August 30: Day 91

Cancer: something evil or malignant that spreads destructively.
One definition. 

 a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis.
Same word, another definition.

In these 91 days of fleeting stability, yet crystal clear, beautiful moments of absolute presence, I know one thing to be true: the former definition is much, much more destructive than the latter, and yet they are equally deadly.

There are no adequate words to describe what happens when 'the cancer' takes over; 'the cancer' being the literal cancer or the metaphoric one. 

Mom won the shitty cancer lottery from diagnosis. 
We felt this week what happens when the metaphoric one takes charge. It was akin to what I imagine living through a tornado to be; sucking up inadvertently every ounce of anything positively vibrating in its path. 


Three days ago we learned that the tumor marker and the liver function numbers were right back at diagnosis day levels. The doctor, wanting to weigh this information against the other two elements I describe in my previous post, ordered a CT. 

The three days in between are this: panic, pain, sadness, literal madness; an attempt at sinking fingernails into concrete. 

Today, we set the sails back straight. 

The CT showed that there is no significant tumor growth. In fact, there are signs that some of the smaller liver tumors have shrunk. The primary tumor remains the same size, however, it has changed forms to something akin to liquid magma. (Kidding, I really just wanted to see if anyone was still reading.) 

The Nexavar has, indeed, morphed the primary tumor to a liquid form, which is 'sometimes' a side effect. To the trained physician, this means the drug is still working. 

The tricky part of the equation is that there is not a clear cut formula to dictate next steps. There are no absolutes. What we do know, however, is that given the advanced state and Mom's type of cancer, the next-step treatment options are extremely limited and there are no guarantees they'll work. So to paraphrase (like a redneck), there ain't no sense quitting what's not broke!

So we march on, another month, same verse. 

Mom fully realizes after a few tough moments and conversations that she let her monkey mind win these past three days, if only for a few fleeting moments. 

Our job is to ensure it doesn't win the war. 

The way she feels right now is the new normal. 

Rather than trying to win a medal for being 'she who endured the most pain,' she needs to take control and manage it. 
Similarly, she needs to take control of her mind. I told her today that nearly every time I've had the stomach flu in my adult life, she's lectured me immediately after I stopped hurling that I needed to get myself up, go outside, take a big ole breath, and start somewhere. That I would feel better if I just left the house.

It's time she took her own advice.