Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Big C

"Life is a pain in the ass. l´ll tell ya. You know? You work hard, try to provide for the family, and then, for one minute,everything´s good. Everyone´s well. Everyone´s happy. ln that one minute, you have peace."

"Pop, this isn´t that minute."             -

--While You Were Sleeping

I'm going to have to take a break from my usual coverage of food, travel adventures, parties, and other frivolous fun in the life of Maggie. Oh, and cupcakes. I unfortunately have to break from the usual cupcake coverage. 

Because right now there's actually real life stuff happening. And by "real life stuff," I mean the kind of stuff that completely changes the course of how you live, think, and look at the world.

Now that I have you on pins and needles I'll just spit it out...my Mom has cancer.

I know, it sucks.

One day you're going about your life as usual, blogging about cupcakes, and then BAM. You get news that changes everything. For me, it was my Mom telling me that she had noticed a weird lump in her neck and had scheduled a biopsy. At this point, I did what most people would do. I freaked the fuck out. Kidding! I reassured myself that it was probably nothing and it was smart to get it checked out. Just in case.

I went with Mom to the biopsy and did my best to distract her with jokes and stories as I do. But in the back of my mind there was that tiny little voice that I do my best to ignore, "...what if it's something serious?"

And it turns out it was serious. I was on a work trip to West Virginia (ugh) when Mom called me with the biopsy results. I already knew it wasn't going to be good; I had emails from my friend Chris saying, "call your Mom as soon as you can" in addition to several missed calls from Mom on my cell phone. I looked at the phone before dialing it and thought, "this is the day I find out my Mom has cancer."

God, I hate being right all the time.

So, yes, the biopsy did not come back with good news. Basically, it indicated that the lump in Mom's neck was a mass on her lymph node consistent with metastasis from squamous cell carcinoma. That's skin cancer for all you science nerds out there. The next step is to figure out the primary site of the cancer. Even though it's technically skin cancer, SCC can actually occur almost anywhere in the body as epithelial cells are present all over. In cases like my Mom's, it's usually in the lungs or in some other chest or abdominal organ. But then her chest, abdominal, and pelvic CT came back normal.

This was not a good sign. If you can't locate the primary source of cancer it's known as "occult cancer." And it means that the doctors can't tailor the treatment to a specific area; they pretty much just have to zap your entire body with chemo and maybe radiation.

However, in the past week there have been positive developments. Mom had a PET scan that indicated the cancer was located in the throat. This area is very treatable and has an excellent prognosis. She is having an endoscopy later this week to confirm the location and then meeting with the oncologist later this month to figure out the next step. It's not a done deal until the endoscopy, but the PET scan/oncologist seemed pretty sure about the throat as the primary site so for now I am going to focus on the positive.

I think at this point though I am still working my way through all this. There's a long road ahead for sure and I need to focus on supporting Mom in whatever way I can. And while I have one of those feelings that everything is going to work out ok...this is all pretty scary. It makes you think thoughts like, "what would I do without my Mom?" and other terrible stuff that I am definitely not ready to handle. But thankfully I have an amazing group of friends and family who have already stepped up with love and support.

I'm trying to just focus on a "one step at a time" mode of attack. Though I know the coming weeks, months, and years are not going to be easy. But then, whoever said life was easy?

I will now return you to my usual nonsense blogging, because hey, who doesn't need a good distraction. And I will definitely keep you all updated on developments as they happen--but no news is good news as far as these things go.

And now here is a picture of my Mom with a beagle puppy. Because why not?

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