A Cancer Party

The cancer has spread.

I could tell as soon as Dr. Chen came in the room that it was bad news. For some reason Dad wasn’t there yet. We had lost him in between the infusion room and the Dr.’s office. Where was he? Dr. Chen took mom’s hands and said, the cancer is progressing. It has spread to the lungs and the liver. I heard him immediately. Mom, in typical fashion, hadn’t heard him. She was still trying to tell him that we lost dad and that we had re-scheduled the infusion so we wouldn’t be late for this appointment. His accent is strong and mom’s hearing and attention span are not strong. He said it again, and still she didn’t hear. He mentioned the (dreaded) word Hospice. It didn’t register. She was distracted with what she wanted to tell him. Finally, she understood. Hospice. She thrust her hand to her chest and said, “Me? Hospice?! That’s for SICK  OLD people!” He laughed and looked nervously at me. I had to laugh and said, “She has a strong spirit.” He said, yes, a strong spirit. Dad finally came in. The news was reiterated. Hospice.

It will be 4-6 weeks before the cancer will really start to bother her. In fact, there will be a few weeks where she’ll feel better as the poison leaves her body. We’ve tried all the chemos for this. They’re not working anymore.

How long Dr. Chen? I can’t say. Hospice is for people with 6 months left.

Mom says she’s gonna need some new outfits if people are gonna be visiting her everyday. And then she says she needs to cancel her Crunch gym membership. We all laugh.

The cancer has spread to both lungs, the liver, the pelvis, abdomen, peritoneal and lymph nodes.

Mom asks the Dr. if he remembers what she said to him the first time he gave her the news (3 ½ years ago). He remembers. “You are in the Lord’s hands. Come see, I even typed it in my notes.” Sure enough, it says, “Patient says she’s in God’s hands.” This doctor thought she was silly 3 ½ years ago. Now I see the respect and love in his eyes for my faith-full mom.

Mom is most emphatic about this: I don’t want anybody treating me like I’m sick!

I suggest we get everyone together to tell them. “Well, is it gonna be a downer? I don’t want it to be maudlin.” Probably. But, we can have a party afterward. “Will that ruin the party?” Probably. I have to smile.

All she wants to do when we get home is work on her book. She’s in the editing stage. It’s almost done. Dr. Chen asked for an autographed copy when it’s done. He said he read the other two.

After everyone came over, and mom gave the sad news, there really was a party. Mom says, “It was one of the best days of my life, if you can believe it! Not at all maudlin.”


Kate HagenComment