Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A quick update on my mom

A few weeks back my mom called me, and when I asked what was up she happily replied with,


All I could do was stare at the kitchen counter and verbalize my confusion. Because HOW. It's not like I was out of touch with her or anything; I would talk to her and hear the fatigue in her voice on a regular basis. She always sounded so beat down (just like my dad did), and would give me updates about where she was at with her treatment plan(s). One of my cousins even called me to say that my mom was starting to look sick thanks to very sudden weight loss. So, again, HOW.

Well. It turns out that her Stage 4 breast cancer was separate from what was actually Stage 1 lung cancer. The doctor(s) labelled her as Stage 4 when they mistakenly thought what was in her breast and lymph nodes metastasized further into her lung. The mastectomy took care of what was in her breast and lymph nodes (Stage 3), which left the little bit inside of her lung to be taken care of -- which it was via the non-invasive procedure I briefly mentioned the last time I wrote about her sickness.

Did that come out right? Because writing is hard.

tl;dr instead of one mega cancer she had two different cancers at the same time (one of which was worse than the other).

She is still undergoing chemotherapy (had her first round today) to make sure that all of the cancerous cells are eradicated; I don't remember how long she'll have to do it though. Nevertheless, it looks like she'll be sticking around longer than anyone previously thought, so yay for that~ 


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

One year later

Exactly one year ago, I got an expected (but nonetheless devastating) series of phone calls, each one giving me progressively worse news until I was told that my father finally passed away peacefully, with my mother by his side.

Many things came to light in the wake of my father's death; secrets and lies that changed everyone's perception and left us all with questions that will never be answered. I always knew that he was dodgy at times, but the mess he left behind left me with a degree of resentment that will probably never go away. If I could talk to him I would say something like, "WHAT THE FUCK?!" before tearing into him.

(I'd also ask for his plantain recipe.)

Nevertheless, the fact remains that my dad is gone, and has been for a full 365 days: I didn't have to call him for Father's Day, or his birthday, and I didn't hear from him on mine. I can't bring myself to delete his number from my phone, and I have three voicemails that are incredibly trippy to listen to, as they go from healthy to a little under the weather to terminal in the span of a couple of minutes depending on the order in which they're listened to.

And, yet, adjusting to the new family dynamic hasn't been terribly difficult for me. I knew what was going to happen and I prepared for it early on. I'm actually really, really used to my dad's absence, even if I am being slightly weird and introspective today.

On the flip side, I wasn't really prepared for the slew of unknowns that came out after the fact. But there's nothing I can do except wonder about those goddamn plantains.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


My mother and I have never had the best relationship: she is bitchy, overbearing, and bipolar (legitimately) as fuck. She has a superiority complex, and if you did something, she did it better. Or more extreme or whatever. Did you cut your finger and need stitches? Well, she cut off her entire hand and had it sewed back on! These are only a few of her more undesirable traits; to list them all would come across as an excessive laundry list of "she sucks" that could get out of hand really fast. Either way, our personalities clash like whoa, so we've never quite gotten along all that well. But as horrible as she was growing up, she still loves me, and will do what she can to help out whenever possible. She will periodically send a care package, and we talk regularly. She traveled cross-country to see both girls when they were born, and again to help me out around the house after I had my tubal. So, she's not the most likable person out there, but as my dad used to say, "her heart is in the right place."

With that being said, my mom is dying. She was diagnosed with breast cancer just last month, after a mysterious blockage and infection sent one of her milk ducts into a tizzy. (I was actually the first person she called to talk to about it. My reaction was A) "why the fuck are you calling ME about this?!" and B) "OMG GO TO THE DOCTOR!") She had surgery to remove the duct, but a biopsy was performed on the problematic tissues, and that led to the discovery of two types of cancer lurking around, with one being more aggressive than the other. She was labelled as Stage 2 and told she would need a total mastectomy, and possibly chemo or radiation.

Flash forward to now. 

My mother has been officially labelled as Stage 3. 

She had the mastectomy almost two weeks ago, but the surgeon(s) discovered the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes while they were in there, so those were taken out as well. However, it turns out the cancer has also spread to one of her lungs. From what I understand it's very, very small, but it's there, and probably getting bigger as I type this. The next step, once she gets her drainage tubes taken out (eww...) is definitely some chemo and radiation. However, she isn't sure if she wants to put herself through that; she was musing about cannabis oil as a less arduous alternative.

As one might imagine, this is a very strange and alarming turn of events for me. I just lost my dad last June, and that's still a pretty fresh wound. (Fun fact: my dad and I would usually talk shit about my mom for saying or doing something that was either fucked up or ridiculous.) So, for my mom, whom I have had some really, really bad times with, to fall ill like this is just amazing in all of the worst ways possible. I didn't think I would have to deal with yet another death so soon, but now I need to mentally prepare myself to be able to cope. Yeah, my mom and I aren't exactly on the same wavelength when it comes to pretty much anything, but -- as clich├ęd as it is -- she's still my mom, and losing her will be a pretty damn big blow to the family. If, or when, she goes, I will be left with an estranged "brother" and another phone number I will never have to dial again. And it looks like this is going to happen sooner rather than later. 

Once again, I have to remind myself (and possibly others) that I am not being a pessimist -- I am being a realist.

UPDATE - 05/14

My mom was "upgraded" to Stage 4, and the doctors are going to try what they can to remove the cancer by a non-invasive procedure with... Idek. Something. From there they'll do chemo. Unfortunately, my mother's surgery site became infected a couple of weeks back, landing her in the hospital for a minute. They can't do anything until the infection is completely gone, so now all we can do is wait.