and that the results of the CT scan shows that there is a 5cm tumor in her brain. Now…whenever my mom starts hearing diagnoses of her medical situation, she kind of automatically tunes out and only understands a part of it. It’s like she doesn’t process the information, or doesn’t want to hear it. He tells us it’s most likely the cancer crept up there, and that he’s so sorry. That it was probably what was causing the swelling in her brain, which caused her mobility issues. And that they were going to give her some steroid medication to alleviate the swelling in her brain. He told us that within the next half hour, they were going to transfer her to Lions Gate Hospital (as there was no rooms available at VGH). And that they were going to set her up over there, run some more tests, and monitor her. Then he awkwardly just stands over her for a long while, staring into her eyes, giving her the “I hate to give you this bad news” stare. Awkward. He finally steps out of the partition, and my brothers and I surround him to ask him more questions. He basically said that he’s seen cases like this, and that it’s a pretty big mass, and that the reality is that we should prepare for the worst.

So it’s about maybe 9:00pm now. And so my brothers said that I should drive home, park my car, and that they would pick me up along the way to Lions Gate. My dad went in the ambulance with mom. As I drove home, my eyes teared up a bit. Like I said, when it comes down to serious life challenges, I can’t cry. The doctor didn’t get any tears from our family. My mom was not processing the info. My dad, one of my brothers & I are like bricks. My other brother did step out, and I know he probably cried outside.

Anyway, I got home first. I ran in to tell my kids that their grandmother was being transferred to a different hospital ,and that they had to put themselves to bed. By the time we got to Lions Gate, my mom was already in a bed in the ER. We just sit with her and waited till the neurosurgeon came to talk to her. Dr. Gul finally came, and he was very straight-laced and asked her a series of questions. He said the CT scan showed the mass to be about 5-6 cm, but that they were going to do another CT scan at their hospital. That the MRI would probably not be able to be done till Monday.

Her shaking had completely subsided, and she seemed to have a bit more strength in her legs. This was all due to the medication. We all sat with her a bit, and probably left the hospital around 10:30pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gong Show

Okay, my plan to keep a somewhat “fluid” blog is going to the crapper! Haha. I am just too ridiculously busy after work with all my kids’ sports activities. By the time I get home, feed them…I barely have any time to relax, much less blog!

This morning was a GONG SHOW! I don’t live in the cachement area of my kids’ schools. So we have to get up earlier than usual. I basically drop my son off around 7:20am to his daycare, then head to pick up my daughter’s friend, and then drop them off at their school around 7:30am. Then I head in to work. This morning, I was planning on dropping my daughter off to school, and then heading to an 8:00am appointment with the doctor, as my son was getting his stitches taken out. About under 2 weeks ago, his class was at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. When the show finished, as my son got up, his finger got stuck in the seat. When he rose, the recliner seat popped up, which pulled over his finger, and he got a nasty gash (which required 3 stitches).

Well, my alarm went off at 5:45am, and I pressed the snooze. Then I get a call from my daughter’s friend at 7:30am. WTF!!!!! Holy sh%$! I slept through the alarm big time! I should already be at work now! So I’m freaking out, and I’m telling her that we ALL just woke up, and that she may have to walk to school. She’s like “That’s OK, I’ll wait”. I’m like: “No, we ALL just woke up and I have to get C to his doctor appointment, which is at 8. So I can’t drop M off to school. She’s going to end up being late as I have to now take her to the appointment!” And there’s this big pause, and I’m like “Hello?” And she’s like: “It’s OK, I can wait.” OMG…seriously? Anyway, I told her I had to get off the phone and get ready, and told her “You have to walk to school. I can’t pick you up!” BUT…thank god she phoned us or we would have really been screwed!

