So I talked to my mom last night. Lung cancer. Well, the haematologist oncologist couldn’t tell her 100% for sure due to guidelines or legalities or something until they biopsy, but my mom said that basically it’s cancer. The doctor just couldn’t say it. Even though he did say it.
Dialing it back to Friday, mom was feeling like she had pretty bad indigestion. By Saturday morning it felt like severe indigestion. Dad took her to emergency where they did 20 heart tests or so, because mom was sure it was her heart, and they took a CAT Scan. By Saturday night, a medical resident told my mom she had lung cancer and 1 to 7 years to live. I got the news early Sunday morning and that’s when I fell apart. By late Sunday afternoon mom was home and the hospital was doing a bit of back-peddling because residents don’t tell patients they have lung cancer based on a CAT Scan. So, I pocketed my emotions and we all waited until yesterday when she had a second scan and met with the cancer doctor.
Like the resident, he couldn’t say for sure, but he does this for a living. He said the mass, based on its visual characteristics, looks like a cancerous mass. I’m guessing he knows what he’s talking about. I work with kids who have or have had cancer. I attend clinics and watch and listen as the doctors sit around a table and put brain scans up on the screen, and talk about how a tumour is behaving and what type it likely is just on appearance.
Lung cancer. When I write it, it sounds so heavy. A death sentence. We just lost my uncle to lung cancer last May, five months after diagnosis. That should put things into perspective I guess. His symptoms were a little different though. Maybe that changes the playing field?
All I know is that when I talked to my mom last night, we could have been talking about a news item like the Alberta oil sands. My mom was so matter of fact about things, but not in a denial type of way. She talked about being eighty and having had a good life. She said this gives her time to prepare and that at least she has the benefit of knowing when she might expect her life to wind down. She said she plans to ramp up her second book of memoirs, the first being published about three years ago. She said she wants to say to each of us all the things she wants to say and get things in order.
Most of all, she said she has her faith. I think she’s almost excited about going to meet her maker. Almost as excited as she is about hitting the casino this weekend in Niagara Falls. Yep, when presented with the opportunity, my mom’s a geriatric gambler, fond of the casino atmosphere and the slot machines. Not even a cancer diagnosis is going to throw a coveted trip to Niagara off the rails. When she’s at those machines, I can guarantee she won’t be thinking one iota about lung cancer. She’ll be thinking about the big win.
I’m sure things will become more dire once my mom begins treatment. I think things will get very real, very quickly. For now, I’m following my mom’s cue and calmly thinking about those numbers spinning on the one arm bandit, acknowledging that we all die and we never really know when our number might be up.