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I went with mum last week to visit her oncologist. It had been about 6 weeks since her previous visit. Early in the year regular chemo was scheduled for her, but after each dose her blood levels went into meltdown. Every week she would have her blood tested to see if her blood had recovered sufficiently to begin the chemo again: every week the answer was no. The result was that even though we're nearly halfway through the year mum has only had three sessions of chemo when 12-15 might have been expected.
The last time we saw the doctor he agreed to pause any attempt at chemo to ensure that mum recovered sufficiently to begin again. Mum is crook enough without picking up an infection in her weakened state. And the chemo, unsurprisingly, knocks her around.
It's been about 8 weeks then since mum had any chemo and she's felt as good as ever. Going in to see the doctor last Wednesday she considered telling him to hold off the chemo, or at least space it out. It's the old balancing act, quality of life versus quantity. You want to hang on to life, but it has to be a meaningful life. I understood, though proferred no opinion - it's a decision only she can make.
As it turned out it's what the doctor ended up suggesting without any prompting from us. It seemed pretty common-sense. There's no guarantee that the chemo is doing much, and if you're doing well then why change it? We agreed to meet again in another 6 weeks, with the proviso that if anything changes before then that we come in again and review the situation.
It's still very hard to comprehend that mum has cancer she will die from. She seems pretty well. She shows few outward signs of it. And she's been my mother all my life: how can that possiubly cease?
Last night she rang sounding terrible. I could barely understand her. I gathered she had a serious cough and cold blown up out of nowhere. The sub-text clearly was the question as to whether it was cancer related? You can't presume that I told her. That's my line, keep it calm, keep it reasonable. It's been a cold and wet month and colds are not uncommon.
I spoke to her again this morning. She sounds no better and reports pains in her stomach. She is going to her GP. I don't know what to think. At the back of your mind is the nagging thought that it could be the cancer. It's almost the easiest thing to believe because it looms so large in your mind. And I am reminded how quickly things can change. Whether this is just a cold or something more the point is the same. It's just around the corner, and the corner may come a lot sooner than you think.