Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You can always find *something* positive ... even if it's just laughing at your sister

So, not to beat around the bush, but last month my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But saying it that way ... BREAST CANCER ... sounds all dramatic and somber and theatrical, and really .... it's not. It was caught extremely early. With a proper treatment plan the survival rate is something like 99.8%, and truthfully, none of us are too freaked out about it.

In fact, my mom is more annoyed than anything because we are leaving on our cruise in a few weeks and she's already informed her doctor that "she doesn't have time for this crap, thank you very much, so just do what you need to do and let's get it over with."

My sister and I have been her support people the past month or so during her visits with surgeons, radiologists, and oncologists. We've sat with her for ultrasounds and cat scans and MRIs and needle biopsies. I now know way more than I ever planned with regard to lumpectomies vs mastectomies, stages, grades, balloon radiation vs beam radiation, estrogen receptor positive vs negative ... et. al. I also know more than I ever intended about sinus cancer and pediatric leukemia, which is really starting to give me a complex because what is the common denominator here???? ME. I'm beginning to think I am this family's lucky fucking charm, is all, and being related to me is perhaps not such a good thing for the other members in this family.

But this isn't about me. It's about my mother and how she's doing.

She's doing fine, thank you for asking.

She had her surgery yesterday and things went smoothly. Except for the fact she is a total lightweight apparently allergic to Lortab and threw up her heels for hours afterwards, despite taking anti-nausea meds, which actually provided some comedic relief, because I had NO IDEA my sister was a vomit-phobe who would run screaming from the recovery room anytime my mother started to retch. And I would totally make fun of her for it. (My sister, for running. Not my mom.)

Naturally, *I* am the one who wound up rubbing her back while she puked and spending the night with her while she continued puking and then rinsing out the disposable vomit bag because even though the nurses gave her several bags, they were really cool disposable vomit bags and once we were back at her house and she was down to her last one she was all, "you should rinse this out in case I need it again" and I was all "that's ok mom I can just get you a bowl" and she was all "no, no, because this way is easy and not as gross, you should just rinse it out" and I thought to myself "yeah it's not as gross to you because you're not the one rinsing it out in the sink."

It was gross.

Kidding, mom. I love you and it wasn't that gross!

(Ok, it totally was, but I don't to make her feel bad about it.)

I am also the one charged with changing her dressing every day until radiation starts and while we've never been an exceptionally shy and private family, I have also never seen my mother's breasts as many times in my LIFE as I have the past two days.

But that's ok, too. I figure as many diaper changes as she gave me when I was born it's probably only fair I help her out now and not protest the nudity.


Sorry. I got sidetracked there .... still giggling at my sister practically knocking a nurse over trying to get out of the room when my mom was throwing up. Considering she has four boys under the age of 13, you'd think she'd be a little stronger-stomached when it comes to bodily fluids like blood or barf, but no.

Of course, she got her chance to laugh at me when I carried a borrowed chair into the empty recovery room next to my mom's, only to discover it wasn't empty and I basically walked in on a fat naked man eating a popsicle.

Sorry about that, sir.

So anyway, what's my point?

My mom is doing well. She didn't want me to tell anyone about her diagnosis because she didn't want any attention. She only let me tell about it now because the surgery is over, and enough of her close friends know about it that she no longer feels it's a secret.

And the REASON I choose to tell you is twofold:

1) To thank you in advance for keeping Grandma Betty in your thoughts during her upcoming radiation, and

2) Typical PSA disclaimer like I always throw in: Please remember to get your annual mammogram. You. Just. Never. Know.


Marie said...

Sorry to hear about your mom. I do not think you are the "lucky cancer charm" just someone who has a lot of experience and is probably really good at being sympathetic (and not a vomit wuss).

Best wishes to your mom. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy many years ago. She lived 29 years longer and died of totally unrelated causes.

May your mom be just as lucky...but then she already is, she has you.

Jeanette in GA said...

Grandma Betty-

We love you! Good luck on your treatment and we hoping for a speedy recovery before cruise time.


