Monday, January 16, 2012
It has been awhile since we have sent out an update on Bruce and Barbara. Lots of things have been happening and I apologize for what may be a glitch in communication.
As you recall the cancer came back and this time it came back in the form of a large tumor on mom’s brain. Surgery occurred in November and she has been recovering well since then. Her speech has improved and is back to normal, a huge relief to her as it was an obvious sign that something was wrong. Her eyesight, as mentioned, will not improve. I do all the driving for both of them now as neither one can drive. Initially following the surgery mom was having ocular hallucinations which are no longer occurring. They were a little unsettling to those of us around her but Mom thought they were pretty entertaining so we laughed with her when she saw a team of large white horses and a carriage drive past their second-story apartment window. And when she saw Santa Claus on top of the train they can see outside their window we joined her in waving to Santa. Small Needless to say we had our own little meltdowns after that and away from her. But they are no longer happening – a side effect of the medication required to keep the swelling of the brain controlled. She is no longer leaning further to the right than usual although she still requires a cane and someone close by to catch her should she loose her balance. Dad has been trained on how to do that and because his Alzheimer’s makes him more OCD than normal, you bet that Dad is always there, in position, ready to catch her. He’s doing a great job.
So mom had a CTScan today and the scan has detected five new clusters of cancer in various areas of the brain. Three near the skull and two deeper down inside. The doctor is confident that the cyber knife will eradicate these cells. But here’s the problem: we knew this was a very aggressive cancer from the beginning. It’s smart. It can adapt and move around and even hide out. She had a scan mid-December that showed absolutely no clusters and no cancer in the brain (after the surgery). Four weeks later there are 5 clusters, two of which are 3 mm in size. They will do cyber knife probably the first of three sessions later this week. The side effects are tired and possible hair loss. They will do another scan 4 to six weeks after that procedure.
Here’s the plan right now. Each time a cluster appears we’ll attack it with the cyber knife. If a large cluster or too many clusters appear at one time (we haven’t chosen a magic number yet) than complete brain radiation would be the next choice. We’re not crazy about that option either is mom. Complete brain radiation can lead to a plethora of issues. At that point it becomes a matter of quality of life vs quantity.
Mom is a fighter. Fortunately right now because of the medication she’s on to keep the brain swelling down from the surgery she seems to be not 100% aware of the importance of today’s findings. I’m in a hard spot lately and am trying hard to cope. Mom’s short-term memory is very weak and when she gets things wrong and is corrected, she gets very combative. Today she was told there were five new clusters. When I addressed it with her 4 hours later she said there were three. When I told her there were five she got combative and told me to get my facts straight. It now comes down to how to manage things when information is re-arranged in mom’s head. Do I try to keep up with her and convince her she right? That’s hard to do because it changes frequently and is next to impossible to keep up with. Do I stick with the truth at all times even though it makes her frustrated and combative? I’m not sure how to handle that situation and will be continuing to research and pray about it. I promised mom I would tell her the truth the entire time and not hold anything back from her. But when push comes to shove – do you go back on your word for the emotional well-being of all involved or do you stick with the truths. Surely there is a fine line between what we share and what doesn’t need to be shared. That, my friends, is one of the most difficult fine lines I have ever tried to find. I haven’t found it yet and possibly may never find it. I pray that Mom continues to know (and so far she does) how much she is loved and that we are doing everything in our power to help her fight this.