Have you ever had those days when you wish to Hell you had listened more carefully to your mother? Today is one of those days for me.
I remember Mom telling me stories about when she had to spoon feed her mother (my grandmother) liver. She was dying from liver cancer. Hmmmm. I never really took notes on what that was all about or what her symptoms were or any of that. I just chalked it up to “history”. I never did meet my grandparents on my Mom’s side. I just know they died relatively young (I guess they would have been my age).
Today’s appointment reminded me that I needed to have paid more attention. My liver is my biggest problem right now. The chemo helped and the tumors are shrinking, according to my CT scan, but, it is not clear whether surgery is an option. I have been referred to a liver specialist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Good news, I can see the specialist as soon as Monday.
I should be grateful. I should be hopeful. I should be looking at the bright side of things.
I need a good cry. I know it helps. The tears always seem to clear the negativity out of my head as though it were a toxin being freed from my brain. I just feel numb. The tears will hit when I am not expecting them. They will come as a welcome relief – at the most inconvenient time, no doubt.
“What will you remove during the surgery?” I asked my doctor.
“Your ovaries, your uterus, your cervix, your spleen, your right diaphragm, and chunks of your liver. Maybe a part of your bowel if the cancer has wrapped around it.”
“That sounds pretty extensive. How long is recovery?” I asked again. (There won’t be much left in me!)
“It would be between 6 – 8 weeks. This is major surgery. And it is not without potential risks.” (Nothing ever is…. my body is strong! I don’t feel sick. I keep thinking I should feel sick.)
I have faith in my doctors and I have faith in their wisdom. I pray to have the strength to face the challenges that face my family and I with grace and dignity. I know things are far better medically today than they were when my Grandmother was ill.
Still, it is hard not to blame myself for not knowing better. “I should have been more vigilant” I keep hearing in my head. “Stacey, why did you not insist on a more careful inspection a year ago when you felt pain?” (Mom would have made me see the doctor!)
“It is what it is.” I also keep telling myself. There is no point in crying over spilled milk.
I hold hope for Monday – that the specialist will take my case. I have to hold hope. What other choice do I have? And what’s wrong with that, after all? My children need me – and so does Kevin. It would be hard on them if I were not hopeful. Through the grace of God – I can still think positively. I look for signs of hope everywhere. That the sun is out today is a good sign. (A gift from Mom?) That I am hungry and enjoy eating is a good sign! (A gift from Dad?) That I am surrounded by good people who love and support me is a good sign! (A gift from Heaven!) Life, though, will never be the same. I realize that in days gone by, I would not have survived to this day. And in that respect I feel like I am living on borrowed time – and need to be grateful for every single second of life.
No one knows how long they have in this world. In some ways I feel lucky that I have at least been given an appreciation for the time I have left. I remain hopeful that I will grow old and watch my grandchildren grow old (after I am given grandchildren). Until then – I need to remember to live my dash.