Saturday, June 7, 2008

June 7th

June 7th is a hard day for me. Last year on this day, for the second time in my life, I had to listen as one of my parents told me that they had been diagnosed with cancer ... and that it was terminal.

I was 9 when my dad was diagnosed. His odds weren't bad - a 75% chance of survival.......He was one of the 25%.

On June 7, 2007, my mom went in for an MRI because she had a funny feeling in her rib - like someone poked her. The doctor thought it may be uterine cancer. She went up to Northside and then back home to Sharpsburg after. She and I chatted about whether the scanners gave any signs after the test and we laughed about how we always try to read what they are saying by the look in their eyes. I was at my office in Buckhead working when about an hour later, my mom called me crying.

When we got off the phone she was still crying. I then immediately went on to research uterin cancer. Stage 4 seemed pretty bad, but there were still some treatment options and decent statitics.

I received a call about an hour and a half later from my step dad asking me to come home. I asked "is it bad?" and he said "yes." As I left my Buckhead office and started home, I kept praying that it not be any stage uterine cancer, but stage 4.

Traffic was so bad that day that I literally pulled up to my mom and stepdad driving home from Atlanta. I was on the phone with my sister and said "oh no, I am next to mom and she isn't talking - they are just staring straight ahead." We decided that I should try calling them. I did and my mom got on the phone, looked over and waived. I asked if she would tell me and she said no, that she wanted to wait till we got home.

My sister headed over and we all met at the house, including Mike and Harrison. My mom was fine when she arrived - had not even gotten upset yet. Then, Harrison said "Nanni" and ran to hug her and she broke down crying. The diagnosis was pancreatic cancer - stage 4 with metastases to the liver. She was given a 1% chance of living 12-48 months.......She was part of the other 99%.

Throughout her treatment she tried to stay optimistic and left the terrible research and talks with the oncologist about clinical trials to me. When I asked her why she was not verbally more optimistic (she was very guarded about her optimism) she said "Daddy had a 75% chance to live and didn't make it - how am I going to make it with a 1% chance of living - AND, that 1% chance is still fatal in a 5 year span?"

It was a question none of us could answer.

We thought we knew a lot about cancer. After my dad died of cancer, my mom work at Emory's cancer clinic for children and the Ronald McDonald House. Cancer was a part of my life in some way, shape or form from age 9. My mom's mom and 2 of my mom's sisters have breast cancer. I feel like I can understand and grasp certain realities of cancer.

I may not like it, but I can understand that my dad fell into the bad statistics, that my grandma fell into the bad statistics, and that mom died of cancer.

What I cannot understand and will not understand is why a cancer exists, such as pancreatic cancer, where the victims have 0% chance of remission and recovery. I can't understand why my mom and other pancreatic cancer victims really have no real statistics. How can this be with today's medical advances and technology? Why are we letting this happen and why are doctors not fighting for more research funds? Why are we not demanding that insurance companies pay for annual body scans if pancreatic cancer is so deadly and has no warning signs?

I guess my feeling is that I can accept defeat, but not when a person is not given the opportunity to fight.
My mom knew it as soon as the words were said to her and I knew it the moment that she said the words to me. We would fight a good fight, but we were going to lose and lose fast.
I know that I posted this picture on Wednesday for Wordless Wednesday, but I wanted to post it again on this entry. I am sure that you can guess, but it was part of the Savannah roll of film that I found. My mom and I were sitting next to each other behind the stack of beach chairs watching Harrison play and I took a picture of our feet to show our cute flops and pedicures.

1 comment:

Sue said...

So sorry that this day is filled with difficult memories. Definitely a reminder to hug our loved ones each day!

Very cool you found the film of your trip w/ your mom! And I love that they are in b+w!!

Very beautiful quilt fabric! Very thoughtful neighbors - you are lucky!