Seriously. Can you take much more of this cancer shit?

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a praise for "Grandma Betty." And HATS OFF and WOO HOO to everyone who has ever participated in cancer research fund drives and awareness activities. I had a breast biopsy a couple of years ago and it was ONLY because of stories like this and all the research that is able to be done that I didn't COMPLETELY freak out ("completely" being the key word there, since I did "somewhat" freak out). We'll never relax until we can make sense of cancer, but in the meantime it's such a blessing that advances are being made.

Claire in Indiana

Anonymous said...

Prayers for Grandma Betty....Here's to her having smooth sailing through radiation.....and nothing else to interfere with her summer plans!!!

Mary Z

Anonymous said...

Best wishes, Grandma Betty.

And disposable vomit bags? Do they carry those at Sam's Club?
Because I do not like washing anything vomit-related. Ever. And please tell me that the bags aren't clear.

Anna in IL

Mom2Toribug said...

Anna in IL--- Take it from a nurse, no they don't carry the disposable vomit bags at Sam's. Only in the hospital. All the ones I have ever seen were blue, not clear thank goodness.
Kristie--- I had to laugh b/c as I was reading this post my daughter was hanging over the toilet vomiting (no I wasn't laughing that she was vomiting), but b/c despite being a pediatric nurse I can't help her AT ALL with that part. She gets sick and daddy better be home. Or else, she pukes, I puke, she pukes, I puke, etc. Nope can't do it. I am glad to hear Grandma Betty did so well and you are able to use all your expertise helping her with recovery.

Random said...

I'm sorry to hear about the "fun" of yet another cancer journey, but at the same time really glad to hear that it was caught early. My mother had a similar cancer (it was called "stage 0 lung cancer") and though the treatment was unpleasant, at least it was short-lived and she has been 100% healthy and cancer-free ever since.
Although it's certainly no fun to be faced with cancer diagnoses so many times, at least you are in a position where the language and situation are (sadly) familiar to you, so you are probably an amazing help to anyone around you who has to face this kind of thing. I have to congratulate you on your strength.

jadine said...

Grandma Betty - best wishes to you, of course! I'm so glad they caught it early, and hope you can cruise comfortably!

Kristie - Good grief! Enough with the family-health-issues, already! (I'm not yelling it *at* you, but on your behalf to the cosmos). I'm so glad everyone has had you,'re probably a calming influence when needed.

And the barf bags --- I had those available (and used them) when I was hospital last time, and they were clear. They were even calibrated to measure "output." Which was lovely. Actually, I really liked them because they were really easy to use (could get them right up there, unlike a basin of some sort).

Hang in there, Escoes! Hugs!

Pam D said...

So glad that Grandma Betty caught things early! It's still *cancer* and the treatment still bites, but all of those cancer walks and pink ribbons have accomplished quite a bit. Thankfully. So .. just know that your "groupies", or "Escovites", or whatever the heck it is that we are.. we're praying and thinking good thoughts and BELIEVING... for ALL of you!

M said...

Go Grandma B! At least you get a chance to make your kids wait on you :)

...and it's not you Kristie...cuz then I'd have to be blaming me too...and I won't have any of that!

Mandy McMahan said...

Grandma Betty -- in my prayers.

Natalie said...

Well, good frickin' grief. I'm keeping Grandma Betty in my prayers for sure. And all of you. Kristie--well, dang.

Anonymous said...

Can we please find a place that serves any other kind of sandwich than the ones you and yours keep getting?? Geesh. But I am glad to hear that Grandma is doing good and we will pray that this radiation does it's job and the cancer is gone forever!!!
Patricia, Garden City
P.S. We love Eskimo Joe's!!

Anonymous said...

OMG... Sorry to hear about Grandma Betty. So glad she noticed it in the early stage. Hoping for a speedy recovery. See you all in a few weeks :-) Rena'

Anonymous said...