So I get to the washroom. My hair is a mess. Now…chinese hair is naturally oily. So it can get greasy easily. At least with me. So I usually have to wash my hair every morning or it’s a grease-fest. I didn’t even have time to look in the mirror! So I just tore the brush through my hair and put it up in a bun….ugh…in a greasy bun! You can imagine me screaming at my kids: “Just get CHANGED IN YOUR CLOTHES!!!! We gotta GOOOOOO!” No time to “put on my face”. No time to pack any lunches. We just dressed, grabbed our bags and ran out the door. THEN I remembered that my daughter had to return her volleyball jersey today, or else they may cash in my $50.00 deposit cheque. So then my daughter and I tore back in the house, and of course she can’t find it! Dang! Well, what can you do. Next day, I guess. We drove right to the doctor’s and made it at 8am. We’re up there, and no one is there. Seriously. The doctor ended up walking in at 8:25am all flustered. I guess her receptionist had a family emergency last night, and therefore they had no receptionist that morning. BUT my doctor is always great. It’s just the waiting time that is frustrating. My son got his stitches out. We killed two birds with one stone, and also got our flu shots.

Then I had to drive my daughter to school (pretty good, only about 15 minutes late) and handed her $10.00 to buy lunch. Then I had to stop by Subway to buy the boy a footlong since there is no cafeteria in his school. He was late, but just by 5 minutes or so. Crazy morning.

Cancer Survivor

So I have great news! My mom is now officially a lung cancer survivor. I know how lucky we are to catch it, and our surgeon John Yee was just incredible!

I had decided to take my kids out of school on the day of my mother’s surgery. I’m glad that I did, as my dad told me later that when my mom walked into the hospital and saw my kids there, she was so happy. She was to check in at Admitting at VGH at 5:30am. The kids and I got there first, and it was quite an eye-opener to see all these people come in with their family/friends to also check in to Admitting. Everyone just looked anxious.

So my mom checked in at 5:30 , and then was instructed to go to Preoperative to check in. They gave her a piece of paper that said her surgery would happen from 8:25 – 10:25. Then she was told to wait till they called her in.

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It was all kind of a blur. It was so crazy in there as all the people who checked in to Admitting were then sent here. So the little waiting room was getting quite crowded. And of course there were a lot of senior citizens, and we definitely wanted them to be able to sit. So my brothers and I just kind of loitered outside the room. They called my mom’s name, and so I kind of moseyed over there as I wanted to be able to say bye to her before the surgery. All of a sudden they ask who was that one person that my mom was going to take in with her, and my mom and dad say that I am! Then the nurse tells my mom to go into the Pre-Op room, and I think mom was just in the zone, and wanting to get on with it. So she walked right through the doors, and I just looked all over wondering what the heck was going on, but just followed her in. Apparently my brothers were outside the waiting room, and when they found out mom had gone in already, one of them freaked out as he didn’t even get a chance to hug her or say anything! My other brother said he had a fit about it. LOL. I didn’t even get a chance to tell my kids I was going to go in with her! It just all happened so fast. There was no discussion prior that she wanted me in there, and we all assumed it would be my dad. So I was like “Huh? What?!!! OK.” and just followed her in. Ah, a mom wants her daughter. Plus you know me….I’m stone cold no-crying, so I guess she needs someone who is emotional like a rock. Hahaha. She didn’t cry in there. Just teared up sometimes worrying about what to expect. She was worried about the epidural, and I told her it was nothing, and that they would just lean you forward, and there would be a prick in the back and she wouldn’t feel any pain.

We were in this pre-op room from like 5:45 to 8:30am! We had to get her gowned. Then we had to wait for the nurse to run through things, and go through the medications that mom had taken. Then the lady who does the nasal colonization came. My mom would kill me if she knew I posted this, but it is the greatest picture ever!

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So what a nasal colonization does is lower the risk of infection after surgery. The lady said they have done extensive studies on it. First she uses a swab and puts this blue dye in your nostrils. Then they put these two mini hoses (yeah, no medical terms will be coming from me) into each nostril with a laser. You do this twice. During the time when mom had the laser being done, I was on the phone texting my bros. And the lady goes: “Oh, you can take a picture if you want!” and I’m like: “Oh no….that’s OK.” I mean, it seemed kind of wrong to take pictures of my mom while she is about to go in for surgery! It didn’t seem like the right etiquette. But then I saw my mom with that red nose, and I was like: “Well, yeah…may be I will.” My mom just shook her head at me, and she probably rolled her eyes behind those glasses. LOL. I texted the picture to my brothers, and I think it made them feel better. Apparently they showed my dad, and they were just having a chuckle over it.

