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Brenda's Journey to Beat Cancer

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What We Know So Far

Hi family....planning to use this website to keep everyone up to date on stuff with mom and dad's medical and personal situations. The calendar on this page has all of their currently scheduled doctor appointments, but it will probably change often as more things are added. I added what dr they're with and what the appointment is for. Here's what we know so far:

Mom:

Had a small tumor removed and biopsied from the left breast in the fall.  Tumor was cancerous, but due to the size of the tumor, it was the best case scenario as far as having cancer could go. They removed the entire tumor and a lot of surrounding tissue, therefore removing all of the cancer.  The next move was to biopsy the lymph nodes near the site of the tumor, which happened last week. They do this because if the cancer had spread, that's where it would go first.If the cancer was contained to the breast tumor, the next phase of treatment would be several radiation treatments (side effects are extreme exhaustion) and some type of hormone therapy (in pill form) for five years.If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, she will still need to do radiation and hormone therapy, but additionally, will need to do chemo. Chemo affects everyone differently, but common side effects are nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and hair loss.

Additionally, around the same time the mammogram issue presented, there was an abnormal test result from a pap smear. She's now been through two biopsies regarding this issue, and it was determined that it is NOT currently cancerous, but IS pre-cancerous. They are recommending a full hysterectomy and the dr feels like if she does not have the hysterectomy, there is a 75% chance these abnormal cells will graduate into cancer. The hysterectomy needs to take place BEFORE she begins any of the chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy.

Dad:

Dad has been in a lot of pain with his back and knee recently, to the point where his knee has nearly given out several times. His doctor called with the news that their x-ray showed several tears in his knee and some fluid present as well. They want him to schedule an MRI to get a better look at what's going on and recommend the next course of treatment. If surgery is recommended, he wants to wait until mom is through the majority of her stuff, because he wants to be well enough to take care of her. 

We also discussed him going back to therapy to deal with some PTSD stuff. He is following up with VA on this, because due to the severity of his PTSD, he should be receiving more benefits than he currently is. Plus he really needs the help. As he gets older, he has more difficulty sleeping and regulating emotions because (this is just me speculating) he can't outrun the memories by staying so physically busy anymore.

WHAT WE NEED TO DO:

1. Be present. Call, check in, stop by-even if just to say hi. With both of them. We can always ask if they need anything, but knowing the two of them, they will likely always say no. So in light of that, it's probably best to just DO for them without asking or being asked. Take the trash out, cook dinner once in awhile, offer to take one or both of them to appointments. Show up and clean the house once in awhile. Help out with laundry. Don't forget about fun stuff too-dinners out occasionally or a movie. Game night. Things that will take away from only dwelling on the problems.

There's a calendar on this website that could help with scheduling some of this if we want to use it-we should not just assume that someone else is doing the heavy lifting and go on with our lives pretending like we don't need to worry about it. All of us have different strengths, different amounts of free time, and different ways we can be really helpful. You know they would do it for us, so let's do it for them.

2. Recognize that when radiation happens (and if chemo happens)-they will probably need help with driving to appointments, possibly keeping company during appointments.

3. Be patient. I know both of our parents, as much as we love them, can be exhausting and exasperating sometimes (I'm sure they've thought the same of us many times, lol). They are both stubborn and set in their ways. Try to remember that they've both been through incredibly traumatic events in life. I really think we probably have no idea the extent of some of the things they've both experienced. Mom's fear and anxiety is a direct result of that. Dad's anger and impatience are a direct result of that. Try to find compassion for that when they frustrate you. And if you can't in that moment, just take a step away and come back when you can.

4. We need to come together and figure out the house situation. The ideal situation would be to get them a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, which will require a cleanout of the old living room first, then some plumbing/buildout. They could also desperately use some new living room furniture. If we figure out what we can manage financially, then it would be best to start moving forward quickly on both of these things. I know I'm not so useful with the day-to-day tasks because of living far away, but I am very good at organizing and cleaning and will happily take several days and tackle clearing out the junk in the old room.

5. Lean on each other and be there for them. This sucks. None of us want it, and none of us want to see them go through it. But, we are all here. Cancer is not a death sentence like it used to be. We are lucky to have our parents at this age and would like to see them happy and healthy and thriving, and it will be up to us to help them get there.

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