My mom was diagnosed with Ciorrhis of the liver (no known cause) ascties and pulmonary hypertention. She lives in the Carraige house. She has been hospitalized 2X I have seen her anatomy more than I EVER want to admit. I watched them give her a cath 2X! But I love her dearly and am her primary caregiver so I do what I have to do. She cared for me as I grew up, now its my turn.
Tanners mom

Lollyblogger said...

First things first: Grandma Betty, I think I can speak for the collective internet and tell you that we will mail you some new vomit bags. Seriously. Way to be enviornmentally friendly, but i think even Al Gore doesn't rinse his out.

Second, Kristie-- you CAN WRITE. Not to sound all cheesy, but your blog has such a strong personal voice, that I feel like I'm scrapbooking and drinking amaretto sours with you.
God Bless your family!

Anonymous said...

Kristie. Are you kidding me? I am thinking of defriending you on Facebook because I'm scared of your karma.
Okay, you know I don't mean that, because you are funny and wise and deal with cancer well.

Oops, this is not about you, is it? I am saying a prayer for Grandma Betty and you and your family. Honestly, you can only take so much shit. I know you are counting down to the cruise.

Sandie in MN said...

Oops.. I am NOT anonymous, I am Sandie!

Anonymous said...

Well,damn. Another slice of crap sandwich. I will keep Grandma Betty and the rest of you in my prayers. How is Blaine feeling these days?
Sheila in MN

Melissa said...

Well, I commend you for being able to withstand the vomiting. I'm more of a vomitphobe than your sister, if I even suspect that someone is vomiting within a nine or ten mile radius of me, I will have a panic attack. The chances of me rinsing a vomit bag out are about the same as they are for me walking on the moon in what I'm wearing right now! All that aside though, glad to hear your mom is doing well!

Cathy said...

I would say it's unbelievable that your mom has breast cancer but these things do happen and your mom is lucky to have you in her corner, and your sister :)

I hope the rest of her treatmeant goes well.

Marisa said...

Prayers for your Mom along with Blaine and your whole family.
On the puke issue .. I am right there with your Sister. If someone even gags I am gagging also!

leeanne said...

Kristie ~ I'm sorry about your mom's diagnosis, but so glad that the surgery went well and that the prognosis is so good! My best wishes to you, Grandma B, for a very speedy recovery so you can enjoy your cruise. And yes, I definitely get my annual mammogram! They can make dorsal fins out of my boobs once a year if it means staying healthy!!

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marysienka said...

Ooow! Sorry to hear about your mom. Cancer sucks! I'm glad it was caught early though, and I wish her good luck with the radiation.

You know Kristi, I'm sure you'd be able to help me study for my next heme/onc exam ;)

Anyway, here's hoping to no more new cancer diagnosed around you (at least for a looong time)!

R. in Canada

p.s. my mom got a similar cancer 2 yrs ago. The hardest part was the post-op as she pucked her heels as well. Radiation went fine. Hope this is the same for your mom!

Renee said...

Keeping Grandma Betty in our prayers! You rock, GB!!!!

Kristie, hang in there. CS!

Renee said...

I meant FC!

Jacqueline said...

So happy to hear your mother is doing ok after surgery. She as well as your entire family are in my prayers.

Sally said...

Wow...that sucks!!

I will say my prayers for Grandma Betty and you!!

I know I would have laughed at my sister too!!!! What are the for anyway????

Knock the crap out of those Ta-Ta invaders!!!

Anonymous said...

To me vomiting is just something one should do alone, so I am with your sister. I don't mean this in a callous way. If I was puking my guts out, the last thing I want is someone rubbing my back or touching my forehead. I finally had to have a Come To Jesus over this around the age of 8 with my mother. I don't like being touched anyhow, but especially not mid-hurl.

My prayers are with Grandma Betty.


Dianna in Louisiana said...

Huge Grandma Betty!!!!! Our family will definitely be praying for you and your family.

I imagine you must be a pretty terrific lady to raise such a wonderful daughter. Hang in there and you'll be on your cruise before you know it and this "crap" will be over with!