During this cancer “journey”, I confided to one of my coworkers, who’s mom had passed from bone cancer. Actually, she ended up getting different types of cancer. And I remember her telling me to make sure to take pictures of my mom in the hospital. I remember at the time thinking that was weird. I mean, what patient wants to have their picture taken when they are dealing with life or death? But, she was right. I had taken a pic on my mom, with no hair, when she did chemo. And throughout her recovery in the hospital, I took pictures of her. And I’m glad I did. We were the lucky ones. We can look back at these pics and remember what my mom fought, battled and won.

Anyway, back to pre-op…then the nurse came to put in IV, and told us that we would then get visited by the anesthesiologist, then the surgeon. A student anesthesiologist came by first. Mom said that she met Mihaila already at the pre-op meeting before the surgery. You could tell Mihaila was a bit nervous. She was like: “So you checked in this morning to the hospital?” We just kind of smiled and nodded, but I was thinking “What the? She’s right in front of you. YAH…she checked into the hospital this morning!” Hahahaha. Don’t get me wrong, I think all these medical students are just AMAZING. I know I couldn’t do what they do. All I know is that Mihaila made my mom feel calmer about things, so to me, she is a star! Then 2 residents for the surgeon came in to check on stuff. Men…not too comforting. Although the surgeon himself is super-comforting. I guess the residents have some learning to do. Then Dr. Durkin (the anesthesiologist) came, and he was great! Completely knowledgable, and answered questions, and was so calm. But I find that all the anesthesiologists I’ve dealt with have been great, confident about their abilities, and always make you feel a bit better. Apparently things start slow for the day on Wednesdays as this is the day where they have staff and operational meetings at the hospital. So mom didn’t get wheeled into the operation room till 8:30. Throughout that whole waiting period, I made sure to text my brothers and to keep them updated about what was going on in there. The nurse told me that the medical team (nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons) would have to do a pre-op session for about an hour before the surgery, so we knew my mom’s surgery probably wouldn’t start till 9:30am.

So I left the Preoperative rooms, met with the rest of my family, and we waited in the Critical Care Room till we heard from the doctor. The Critical Care room is just outside of the cafeteria. The door is always closed, so it’s very quiet in there. Everyone in there is waiting for a loved one to get out, so it seems that silence is appropriate. She was supposed to be done about 10:35, but we knew she probably wouldn’t get done till 11:30am. When it got to 12:00, I was getting a bit antsy. We kept checking back at the Preoperative area, as right behind the secretary are two TV monitors. It displays all the surgeries happening throughout the day, and shows the surgeons’ names. If there is a red bar underneath it, it meant the surgery was still happening. I noticed that Dr. Yee had two surgeries scheduled after my mom, with one being at 11:00. Found out later that he had to cancel the two of them.

My dad got a call from Dr. Yee after 12:00pm. Then Dr. Yee came into the Critical Care room to give us the update that it was all good, and everything went smoothly. They took off one lobe of her left lung. We were worried that it may have had to have been the whole lung, but it didn’t have to come down to that. ​The cancerous mass is out. Of course she will need more tests and some monitoring.

We were all so relieved and happy. But I caught a glimpse of all the other people in the CC room, and I felt bad that they still had to wait. It’s such an agonizing time. I prayed that all their surgeries went well. One set had a family member getting a FOUR hour surgery!

Anyway, if my mom had her whole lung taken out, she would have had to stay in the PACU overnight. But since it was just one lobe, she was only there for 3-4 hours. Only 2 people were allowed in to see her for a very quick visit. So they ended up allowing us to go in 2-person shifts. She was groggy, but totally with it.

