The wind of change is blowing and its cold right now ….
I got a call from my grandma to come see her yesterday. She has been battling stage 3B Cervical Cancer with clear cell sarcoma for a several months. These last couple of months she has been more in the hospital than out. The chemo and radiation has really taken its toll on her.
It all started towards the end of the last school year. She was living with us and had started getting sick, nothing specific, just not feeling well. She stayed in bed more, her arthritis ached, was sleeping a lot. I didn’t know she had been bleeding, until one day she told me that she needed to go to the hospital. This was memorial day weekend. All summer we waited for the paper work to be ready for the treatment to start, why it took so long we didn’t know at the time, and is honestly a story for another day. This post isn’t about that.
She moved out of our house early in the summer because she worried the effect she would have on my boys constantly seeing her sick and because the chaos that is our life was too much for her to handle now. She finally started chemo & radiation the second week of this school year. Its hasn’t been pretty,but I kept thinking that it would be over soon and life would go back to normal. And it will, but it will have to be a new normal, because things won’t be going back to the way they were before. She has been in and out of the hospital, on and off oxygen, fighting nausea and diarrhea, nose bleeds, incontinence . For her its been demoralizing and depressing, as I am sure that it would be for anyone going through this. But the thing is that I thought, we all did at one point, that this was a terrible price to pay, but it was temporary. The was a finite end in sight. I knew that there were risks, and chance of course, but I believed that her cancer was curable. I misunderstood. It was treatable, not curable, big difference.
So not knowing all of this yet, she called me up today and said she needed to talk to me. When I went over, she basically told me she was tired of being sick, nausea and all the other things that go along with treatment. She never wanted to see the inside of a hospital again. She has surrendered, I don’t want to say given up, or stopped fighting. She has fought, and she hasn’t given in, she has just put it in Gods hands now. She has lived her life trying to follow her understanding of his word. Now she is ready to let what ever happens happens. It’s about quality of life, not the quantity that she has left.
I wasn’t in total shock, but neither was I quite prepared. I didn’t understand a lot before today. I didn’t understand that as soon as treatment stopped the cancer would spread aggressively, or that it was inoperable because of the clear cell couldn’t be exposed to air. We caught it too late, from the beginning of our journey, it was only going to be a matter of time.
Right now my heart is breaking, my thoughts are racing and I don’t know what to do. All of our family is in agreement that we will respect her wishes, even if we don’t like or agree with them. We are struggling with how and when to tell the boys, and how to prepare for a future that won’t include her. I know in some ways we are fortunate to at least have this time to prepare mentally, but it’s still really hard. The women in my family have a long history of being healthy and living to an old old age. Heck my great grandma (her mother) is still relatively healthy and active at 95+ years if age. I had always pictured her standing at my kids graduations and weddings someday. It never really sunk in that she might not be there for that. I am still having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
Two things I hope for before her time comes, and right now we don’t even have a time table to grasp what that might be, one, I want to have a big family picture made of my family, my sister’s family, my father & step-mom Mamaw and maybe even my cousin & her son if we can. Two, I want to have a big family Thanksgiving feast together. I want to build these last few memories of her here, loved, with us. Something I can hold onto and my boys can hold on to after she gone.
John is taking the day off work, and we will all meet with the hospice nurses and see where we go from here.