It’s Cancer

On Friday the results of Mom’s second biopsy came back and confirmed the worst – that Mom had lung cancer – specifically, small cell lung cancer – a particularly nasty form of cancer that spreads unpredictably and fast.

They immediately scheduled a deep body scan to see how far it has spread while Mom agreed to undergo Chemotherapy which started on Saturday, just in case there was a chance to get ahead of this thing.

I should be hearing from her oncologist today about the results of the deep body scan. Mom told me the results were good on Sunday, that the cancer has not spread past her left lung. But what that actually means I don’t know until I speak with him.

Mom is in this place mentally that is hard to comprehend – she’s both clear headed and serene. In her own words she’s “ready to fight, because I have to – but if God is ready to take me – I’m am ready to go”. And I believe her.

Maybe she just isn’t facing the reality of this so far.

Maybe she’s just ready to die.

Or maybe her belief in what-will-be-will-be is stronger than I had ever imagined.

I hope I’ve picked some of that up from her. My core belief that you have no control of the hand you are dealt – and that it’s best not to to get caught up in the contents of that hand – how fair the cards are – or how often you’ve been given a set of cards that have low odds of success – because you do have control over how you play your hand. It’s how you play your hand, no matter how good or bad, that counts.

At least that’s what I tell myself when times are good.

Right now I don’t feel that way at all.

And I’m afraid that she might be playing ‘strong’ for me and Dante’s benefit.

Yesterday I told her that if she is, she should stop. That we can handle this together. She swore she wasn’t. I tried to discern the truth, but her eyes have such a child like innocence about them (an innocence that makes NO SENSE in the face of what she’s seen in her life) that I couldn’t.

Following the deep body scan results and talk with the oncologist will come difficult discussions.

My Mom *Might* Have Cancer

My Mom has had a few bouts of ICU worthy pneumonia over the past year. Last week she felt some chest pain, thinking it was a possible heart attack she went to the emergency room.

Turns out they found two large masses in her left lung and her lymph nodes are swollen. The doctors gave me an 85% chance that it’s cancer and in an advanced state. Her first bronchial biopsy was inconclusive so they are proceeding with a second today and then another test if necessary. So far her symptoms are no different than those she’s been experiencing with her COPD for the last few years.

She’s in amazing spirits. She’s 74 and has seen much hardship in her life. Recently she told me that these past few years have been her best. I’m proud of her.

I’m not doing so well. But that’s to be expected I guess. There’s still a chance that this is nothing more than a bad infection. A false positive. But the doctors seem to think that’s not likely.

I’m always trying to look for the bright side of things, that sliver of light down the tunnel, and there are a few – Emma has grown into an awesome toddler, she’s almost two! My herniated disk hasn’t troubled me as much since my last injection (over a week now of decreased pain). is rolling along, the feedback has been great. And Richelle has been supportive dealing with it all.

I know this is just part of the cycle of life. I can rationalize it a million ways. I know on an intellectual level I’m not alone. Especially with two brothers. But still, it’s hard not to be sad that a small dream of mine, that Emma get to really know Mom, is looking less and less likely. And when Mom goes, so goes the last of our ancestors. A door closes on our roots and our own origins. I hope I’ve been a good son.

Still nutso busy

When it rains it pours.

My mom has been back in the hospital, with pneumonia, and has just left another scary stint in ICU. She’s doing better, but still is not out of the woods. Along with that, Richelle has been sick with a stomach thing that’s been bugging her, work is still going 200%, and there was some must-do tasks to take care of with Philly Future. With all this going on I missed blogphiladelphia and a friend’s party I really wanted to make it too 🙁

Whadda week.

Blakeley Cooper: “You can never lose hope”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Art Carey: Credit to Mom, mentors:

…The fire that incinerated the North Philadelphia rowhouse had begun in the basement, probably ignited by someone cooking crack. The house was inhabited at the time by Blakeley’s father, a man who had climbed high and fallen fast.

“My mother was very blunt,” Cooper remembers. “She said, ‘This is what drugs will do to you. You want to throw your life away? This is the end result.’ “

Cooper, then 5, was so impressed he made a vow: “I will be better than my father.”

In the years that followed, it became his mantra, especially in times of stress and discouragement. “It became the sole motivating force in all I did,” Cooper says.

Today, Cooper, 30, is a senior information technology engineer at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Frazer, Chester County. His job is to devise code that enables computer systems to talk to each other. In night school at Wharton, he’s taking business courses and he plans to pursue an MBA.

But it could all have turned out so differently.

“I grew up on the same streets where murders have occurred,” he says. “But I was able to steer clear of that because I had people who had my best interests at heart and were willing to show me another way.”

How Cooper traveled from where he came from to where he is now is a testament to his innate drive and motivation, to that amalgam of traits and values we call “character.” But, as Cooper readily admits, he benefited also from family – in his case, a determined and dedicated single mother, and a civic-minded elderly couple who mentored and supported him.

A powerful story.

Mom successfully weaned from intubation tube

At around 6:30 tonight they removed the tube and mom was breathing regularly under her own strength. It was scary along the way, with fears growing that it wouldn’t be possible.

I’ve been at the hospital the past few days, leaving Richelle alone to take care of Emma, who has a cold (snot everywhere!) which I’ve caught. So none of us have been sleeping well.

It was great to hear my mom’s gravely voice say to me, “see you tomorrow”, with a smile and a happy tear in her eye, when it was time for me to head home.

“Being a mom could be a 6-figure job” got some deserved buzz last week for their report on the valuation of mother’s work. According to the report, the work a stay at home mom would be valued at, if earning a paycheck, could be well into six figures.

Give their salary wizard a try. It says the median paycheck that Richelle would earn in our area is $143,754. If that seems high to you, then you have no idea the hard, complex, or challenging, the work a stay at home mom performs, day in and day out.

Here’s the thing – though it’s nice to see some hard dollars and cents as a way to recognize what stay at home moms do, there seems something sad that’s wizard got so much coverage. In a real way it continues to confirm just how much we take them for granted. In the end, there is no way I could put a price tag on what Richelle does. Even though I am a full partner here, priceless wouldn’t be an adequate word to describe it. And single mom’s like my mom? I have no idea, no idea, how they do it.

I don’t think there are many men that think this way anymore, but if you’re a “man” with a wife who works her ass off all day and you don’t contribute at home, not only are you missing out, you deserve your ass kicked. And if you’re a man, who like me, may help but sometimes doesn’t say thanks enough, well just keep in mind that Mother’s day should be every day.

Some progress

The amount of fluid in mom’s chest has gone down a bit so her doctor has considered against doing a Thoracentesis. During both my and Dante’s last visits mom was smiling at times, even laughing (and then coughing) at our attempts to cheer her up. Mom has a terrific sense of humor. I don’t know where mine is – but her’s is very healthy! She confirmed with Dante that what she really wants right now is a coffee. Being awake, she was really upset when I had to leave – it was tough to go home. No progress so far in removing the tube. I will have another update from her doctor today before visiting.