We all ended up heading home and grabbing a bite to eat, before we headed back to see her in the evening. She was going to be moved into the Step-down unit. When we visited her, I was shocked at how alert and great she looked. My mother is this little 94 lbs being, and you assume that her body would just not be able to take all this shit being done to it! But that freaking woman…she’s tough. Her body is tough.

So she ended up being in the hospital only 6 days (Wed – Mon). Incredible. She is at home now, recuperating.

It’s just been so crazy. Even when she was at the hospital, it was visiting with her almost every day. One of my brothers took time off, so he was always driving my dad to see her twice a day. One time they stayed from 10:00 – 5:00pm. I don’t know how they did it. It was a very tiring week for everybody. Even now…now that it’s all over…I’m still tired.We all are! I feel like we’re still on the rollercoaster ride. I’ve been getting these weird headaches. They’re like these little shots of pain. Almost like lightning. Like someone stabs you with a knife and takes it right out; and then the pain is gone. I got all hypochondriac thinking I may have brain cancer. I mean…I am a walking cancer waiting to happen with all the genetic history. I’m like “Oh fucking great.” But I googled it and I think it may be this thing called an “icepick headache”. I mean, I have had migraines, but never something like this. My coworker thinks it’s just my body reacting to all the stress I’ve been going through dealing with my mom’s cancer diagnosis. Now that it’s over, maybe I’m getting these headaches. Ugh. Another coworker said she got the same thing before too, and in the same areas. So I feel better that I don’t have brain cancer. Like I said…all hypochondriac!

How Do You Deal With Cancer?

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Today September 11, 2015 (Friday) was supposed to be the day of my mom’s lung cancer surgery. My mom has been scared shitless for the past month, just anticipating the surgery. Last Wednesday, she received a call from the surgeon’s office that they had to delay her surgery till September 16 (Wed) because the surgeon had to do an emergency double lung transplant. I know that we’re all lives that matter, but it still sucks. My mom has been so scared, just literally counting down the days till her surgery. And then to find out that she gets to deal with even more days of stress and anxiety. It sucks. And I know it happens to cancer (or any other surgery) patients all the time…and it just really sucks for everyone. My dad has had many surgeries (cancer, prostate), and we were also there for my paternal grandma’s surgeries. I remember a while back my mom commenting how she doesn’t understand why they get all worked up right before surgery, which only elevates their blood pressure and all. But…now she gets it. Surgery is a scary thing! And her’s is not going to be a simple one either. They’re going to be cutting half her left lung.

Anyway, what can you do. I guess the only thing is to find a bright side, which is that it’s only a few days away from the original date. And…maybe it’s a better date. I mean, when I heard the surgery was on 9-11, I kind of did a pause, you know? We’re just going to try our best to keep her spirits up, and her mind off of always thinking about the surgery. Get real…she’s going to think about it all the time. You can’t help it. But we can try to distract her at times, right?

My mom is a very emotional person. She cries alot, and she worries alot. She “deals” by wearing her emotions on her sleeve. I’m the complete opposite (like my dad). I do not cry easily. Especially when I’m going through something bad & big. Like when my relationship ended with my ex…I was saddened, but didn’t cry much. Well, not about the ex. Haha. I felt I was throwing my parents’ and brothers’ lives into a tailspin as they were so involved with helping me ease into my new life. I felt guilt, so I cried that my relationship was doing that. And I cried the most when I moved in with my brother temporarily (just 6 months). He lost his bachelor life, and space. And he was not used to kids, and I felt so guilty about it. Then I felt guilty for yelling at my kids so much. I cried alot to myself then. My brother even cried (and he never cries) as then he felt guilty for making me feel guilty! LOL. Whenever I’m dealing with something negative in my life, I don’t “feel”…I get almost business-like, like some inner thing in me saying “Look, let’s look at the facts. What is the next step.” To me, crying does not help matters. It won’t fix things. Crying does nothing for me to make me feel better. One of my best friends laugh at me, as she says that I won’t cry about my own life miseries (when they are some…rarely), but then I’ll bawl my eyes out watching some other fake person’s drama on the TV or movies. And it’s true!!!! One time I was sympathizing with Kate (from that show “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” – the ones who had twins, and then quadruplets). This was around the time that Jon was leaving her and cheating on her with teenagers. And I remember saying to my friend “Oh, poor Kate. Can you imagine having to be the responsible one with that many kids?” And my wonderful BFF yells at me “What’s wrong with you??!? The woman is a millionaire. If you should feel sorry for anyone, you should feel sorry for yourself! You’re poor and get no money from the idiot!!!” Hahaha. I’m Simon Cowell, and I pick Simon Cowells to be my best friends too. It was around the time that I first separated.

