For a few months now, my mom has been having some health issues. I'll spare the many details, but it started with a dizzy/fainting spell that had Dad calling 911, and has ended up with two blood transfusions for extremely low hemoglobin levels, every possible test in the medical books, and the discovery of a mass in Mom's lower intestines and/or colon.
And yes, the mass is malignant.
It was a week-and-a-half ago we found out the mass was likely malignant. It was a Saturday, and Mom called from the hospital (she'd been admitted for a transfusion). She was crying. I started crying. She sent Dad home so he could process it in his own way and I visited her for a couple hours that afternoon. That was the gut-punch day.
But since then, no tears. The biopsy confirmed it a few days later and since then, we've been calm, collected, and ready to fight.
In a message to Mom on Facebook, I talked about putting our "fightin' pants" on--a sort of mix-up of "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it" and "fighting spirit," I guess. That Saturday was a very emotional day. Still, I've run with the term.
Yesterday was Mom's birthday.
Part of my gift to her was a banner I made. "These are your fightin' pants," I told her. Of course, she loves it. Even Dad loves it, and helped me put it up over the fireplace. "We'll keep it there," he said to me later. And they will take it to the hospital, too. Though Mom hasn't yet seen her oncologist (she will this coming Monday), we're fairly certain that surgery is in the near future.
She also got some Silly Putty (for times of anxiety) and Superwoman socks to keep her feet warm. When I visited her the last time, it was freezing in there. And I gave her a book by an author we both like. I bought another book by him, and when we each finish, we'll swap.
You might notice that I've avoided using the c-word. I have avoided it as much as possible since this whole saga began. Part of that is, perhaps, denial, and my own anxiety at play. But part of it is a stubborn refusal to let the c-word completely take over our lives. Of course, we are all going to be fighting this with Mom, and watching her battle it. But all of us refuse to let it be a 100% downer. We are choosing, instead, to face the challenge head-on, with dignity and our collective sense of humor intact. It's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be fun. But whatever Dad and I can do to lift Mom up when she's feeling her worst, we will do.
We still don't know what the exact course of treatment is going to be. We believe surgery, as soon as possible, because no one wants to leave a malignant mass in there to grow. We figure there might be some chemo, and we'll deal with that should it come. We are hopeful that it's as early as we think it is.
A few days ago, Mom was talking to one of her friends on the phone, and giving her the details of what is going on. Dad later told me, while laughing, that Mom said, "...and I'm pissed!" With that kind of attitude, we can pull up our fightin' pants and deal with what's ahead.