Apologies in advance - this post will actually just be a note of some of the things I've been milling over today (as I don't keep a diary, my blog sometimes helps me record my thoughts for later reference).
I went along to my mum's first oncology appointment today, and there was an awful lot of information to be absorbed. The oncologist was really lovely, taking her time to explain everything clearly and slowly, but for my mum I think it brought home the reality of her illness; she was very teary afterwards.
Mum's cancer is quite an unusual one, and unfortunately there's at least an 80% chance that it has already seeded into other parts of her body, so it needs a multifaceted attack of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone-blocking treatments. She'll start with 18 weeks of chemotherapy, then daily radiotherapy for another 6 weeks (starting 3 weeks after her last chemo round). She'll be exhausted.
I know the chemotherapy is her best chance for positive results, and that significant progress has been made in minimising nausea, promoting white blood cell growth etc., but it still looks set to turn my mum's world upside down for a while.
One of the most distressing things for her is that she won't be able to continue working, as she can no longer do any activities that require her to use her right hand/arm for anything but the lightest pressure. Her work is very physical, and although she wants to sell her business this year, she had hoped to continue with a part time career of basic garden maintenance and rose pruning. We're in a quandary as it is, as the nursery business still needs to be maintained until we can find a buyer and it's hard to manage this when she doesn't have the finances to pay for staff. Mum can't imagine what she'll do from now on - during the months of chemotherapy in particular she won't even be able to prune roses, as her immune system will be very weak, with a high risk of infection from any scratches or cuts.
The biggest thing is that these restrictions on her activity levels will continue for the rest of her life, which is hugely significant for someone who fills her days with active work. I'm trying to encourage her not to worry too much at this stage - it's a clichéd platitude I know, but we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. Maybe she could take up some study, or do some fundraising/charity work, or write a book ...