It has been a steep learning curve dealing with my mom’s cancer diagnosis. Look, I’m not the one with cancer. I don’t know how it feels. I’m not going to pretend like I do. I’m the support. I talked to a friend who had breast cancer and dealt with chemo treatments for a whole year! And I asked her what was the thing she hated most that people said to her. And she told me that she HATED whenever people said “You’ll be fine”. Just hated it. I brought it up with my mom, and she agreed. She hated it too. “You’ll be fine.” “Eat this, as it’s supposed to help.” “Don’t think about it.” But as my mom said, she gets it. What else are people supposed to say to you? “Holy hon, hope you don’t get 6 months only”? So we kind of laughed about it.

I don’t get emotional. I just don’t. But this past year has been hard. For my mom of course. But I’ve realized that it’s hard also for the support teams (family, friends). I would always be my mom’s support. But you’re always learning, and cancer is always throwing curve balls at you. We thought my mom would want to discuss the cancer, but she didn’t. And it would make her feel more emotional in a negative way. So then you don’t bring it up. But then there’s a day where it seems like she wants you to talk to her about it, so you bring it up. And then sometimes it goes good, and sometimes it goes bad. All you want to do is keep her spirits up. But she’s going through the rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s like you’re just hanging onto the outside of the car, trying to keep up with the hills & the dips of the ride. You need to stay in the car to be her support and make her feel better, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like you helped. And my dad. Just amazing. Just as my mom was for my dad when he went for his surgeries. My dad. I guess my mom would wake up and just want to give up. Every day. Why bother. Every day he had to lift her spirits up in the morning to get her to her radiation and chemo treatments. Every day for 6 weeks. Well, Mon- Fri. He had to figure out the rollercoaster too. Lean in to the rolls at the right times. Sometimes I would feel bad as when my mom would start crying, I couldn’t join in and cry with her. Like I said, something inside me just won’t let me cry. It’s like when I deal with serious situations that happen with the people I love most in my life…I get hard, which is my way of helping, and being strong. I’ll sit over and hug her, but I can’t cry. My mom knows that. I’m like this, and so is one of my brothers. I actually did get emotional sometimes as I wanted so much to make my mom feel better, and I would actually cry on the phone with that brother. I was frustrated with my mom at times when she went through periods where she didn’t care, and it seemed like she gave up. And my brother lectured me to take it with a grain of salt. That mom is just going through the ups & downs, and she’ll be fine. Like I told my BFF, it was like every once in a while, it was good to talk to my bro…as it was like he gave me a good hard slap in the face with some words. So that was my amount of crying, but somewhere deep down I felt like I had to get stuff out. Something was pent up inside me. This was also around the time when I was super-stressed out with my new position and working tons of overtime. And I was always so curt with my kids, and kind of rude sometimes. And my kids are SO incredibly amazing as they “got it”…they understood that I was stressed out with everything, and when I snapped at them, they didn’t take it personally. They knew. My BFF suggested that I had to find some sappy movie to watch as I had to get the tears out. And the “movie of that moment” was something called “The Fault In Our Stars“. It was about 2 teenagers who were both dying from cancer. Uh…yeah. Why the fuck did I choose a cancer movie? But it was just something that was on Netflix that I knew was emotional. I watched it, and I BAWLED my fucking eyes out!!! And I felt better and it gave me a renewed strength to go at it again. To be a strong support for my mom. Like I said…I’m fucked up. I can’t cry with my own real-life stuff. I have to watch some movie to get the release of tears out.