Debbie said... name is Debbie and I am a sympathy puker!! And I need to find out where to get those barf bags! If I feel a puke session coming on, I go outside, because the thought of putting my face in close proximity of a toilet makes me puke WORSE! I think I need to puke just thinking about it.
Anyway, Prayers for your Mommy being sent up for a speedy recovery! Have fun on the cruise!

Andee said...

Praying for your mom!

I've recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and I am the 3rd one at our daycare. I am beginning to believe that there is something in the paint..... But I promise not to tell you it's you..... I did the same thing as your mom when I got my diagnosis - I didn't tell anyone until the day before the surgery. And then I told most people by blog. It's just so hard knowing that people are worrying for you.

Let us know if you need anything. Otherwise, we'll be praying for you!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear the news about Grandma Betty, but she couldn't have anyone better to take care of her than you! Know all of you are in my prayers. I hope the cruise is a huge sucess and I can't wait to hear about it.

Postcard Cindy

Lauren said...

Good lord - your family has had more than enough of the crap sandwich! I'm glad they caught it early and I hope that'll take care of it; your mom is in my prayers.

libeye said...

Grandma Betty --

I had pretty much your same diagnosis three years ago - DCIS - stage 0 - had a lumpectomy - 6 weeks of radiation - and am just fine today. The surgery was a non event for me - and the radiation was until about half way through. Prior to radiation, I was given a prescription for the latest and greatest drug that should have protected the tissues of my breast (and which was extremely expensive). This drug (whose name I don't remember) did nothing. After developing an open, weeping wound, I was very discouraged - to the point I almost discontinued the radiation. Fortunately for me, my radiologist listened to me and was willing to return to the "tried but true" drug of Silvodene - which cost all of $10 for a huge jar - and which was my miracle cure. I felt almost instant relief - the wound healed within a matter of days - and I completed my treatments. I remain cancer free today - with followup mammograms every six months which are also followed up with a visit to the radiologist.

I wish for you the very best in your continued treatments and recovery! You certainly have a phenomenal support system with your daughters!

Kristie - thank you for being the sharing person that you are - not only with your Mom but with all of your followers as well. Do you have any comprehension of the impact that you make on this world?

kimi said...

Hey! I'll say a prayer for your mom tonight. How lucky she caught it early. My mom-in-law had forgotten to get hers, and you guessed it, when she remembered they found a lump. She was blessed to have it all removed (not so blessed to have it in Canada - but that's a whole 'nother rant) and is doing great.

Thanks for the PSA. I figure it's 5 minutes of discomfort for peace of easy trade.

Hugs to you too.


Kari said...

Praying for you all. :)

DeborahB said...

I agree, you and your family have had WAY too many servings of said crap sandwich! Prayers of course to Grandma Betty for a complete recovery and giving her a chance to kick cancer's butt too! And it's funny, the girls and I just made mammogram van appointments yesterday! So I'm getting squished Monday. I hope your mom gets through chemo ok. It's gotta help she's got all her family around her. Another good reason for living out there now, right?

Musings from Me said...

Two things:

What did you think of Paul Blart: Mall Cop? I thought it was a terrible film. Predictable. Poorly acted. Kinda felt like Kevin James was doing what the SNL guys do with their films -- ride the wave of familiarity by doing a mediocre film.

I attended my daughter's literary magazine program. One of the kids wrote a poem inspired by a Trans Siberian Orchestra song. Not sure which one, but the poem was good.

theothermother said...

Hugs and prayers to Betty for a quick comeback. I cannot call her Grandma Betty as she is about the same age I am and that just seems wrong.


Monica H said...

My thoughts ar with you and your family. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer a year and a half ago. After a biopsy and mastectomy, she is cancer free and has been in remission for over a year!

Anonymous said...

Kristie, I can't believe it. Please tell your mom that we are thinking of her and pray that all her treatments go well. I think she needs 9 days at sea and a few nights of 10 kids to appreciate how great life really is. I wonder if we can work that out. :)
Seriously, can y'all ever catch a stinkin' break! xo Kim