what thoughts rattle around in your brain when you're a mom of a toddler and a breast cancer patient?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Getting By

Yesterday my family and I went to a birthday party for our friends' son who was turning 5. At the party was a sweet 9 month old baby girl named Emily. I was absolutely taken with her, and I must have played with her for a couple of hours. It was so much fun, I just loved her--she was just starting to crawl and she was a nice mellow little soul, not fussy or difficult but also not quite as active as Jennifer.

Towards the ends of the day, I was chatting with Emily's mom and I mentioned to her that I really feel like I missed out on getting to know my own baby at that age...it just sort of dawned on me during our conversation that I pretty much missed Jen at 9 months because that was right around the time of my mastectomy surgery, so I was both stressed (before) and then drugged out (after) for at least 3 weeks. When I used the words "missed out" to Emily's mom, she asked why (of course) and I told her I had been in treatment for breast cancer since Jen was about three months old. Since I didn't elaborate much, she didn't really understand how serious my condition is or that not everyone survives for years after a diagnosis. She asked if I thought I'd have any more children and she seemed surprised when I told her I probably couldn't, between all the chemo drugs and me turning 39 in about a week. I'm sure she doesn't know that chemo can make a woman sterile (why should she have to know that?) and I'll just assume she didn't think I was nearly 39?

Later that night I was in the bathtub feeling sad and crying about all the time I'm missing with Jen (and the rest of my family) because of cancer treatment of one kind or another. It really sucks. I hope this new chemo will kill the cancer and let me have some sort of life during the treatment...what's the point of being alive if I'm too tired to do anything? Or in pain from surgery? Or sick from treatment.

This week I received two really nice cards/gifts from friends, and my continually generous sister let me chose my own birthday gift so that's on the way too. And something from my Aunt Angie too, another continually generous family member. From Linz, some gift certificates to Cold Stone to help fatten me up (I'm 113 lbs and a girls size 16 right now). From Kelly Mc, a big check to buy some takeout when the mood strikes me and when I don't feel like cooking. From my sister Vikki, a Palm Pilot to help me keep all my apppointments straight, which is getting harder and harder all the time with my ever increasing medical crap to deal with. From Aunt Angie, a big check which I'm supposed to use for fun stuff for me but usually ends up mostly getting spent on bills and stuff (I'd say about 40% of it gets to go to "fun stuff"--I wish it was more but when I'm working less, we have less money...)

Hank and JoAnne are planning to visit us in early June, which will be nice. We haven't had much time together since they were here in September to help after my mastectomy surgery and I didn't really get to enjoy them since I was feeling crappy for most of their visit. Angela said they could stay in her guestroom which will really help out--she only lives about 10 minutes away and this will allow H + J to stay a bit longer since they won't have a giant hotel tab to deal with. In all likelihood, I'll still be working part time since I'm sure to be going thru chemo of one kind or another. I start the new chemo drug Navelbine on May 9, I have to ask the onco how many treatments he wants me to have before I get another CT. Unlike other treatments I've tired, Navelbine is given 1x weekly. Maybe it will kick my ass, maybe it won't. There's only one way to find out. But if it does kick my ass, I don't know if that also means it will make me tired every weekend (I'll get the treatment on Mondays). I sure hope not.

My mom has been asking to visit for awhile now and I don't really know what to do about that. She needs to stay with us since she is on a very tight budget. Our place is small and my mom is used to living alone and of course there's more that just that to think about. I know its time to let my mom come out again, at least for a weekend, she hasn't seen Jennifer since Jen was 2 months old. Our last visit was ok but she did her usual thing and tried to pick a fight at the end and it was dramatic overall. I just don't have the energy for that. I wish I could talk to her and tell her that if she can hold it together and be positive and help out and not make more work for us (Dan) then she can come. Most of the time when she asks about visiting, she just says she wants to come see Jen, not help us. Occasionally she rephrases so that it sounds like she would try to help us out. I don't think she knows how.

BTW, I've never told my mom I keep this blog and I hope she doesn't stumble onto it, she'll probably not like what she reads. I've never been able to have a conversation with her to try to straighten out all the years of drama and conflict she has created in our family--she just isn't up to facing it. Part of dealing with cancer is trying to tie up loose ends just in case...I don't think I'll be able to do that directly with my mom. Instead, I do that by talking to my therapist. As my sister aptly said in an email (I hope I don't misquote): Our mother has re-written our family history a hundred times in her head and she no longer really knows what really happened. In the past, when I've tried to talk to my mom about incidents in order to resolve them for myself, she doesn't remember them at all or pretends it happened totally differently. It makes me feel like I'm going crazy.

I try my best to take my mom for what she is and what she can offer. I also try to limit my contact with her, both on the phone and in person because it isn't healthy for me. I know I need to see her soon and I'm trying to get myself ready for that. I look so different than when she last saw me, and she doesn't really listen when I tell her about treatment or its results so she is sure to be shocked at the difference.


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11:14 AM


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