Emotions eased a bit once my mom started chemo and radiation. She became very positive. It was so wonderful to see. But now she’s stressed out again anticipating the surgery. My stomach is in knots again as (of course) I’m worried about her, and I don’t want her stressing out. And go figure that I watched “The Bucket List” tonight, which is about two old men dealing with cancer!!! OMG. And yes, I bawled my eyes out, and I probably needed it.

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I had taken a picture of this on my phone. It was written on a board in an elevator in the hospital as we were heading to mom’s radiation/chemo treatment.

Everyone be strong. 🙂

Abandonment Issues?

Tonight I was watching “X Factor UK”, and there was this guy name Josh who sang this song called “Jealous” by Labrinth. He made Simon Cowell CRY!!! Apparently when Josh sang the song, he said that it reminds him of the loss of his best friend, who died at age 18 in a car crash. (BTW: Simon cried because his mother had just passed away a few days prior to this audition).

I was going to post it on my FB feed, but then I realized that I couldn’t. As my mom may interpret it about death, as this was the direction it was being interpreted on this show. And I do not want her thinking about that. She is scared shitless about her impending surgery, and I need positivity to radiate around her.

This song actually came out a year prior in the UK. The original artist says that the lyrics are addressed to one of Labrinth’s parents, who left the family when he was four years old. Speaking about the lyrical content of the song, Labrinth has offered the following explanation: “A lot of people have been through that experience. It’s kind of written from the perspective of how my family felt at the time, but I wanted to write it so anyone could dig into the song and relate to it to their own situation.”

“Jealous”

I’m jealous of the rain
That falls upon your skin
It’s closer than my hands have been
I’m jealous of the rain
I’m jealous of the wind
That ripples through your clothes
It’s closer than your shadow
Oh, I’m jealous of the wind, cause[Chorus:]
I wished you the best of
All this world could give
And I told you when you left me
There’s nothing to forgive
But I always thought you’d come back, tell me all you found was
Heartbreak and misery
It’s hard for me to say, I’m jealous of the way
You’re happy without me

I’m jealous of the nights
That I don’t spend with you
I’m wondering who you lay next to
Oh, I’m jealous of the nights
I’m jealous of the love
Love that was in here
Gone for someone else to share
Oh, I’m jealous of the love, cause

[Chorus]

As I sink in the sand
Watch you slip through my hands
Oh, as I die here another day
Cause all I do is cry behind this smile

[Chorus]

It’s hard for me to say, I’m jealous of the way
You’re happy without me

Now, as I’ve said before, I seriously don’t give a shit about the ex. I don’t care if he is happy, sad, dating someone else, whatever…the only emotion I feel is anger that he doesn’t pay any child support. But I DO worry about my kids having abandonment issues. My son was only 1.5 when he left, so he holds no memories of the ex. Nothing to tie him emotionally to him. The only thing is not having a father figure in his life. But…he has ALOT of men in his life in the way of his grandfather. uncles (my brothers and my cousins), coaches, friends’ dads. He does not lack for good & solid male role models. I used to worry about my daughter, who was 5, when the ex left. She was pretty close to her dad. But you know that saying “time heals all wounds”? That seriously is the case. Which is sad for the ex. As he means nothing to the kids now. The only thing they may regret is (like I said) the lack of a father figure. But really…I’ve been mom and DAD for my kids. I watch my daughter now, and she is so me. She LIVES life. She enjoys it. She doesn’t dwell of the “what ifs”.

In the beginning, I used to worry so much about if he tried to get back in the kids’ lives. I mean, how can I say “no”. Even though I want to smack him senseless, I would not stop it. It is my kids’ rights. But he severely screwed himself. It’s been 8 years. He is literally a stranger to them, and in all honesty, I don’t believe they even THINK about him at all. Who’s to say whether or not they may want to meet him as adults, for “closure” of whatever. But I honestly don’t think so. They even refer to him as “Joel” if he ever comes up in conversation. Not “dad”. As he’s not one.

Anyway, it was just interesting finding out that the lyrics of that song was actually in that direction.