Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fighting the Battle Again

My blogging has been sparse for the past couple of weeks. Sadly there is a reason behind that. Our family was turned upside down recently by the news that my mom's breast cancer is back after 9 years. The worry was always there, somewhere in the back of our minds, but we hoped that it would never materialize. It's hard to blog about normal things when all you can think about is the major event that is crowding your mind.

I delayed writing about it until now so that when I did write we would have most of the facts and an idea of what we were doing. So here is a summary of what is going on.

Mom has been in pain since December 2009. She came out to spend Christmas with us but ended up having to go home because she was in so much pain. After a few painful weeks the doctors figured out that the port on her Lap-Band had dropped out of place and was adhered to her stomach. They did the surgery to repair it and we looked forward to her feeling better.

But she didn't feel better. She continued to have pain that affected her work. She decided to get the Lap-Band removed since it was causing so much trouble. While they were taking it out they looked around a little but didn't see anything amiss.

Still, things didn't get better. She was able to work through the pain sometimes, but her appetite diminished and the pain kept her from sleeping. Eventually her breathing became labored. She had multiple ER visits, CT scans, an MRI, a bone scan, a mammogram, and blood work during this time. Nothing was found until the last CT showed some fluid in the lungs. She was referred to a pulmanologist and after some dancing with insurance, she was able to get a procedure that would extract the fluid from her lungs. When tested we found out that the fluid had breast cancer cells in it.

Last week Mom had a PET scan and then was admitted to the hospital for oxygen since the fluid had built back up. They immediately scheduled her for surgery in order to drain the fluid and preform a procedure that would prevent the build up of fluid again. Before the surgery the PET scan results came back. It showed cancer in the lymph nodes around her lungs, but no masses. We were excited. I mean, if we were going to deal with bad news, this wasn't the worst we could have, right? We could beat this!

But after the surgery the news came back that the cancer had spread throughout the lungs. They were tiny tumors- less than 2mm- but they were all over and in the lungs. That's how they had not been seen on the scans- they were too small. This news finalized a diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, since it had spread to another organ other than the breast. It was quite the roller coaster that day- first thinking that the cancer was still outside the lungs and then finding out that it was actually metastasized extensively.

Mom is still in the hospital now, and probably will be for the next few days at least. She started running a fever tonight, so she is being moved to a floor with more monitoring. Angela, Curtis, Stephen, and Brandon are trading off being with her, as well as many sisters from her ward who have sat with her for hours, like her own personal guardian angels. I am so grateful that she is surrounded by so many loving people when I cannot be there to care for her myself.

The good news is that there are treatments available. Mom's oncologist has already started her on hormone therapy which has shone a lot of success with breast cancer, AND it can be started before she recovers from surgery. Her doctor is very optimistic, and says that there's a chance Mom won't have to do chemotherapy. She hasn't even given us a "she has this long to live" number, which I see as a really good sign. So we have hope again. And we can fight this- and we will fight this- as long and as hard as it is necessary.

I plan to go out with the girls for a good part of the summer to help her out. The length of time depends on whether she needs the chemo or not. I'm excited to spend that time with her and to serve her the way that she has served me all my life. It's a small part of the repayment that I owe her and I'm happy to do it.

I would appreciate any and all prayers, happy thoughts, love, and good will, that you could spare for my mom. She's the strongest woman I know, but we all need all the help we can get in this life. I know that there is power in prayer- that our loving Heavenly Father is listening to us, and that He will send on our strength to her. Thank you to you all for your outpouring of love already. I have felt it in the last few days when I needed it most, and it means the world to me. Again, thank you all.


Jen said...

Wow, your mother is a real trooper. I'm so glad that she's getting the medical attention she needs and even more glad that you'll be able to be there with her for a part of this summer. She, as well as your family, will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Aleese and Scott said...

She seems like a really strong woman, and what a great opportunity to go be with her! Know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Destiny said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. We'll keep you all in our prayers.

Wendy said...

Whoa, so sorry to hear this news Shawna. I hope all goes well. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.