Focus On: Ann and Jack

It has been a challenging year for our family.  Thank goodness we have each other to rely on for support during difficult times.  I accompanied my mother to her appointment yesterday with her oncologist to find the results of her PET scan. Unfortunately, the news was not good. The 2.5cm lesion an earlier x-ray had picked up on her lung has proved to be malignant. They have chosen to continue the treatment of oral chemotherapy to address this. Due to the mouth sores she is experiencing after one week on the protocol, this will not prove to be an easy journey.  They have held the meds up until Friday to give her mouth a chance to recoup, and have scaled back the dosage 25%. She was just getting her appetite back when the sores made their sorry appearance. In 12 weeks she’ll have another CT or PET scan to determine if it’s shrinking or at least holding steady. If it has grown, then we revisit her choices.  The  doctor said at some point the drugs will stop working and she will have to balance quality of life versus the effects of a more aggressive treatment In the meantime the doctor told her to  enjoy her life and time with family. Go to her granddaughter’s wedding, do what she has always wanted to do.

We decided some parties were in order.. We are planning a Mother’s Day celebration, a bridal shower for granddaughter Jeanette, who will get married in June, and a  party for mom’s 90th birthday  (Shh! It’s a secret invitations forthcoming). Fatigue can be a problem so she may need to tailor down her activities somewhat

.But we intend to live in the moment, thankful for whatever length of time we are given to be together and enjoy each other’s company as much as we can. We welcome the chemo drugs, despite their side effects .as her soldiers of light, marching forward to conquer the enemy.

My mom has been so strong through all of this, but are any of us really ready to let go, give up the fight and our hold on life, however tenuous it is? I think at some point the body knows,and the mind agrees and one is at peace with their decision.

I think, through this whole process so far, this was the first time it really hit me, that we could lose her far sooner than we expected. She is handling it in her usual stoic manner.  She said she suspected all along there was something more than just the breast cancer.It’s amazing how our bodies seem to know, and communicate to us, when something is wrong inside. As with my Parkinson’s disease, my body knew months before my mind would accept what I. knew in my gut was happening.

While I was visiting we adjusted some things to make it easier for her to regain her independence. We moved everything she used regularly to lower shelves and cabinets; we moved canned goods, etc. to lower shelves in the pantry and her hutch. She can no longer reach high places as a result of the surgery. We cleaned out her closet so we could put in the new clothes I had bought her, as she has gone from a size 12 to a size 8 through this ordeal. I don’t know how long she will be able to stay in her house, but she knows she has a home with one of us when the time is right.

As we rearranged things, we were cleaning out extra stuff. I spied these two  mugs pictured here, which mom was going to discard.  IMG_0228I don’t know what is was about them, except that they reminded me of a time when there was an Ann and Jack (Jack and John have passed away) who had 4 children (John, Pat, Mary Lou and Steven) who lived together in a two-story house and had  a wonderful life together. A life they thought would last forever. But nothing lasts forever, and so we must enjoy every moment that we have…

For Ann And Jack

once we walked on sandy shores
and summer flowed through open doors
and childhood was all we knew
and you were all we needed

once we thought we’d never change
and life would always be the same
and we could not imagine
that one day you would be gone

lost in youthful innocence
we squandered precious time
and let slip by too many days,
which cannot be repeated

and now from shadows cast
we must  forge another path
and make the best of time
before clouds obscure the sun

we’ll celebrate each precious day
and we will remember fondly
when childhood was all we knew
and you were all we needed
                             -pc 2013  

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