Back in August when Nova Scotia's borders opened and I'd finally been able to be fully vaxxed, I isolated, got tested, rented a car (to avoid potential COVID exposure during air travel) and made the two day trek to Ontario to see my 74 year old mother, who was diagnosed earlier in the year with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I'd been doing remote caregiving to that point, dealing with support workers and transportation and deliveries etc. etc., so this is the first time I would see her since her diagnosis.
She'd finished her first 6 rounds of chemo and enough time had passed that she was starting to feel okay. On day 2 of my visit was her PET scan, and on the 3rd last day of my visit would be her meeting with the oncologist to discuss where we go from here.
I timed my visit on purpose so that we could enjoy our time together with a little bit of hope, rather than spending the whole time with the knowledge of what would have to come next - surgery, more chemo, end of life care, etc. It was a very strange period of time - very "Schrödinger's cat": For those two weeks she was both going to live and going to die.
She'd been completely isolated except for her medical appointments and occasional in-person home care visits (for shots following treatment), very concerned about COVID and not wanting to take any chances. So while I spent the two weeks with her trying to help her get organized, encouraging her to get her affairs in order, to clean and sort things while she was feeling well enough, etc., I also took her places, made her walk with me every day, go into stores (safely), get take-out from all the local places, etc. etc. To LIVE, while she could.
And then I took her to her oncologist appointment. And the oncologist glossed over the good news so quickly I had to say, “Wait. Do you mean she doesn't need any more treatment?” My mom had had a LOT of cancer, I'd been told. Much more that she understood or realized. And now she didn't. A spot on the cheek that the PET scan had found that they'd do an ultrasound on just to check on (which ended up fine), but nothing they were concerned about.
My mother's reaction: “I told you so." She'd been confident, and I'd thought (though never expressed to her) that it was false hope.
Not all hope is false hope, I guess.
I've heard from family and from my mother herself that what I had done while being home had been just what had been needed: to take her out places so that she got over her anxiety and started to reconnect with the world. She got her third jab. She visits people in COVID safe ways all the time now. She no longer has panic attacks when she checks her mail or pops quickly into the grocery store to grab something she needs between Instacart orders. She's exercising and walking regularly. She's going to (masked and distanced but indoor) prayer meetings in person and is thinking about going to a church service. She's LIVING. And it's good.
It might come back. A new cancer or other health issue will likely at some point raise it's ugly head - she is elderly, after all, so unless she dies quickly or in her sleep she will continue to grow older.
But I didn't think she'd continue to grow older. So that's okay.
What a beautiful story @NataHat. I love, love this! Congratulations to both you and your mom for successfully navigating the many dark and stormy waters of this journey that you've both been on. Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman so lucky to have you as her daughter!
Are you back home now?
Oh my gosh what a wonderful post. I smiled through tears when I read it. I am so happy not only for her good news, but for the time you both got to spend together and how she has opened up her world post your visit.
Sending many more blessings your way.
Great post to send me off on my weekend.
Wonderful news, I myself believe that these visits with our parents help to put a little life back into their soul. The time I am spending with my father at the moment was precious time that we all have needed (my father was/is an alcoholic so before he quit drinking we didn't enjoy all our visits with him) I am certainly very unhappy he is ill now but we have had some much needed healing and quality time together as a family.