It is stage 3 or 4 Pancreatic Cancer. Not operable, currently, because it has a strangle hold on all those blood vessels that feed all the organs in that area. They can't completely stage it until they figure out if the masses in her liver are cancer or cysts, but they do know that when Pancreatic Cancer spreads it goes directly to the liver then moves on from there. She can choose chemo or choose to not fight. If in 4 months the chemo is making the tumor smaller than they will continue, if not they will do what they can to make her comfortable until the end.
The words were just so clinically put, so sterile. I know that a doctor isn't required to be personal with patients and I bet they do this death sentence stuff all the time. But it feels like it should be different, this is my mum. She wasn't supposed to get a life sentence, she was supposed to get stage 1, maybe stage 2...not stage 3 or 4. I wanted her to be operable. I wanted her to be quick, painless and over in a few months and back to herself.
I wanted it so bad, I wished and hoped for it every day. I set my alarm for 4:30 p.m. each day so I would have a moment of silence at the time when she first told me she had the mass- 4:30 on Wednesday July 25th, 21 days after my 36th birthday. I've not even had a chance to celebrate my birthday with her yet.
You start to review all the thoughts you have had when you have been wishing for her safe return. I accidentally thought "I want her to die," when what I meant was "I don't want her to die". The thought made me jump out of my chair, I never meant to say "I want her to die", I just was so exhausted my mind was jumbling thoughts together...and one wrong thought that I never meant fell into my mind. And I sit there as he tells us her diagnosis and think, I hope it wasn't that one wrong thought. I don't believe in prayer or fate or any ability that the mind can change the way the world really is. I do believe in positive thought, but I don't believe there is someone up there changing the world to suit my prayers because I prayed to the right person...but for that moment, that silly moment I thought...this is my fault.
She decided to take the chemo option. She has decided to fight. On that, I knew she would. She said she wouldn't go without a fight, not last time and not this time.
They told her that after 4 months of chemo they will check to see if the tumor is responding. They will try to shrink the tumor with chemo until it is operable or at least manageable or until she decides she can't do it anymore. Through her tears she said "So, I get to live my life in 4 month increments?"
I have to believe she will live. I have to hold on to that thing line of hope that the chemo will work, it will shrink it and she will get a few more years. But I wonder how we will convince her. From diagnosis until her death, mum nursed her mother through her pancreatic cancer. She has lost more family members to pancreatic cancer than to any other illness and that was on both sides of her family. She has seen how bad it is and she is scared. How do you tell her that this is not like that?
And how do you tell her that she will live, when for the last two weeks you have been burrying her? Each night in your mind, she is dead and you are living on without her. Because each night you try to fathom a life without her. And it isn't a pretty picture.