A return to normal?

So some good news today, and boy did I need some! Mom and I went to see the oncologist, which I was dreading. I had read it was pretty standard for oncologists to order a round of chemotherapy to prevent a recurrence of cancer. I’ve also read the accounts of the wise, brave souls on The Colon Club forum and have a better understanding of how brutal chemo treatments can be, with side effects ranging from the expected (nausea, fatigue) to the bizarre (cold sensitivity so severe that you can’t open the refrigerator without wearing gloves!)

Of course chemo has saved lives, and if an individual chooses to fight their cancer with chemo or radiation, I offer my support and my admiration. I just didn’t feel like it would be the right course of treatment for my mother.

Mom and I at the nursing home on my birthday.

When the oncologist began to talk to us, she said the normal regimen was six months of chemo. My heart sank like a stone. But then she followed it up by saying that due to my mother’s age and the fact that she was beyond 8 weeks after her surgery (due to blood clot complications) that the chemo would not be a benefit to her, and could actually do her real harm. I was pleasantly surprised that the oncologist was honest about the side effects of chemo, especially on the elderly. She said if it were her own mother, she would also not recommend chemo, instead she would suggest a “wait and watch” approach.

That was music to my ears. It was exactly what I was hoping for. So yes, Mom’s cancer may come back at some point. Six months, six years, no one can predict that. But at least Mom can enjoy a better quality of life in the here and now. She’s actually feeling quite well after recovering from her colectomy, and her appetite is great. I don’t want to take all that she’s worked hard to regain from her.

And yes, on a more selfish note, I hope to return home to Atlanta after setting up some kind of additional companion care for Mom.

Just like when we finally had to embrace the fact that Dad had dementia, our lives will not be the old normal again. But at this point, the new normal sounds pretty darn good.

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