Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The One When She Found Out

Mom was a smoker for 41 years of her life. But she excercised also most of her life. When she was in her early 30's, she got into aerobics, working out almost everyday and then later on transitioned into taebo. There were times when I would try working out with her and boy did she surprise me when I would have to take a water break and she didn't have to.
Come mid February of 2005, during one of their planning session seminars in one of the seminaries here in Baguio, Mom noticed that she had a very hard time walking up a very steep hill. She tried not to pay attention to this. But the week after, while walking in the mall, she had to stop several times to catch her breath. I'm sure Mom knew that something was wrong but she tried to ignore it. But that same day, during one of her stops to catch her breath, she bumped into one of her former students who happened to be a pulmonologist. Dr. S asked Mom what was wrong and she explained to him what she was feeling. Hearing this, Dr. S advised Mom to have an x-ray ultrasound of her lungs. Although reluctant, Mom went. Results were not good. Half of her left lung was almost not visible since it was filled with fluid and her right lung wasn't visible at all anymore. Dr. S scheduled Mom to be confined so that she could be aspirated.
Mom checked in the next day and the procedure went well. Dr. S was able to aspirate around 2 1/2 litres of fluid from Mom's lungs. Fluid was very yellow. Biopsy results would be out in 7 days.
Mom checked out the next day, according to her she was already feeling much better. Also, by this time Mom was already 48 hours smoke free -- nicotine free.
Later during that week, I had to go down to Manila to attend a meeting at our main office headquarters. Hubby accopmanied me. I got a call from Mom saying that they will have to do another aspiration to try and remove the remaining fluids. I asked her when she was going to check in and she said that she was going to wait for me. I got home after 2 days and was surprised that my Aunt met us at the gate saying that Josh was sleeping with her downsatirs because our househelp was with Mom in the hospital. I wasn't sure what was happening anymore.
I rushed inside the house and called Mom on her cellphone. I wanted to know why she checked in and why she didn't tell me. And then she said it -- "Lou, It's cancer."
SHIT now Im crying.
What?! Lou it's cancer. I have lung cancer. Stage IIIb. That night I cried myself to sleep.
The next day, I know I had to go to the hospital, but I was scared to see Mom. I called up my Aunts (sisters of my Mom) and cried to them. I cried out to the Lord and demanded from Him why He was doing this to us.
I went to the office and told my boss. I cried.
Fianlly, I went to the hospital. When I saw Mom, I ran to her and burried my head in her arms. I cried. She cried.
A tube was inserted to her lungs to drain the remaining fluid. She was to undergo chemotherapy. 6 cycles.
I got to talk to her oncologist, let me call her Dr. Nonsense. I asked her what the prognosis was. And she asnwered me by saying : " With chemo, she'll live for 6 months, without chemo, in 3 months she'll be dead." Pain turned into anger. Is this the doctor we are going to entrust my Mom's remaining days with? NO WAY.
I called up my Aunt in Manila. I said I want to bring Mom down to Manila for treatment in the best hospital only by the best doctor. My Aunt said she'd call me back with the final arrangements. She said that I made the right decision. I went back to see Mom and I told her that we were bringing her down. She said it would be too expensive. I said I didn't care. I told her to relax, to just let me fix all the necessary last minute arrangements and to trust that the Lord would carry us through. Later that afternoon, my Aunt called, all was ready at St.Luke's hospital and that she also founf a Christian oncologist who was more than willing to take care of Mom all I needed to do now was to make arrangements with the ambulance. I informed the nurses that we would be checking Mom out at 6am the next day because we would be bringing her down to Manila.
6am, the amulatory staff nurses came to pick Mom up. I was ready by 5. I sat in front, Mom was laying down at the back. I had my Bible and a slice of banana bread. I couldn't eat. My last meal was 2 days ago.
We arrived in Manila and went straight to the ER before Mom was admitted. My Aunt and cousin were there to meet us. Finally, after about an hour, Mom was finally wheeled in to her room. Then my Aunts from the States called up. We all broke down and hugged each other.
But I felt safe. I knew my Mom was in good hands.

1 comment:

francesbean said...

this is hard to read, because my dad has the exact same thing, IIIB, longtime smoker. We thank God everyday that he's still here fighting it. Your experiences are all too familiar, the no smoking signs you did as a child, i remember making those too. The taxotere cisplatin carboplatin, i remember them all.
Thanks for sharing. Glad to have found a kindred spirit.