Monday, February 07, 2011

Chemotherapy thoughts (pt.1)

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 ...

Hmmm ... this is just the first step I guess.


Bellgirl said...

Hi Juddie, my thoughts are with you and your mum. It might sound a bit trivial at the moment, but does your mum have John Brookes' Garden Design Handbook? Some nice drafting pens and protractors, a scetch pad and some graph paper might be a good distraction during and after her treatments. Thinking of you all.

Juddie said...

Hi Annabel,

Thank you ... A lovely thought! I know she has a few John Brookes books (signed editions, as she met him at a talk a few years ago). She was saying today that she's sad she won't be able to help me plant up my new garden but I'm sure she could help with the design and lots of advice.

Looking forward to catching up with you some time this year,

xx J

Elizabeth. said...

All the best to you and you mum and your family, Juddie. Cancer is tough on everybody! My mother found not being able to work hard too, and it took her a long time to stop feeling restless and like she needed to always be doing things! After her recovery she went back to work, but only part-time, and now she and my father are living in Tanzania while she works with schools to help improve standards of teaching - something she has wanted to do for years. Thinking of you. xx

flowerpress said...

I'm so sorry, that such a lot to take in for both of you. A scary journey ahead. And I can't imagine not being able to garden, my great sympathies to your Mum.
Can she take on an apprentice or work experience person to do the physical work and direct them?

Jennifer said...

Another voice of concern, and comfort, and healing hope. Creative people are always, fully, truly creative; I think that means, just as you're thinking, that the answers will come and the opportunities will be invented and explored. I hope the business sale can happen quickly so that one worry is gone, and that you take care not only of your mum but of yourself, too.

Juddie said...

Thank you so much for all your kind wishes!

♥ w o o l f ♥ said...

my thoughts (and heart) are with you both.

... also ...

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