Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Waiting Game

Still waiting for test results for Mom. At this point, the best thing we're hoping for is temporary paralysis caused by swelling, which would hopefully go away over time with steroids.

I know she's scared spitless. It seems unfair, because we were aware that paralysis was a possible side effect of the radio cyberknife sugery, but we're so far past when we were told side effects could occur that we all thought Mom was in the clear.

The irony is that Mom has never been afraid of dying, but she's terrified of being dependent on people. She actually quit smoking before we knew she had lung cancer. Her first doctor misdiagnosed her brain tumor symptoms as TIA, and warned her if she continued smoking she would have a stroke and end up in a wheelchair the rest of her life. She didn't even smoke another cigarette after that appointment; she quit cold turkey. She's always thought it's unfair people assumed she quit because of lung cancer.

Guess that's just another fun fact of life: people seem to get whatever they're afraid of. My paternal Grandmother was always terrified of having a stroke because she'd seen her own mother have one; of course in her last few months she had one. And although many of you reading about my family are desperately wishing a loved one with cancer won't die, that's not what Mom wanted. She wanted to live only on her terms, with all her faculties and capabilities intact for her age.

Sometimes I think about my good friend (he was in the comic strip referring us to the brain doctor at impressive university) and marvel that we've maintained our friendship after all we've been through. His mother died thirteen months ago, and mine is still alive but often not very happy about the fact. We talk often, and though he insists it's okay, I feel guilty complaining to him about Mom's constant pain or my caregiving responsibilities eating away my life. He's the only one other than Mom and Nurse Sis who understands how hard Nurse Sis and I have worked and sacrificed to try to give Mom a happy, fruitful time after remission, and how hard it's been to fail.

She's always wanted to publish a book and go to Europe, and though I've tried to push for these things Mom hasn't been well enough, and probably never will be. She's had another year on this planet to watch Oprah and blog and move back to LA, but I don't know if these things are enough for her to be happy with her bonus time. Big Sis and I have been too exhausted to date, so it's not like Mom got to see us get married or have a baby, even though technically there was time for it and I supposed we could have grabbed up some unfortunate males and brought them into our messy lives.

I wonder sometimes if the situation had been reversed and my Mom had died, if I would be a strong enough person to still be a part of my friend's life and watch him spend time with his Mom. He's told me he would give up ten years of his life to have one more day with his best friend. And of course his Mom was a saint who did a lot of good in the community and never smoked or did anything healthwise to "deserve" cancer.

Cancer is so complicated. It tests your spirituality, your morality, your friendships, your family. Ultimately, I've come to believe that it's madness to try to impose any meaning on who lives or dies, and whether who lived deserves it or is even cognizant or healthy enough to be happy they're alive. It's all relative. I guess all that matters is I've been grateful for the time.

No comments: