Mom’s cancer is back. Well let me rephrase that – it apparently has been there all along, just not big enough to be detected. It’s now in her lungs. Her oncologists said that he is sure that it was there when she struggled through the colon cancer and treatment two years ago.
The good news is that it took two years to show up on blood tests and the PET scan. The bad news is that it is in the lungs – never a good thing. There are two spots in her right lung and one in her left. Her doctor described them as small spots, the largest about the size of a nickel. I don’t know much about lung cancer, but that doesn’t sound terribly small. Pea size is small, an ant size is small – a nickel, not so much.
I suspected that they may find some type of cancer in mom since three blood tests came back with elevated levels in the cancer detecting test. Still, the diagnosis of cancer in the lungs took my breath away.
When we saw her geriatric internist a few days later and told her about the cancer, Dr. L asked mom what she thought of it. Mom simply shrugged her shoulders. Dr. L then asked mom if she was worried about it and mom replied, “No.” With a little chuckle Dr. L said, “We’ll if she’s not worried about it I guess you shouldn’t be either.” That’s great in theory, but in reality mom doesn’t really understand what it means to have lung cancer. We do. Actually, I’m pretty sure that ten minutes after she was asked the question, she didn’t even remember the conversation. She was too focused on the trip to the casino in Biloxi dad promised her. They left for Biloxi from Dr. L’s office.
Mom’s oncologist knows mom’s history. He knows about the two hip replacements, the diabetes, the colon cancer, and he knows about the dementia. He also recognizes that she will never understand what is happening to her if they should put her through radiation and chemotherapy again. It was brutal last time. For now he recommends that we take the wait and see approach, do another scan in two months and see if there is any change. If the cancer is growing quickly rather than at the slower pace that he anticipates, we will have to make some very difficult decisions.
For now all I can do is pray – pray for mom, pray for dad and pray for the strength to make the right decision when that time comes.