Devastating news. Gearing up for battle. Gratitude.
Friday, July 07, 2017
One week ago today, my sister Ros was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has also spread into her liver. In addition she had several small blood clots in both lungs, caused by the liver cancer. Monday they successfully put a mesh filter in her femoral artery where it can catch any large blood clots and prevent them from going up into her lungs. Also took a liver biopsy. Tomorrow morning she meets with doctors to learn the biopsy results and treatment recommendations. Her husband, my other sister and a close family friend who is also a nurse will be at the meeting with her to take notes, ask questions and provide support.
My sister is 59. She's always been pretty healthy up until now. It's such a shock, I am still reeling from the news and all thats' happened, as are my mom and siblings. R has always been very active, working in food service and also having her own landscaping business. She loves gardening, going out on the water, has always been active and energetic.
Today I saw her for the first time since the news and I was so struck by how fleeting time is, how precious the gift we are to one another is, how deeply we love one another... so many thoughts and emotions as we visited.
I've always been the one out of shape, out of commission, struggling to be active and to participate in gatherings and activities with family /friends. I am lucky that the medical issues I contend with each day are relatively simple and while they are very time consuming, I am able to live without much pain, I am able to improve physically if I take the time and make the effort to exercise and strengthen my body, particularly my legs, Any healthy weight loss contributes to improving the quality of my day to day living. Too often I get bogged down with discouragement and impatience.
Today I am determined to improve myself and do all I can to be stronger, healthier, more able to live an active life. When my PT arrived for her home visit today I was outside, having walked to the mailbox and back. I told her I'd like to start working on getting into our car on the driver's side so that I can resume driving and have more mobility and independence. It took me 10-14 minutes to get in on the driver's side, but i finally did succeed. getting out was easier but still took about 8 minutes. My PT and I went over specific exercises that will help me strengthen the muscles and flexibility of my feet and legs so that the next time it'll be easier for me to ge in the car. Once I am able to get in and out I will work on some basic driving with a friend of mine who is a driver rehab specialist -
I haven't driven in over a year and a half. My wife really should not be driving, so regaining this skill is very important for us both.
I have made some daily goals and am working on developing some additional supports. The home health care agency has a nutritionist and I've requested to meet with her and go over my diet - food plans. She called today to make an appointment. A nurse comes 1-2x week to check my leg, my lymphdema and the areas on my leg that are fairly open and weeping a lot. I've been having recurring yeast infections on my leg because of he constant wetness - the wound care nurse specialist came last week and made some suggestions for new dressings and methods that we hope will significantly reduce the wetness.
Part of me feels so devastated, aching and angry that my sister has this cancer- I want to crawl in a hole with her and pull a blanket over our heads and hide from the world. The rest of me is gearing up for a battle. A battle to pull myself together and take better care of myself. Each day to take simple steps, meet my goals and build on them. I wan to be able to visit my sister, to get around, to drive and be independent that way. To feel physically stronger and reduce my pain. To be more accepting of my illness and grateful that I am not contending with cancer or other illnesses that have little hope of improvement or cure.
I am fighting for quality of life. I am fighting to be heard - by MYSELF more than anyone else.
I am praying for healing, for hope, for perseverance and strength for my sister, for myself, for everyone in my family.
I am grateful for this wonderful community here at Spark, for the many many supports and positive aspects in my life, for my 3 brothers and 2 sisters, my mom, for good friends. I am so richly blessed.