My mom couldn’t feel the side of her face for a couple minutes and went to the ER  in April 2007 on the evening before her 55th birthday. Several days later, she was diagnosed with glioblastoma,  a (terminal) form of brain cancer. My first thoughts were of Marnie Rose, a young pediatrician who I knew from Hillel in Houston who had died at 27 (she was on a reality series on ABC named Houston Medical while she was battling the disease) and Kim Perrot, the point guard for the Houston Comets who had died of brain cancer.

She had brain surgery almost immediately and began radiotherapy, and then a one year course of chemotherapy. During her 9th course, a second tumor was found.

All in all, she has had 2 brain surgeries, radiation therapy (several types), and 3 different types of chemo (including biological and chemical combinations), but they tumors kept coming back. In all “fairness,” the neuro-oncologist said that the surgeon can remove the ones he sees, but there’s no way to prevent new ones from coming. Not to mention the fact that, in this day and age, there’s no reason to hide anything, what with the Internet being at our fingertips.

It actually took me more than a year after her initial diagnosis to go online and check mortality rates. This was when the third tumor came, the one that paralyzed her right side. If you’re really lucky, you have 3 years. That’s if you are under 50, which she wasn’t, and there are no neurological side effects, which she already had. Basically it said the average is 7.5 months.

In December my mom’s condition took a sudden turn for the worse and she lost her ability to talk and move (though she got some movement back). We were told by the doctors that it was a matter of days to weeks. It has been just over 2 months now, and she’s been in a full care facility because we can’t take care of her ourselves anymore. She is mostly fed through an IV. She doesn’t recognize us and doesn’t understand anything that is said to her, which is probably a blessing at this point. She’s on morphine, so she’s out of it most of the time anyway.

Now we’re just waiting for her to die.

It can happen one of two ways:

1) The tumors and edemas will grow until one of them make a hole so big that another one will drop into her brainstem and kill her instantaneously (this is the one we’re “hoping” for)

2) She will have many seizures, each of which will weaken her heart until it gives out. Seeing as she’s so young (56), she has an incredibly strong heart, so this means a lot of suffering (which she is going through).

Meanwhile we are trying to pretend life is normal and go on with our daily routines, whatever those are.

Update: My mother has passed away.

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