Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Sunday Phone Call

You ever get news that leaves a lump in your throat and a sick feeling in your stomach? With both my parents in their 80s now, I dread it all the time. But I -- and they -- have been fortunate in their good health and good minds.

But the Sunday phone call with my mother left a small lump in my throat.

"I had a mammogram, and they called and said they wanted me to come back in for another one," she said in between news of my stepfather's latest fall and other family gossip.

Why do they want to do that? I queried.

"I don't know. Maybe it was blurry," she replied.

Or maybe there was a shadow, I added.

She was supposed to go yesterday, and I said I'd call her today. She didn't go yesterday because it was snowing and 4 degrees below 0 where she lives (Wyoming). Her doctor's office called her today to say they'd found a "nodule" on her right breast and what did she want to do about it. She said she didn't know why she'd been called back in and she'd have to think about it. She's going on Thursday (weather permitting, I assume) for another mammogram and a sonogram.

I felt the lump in my throat rising and the sick feeling in my stomach growing. It's inevitable that I will lose my parents, that they will die of something at some time, probably sooner rather than later. But not this way, I pray. I want them to go the way their mothers went -- quickly, with little pain.

It's very early in the diagnostic process. The biopsy will follow the mammogram and sonogram, no doubt. And then what? I don't know. This is uncharted territory for me. I know people who have had breast cancer. I have a friend whose mother died of it. I have another friend who's had it twice. Pixie has had it. It's not that uncommon, I suppose. But I think for each woman who has had it, it's an uncommon experience.

My mind is already racing ahead, wondering if I should visit at Easter instead of the summer. But I must stay in the here and now. And right here, right now I have a lump in my throat and a sick feeling in my stomach.


laurie said...

oh, my dear, please don't worry. finding a nodule is not a death sentence--even for an older woman.

i've been down this breast cancer road with many, many women i am close to. yes, my sister died--but she died because she ignored the lump and waited until the cancer had moved into her bones before she saw a doctor.

even then, she lived seven more years.

i pray that your mother will be fine, but i also believe that she will. she'll probably have to undergo some sort of surgery. if it hasn't spread, they might not even subject her to chemo, because of her age.

of course you worry. it's your mother, and you're far away. i'd make the trip earlier rather than later--not because she won't be around for the later trip, but because it will ease your mind and make you both happy.

good luck to you. try not to worry. i hope you hear good news soon.

Expatmum said...

Oh dear. How worrying. The good thing about doctors in the States is they tell you everything - sometimes too much but at least you don't feel you're left in the dark. I hope the outcome is not as bad as you fear.

ChrisB said...

I do hope things turn out well for your mother. I agree with what Laurie says about the earlier trip. It would be good for both of you.
Do you know here in the UK they stop doing the 3yrly routine mammograms when you get to 70 and this really worries me.

Beckie said...

I came by looking for Fun Monday and saw this post. I totally understand the lump in your throat.

I will put you on my bloglines so I can follow along.

Wishing you the best.

Kaycie said...

We went through breast cancer and two mastectomies, one radical, with my mother-in-law. Her lump was hidden deep in the breast and was fairly large when they found it. Both breasts were taken because of her history (breast cancer in the 70s). That was ten years ago. She'll be 71 in April and has done wonderfully.

Go see your mother as soon as you can, within reason. It will be good for both of you.

I'll be thinking of you, sweetie, and hoping everything is ok.

Flowerpot said...

I do feel for you, but as Laurie says, this is not a death sentence - it's so easily treatable particularly if it's caught so early. And I agree - I;d go and see her pronto.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

laurie: Logically, I tell myself that it's not a death sentence. I, too, know many women who have had breast cancer and are still around today living productive lives. I think it's just the worry that she's so far away, and none of us is near enough to be there. It could just be a lump. But she did take Premarin for many years, and she is overweight and has a high-fat diet.

expatmum: Unfortunately, telling me not to worry is like telling me not to breathe. But thank you for your good thoughts.

chrisb: That is worrying about the UK. The mother of a good friend of mine had breast cancer in her late 70s. She had the surgery and tamoxifen and was told they got it all. They didn't. It came back in her bones. I don't what my point is about this tale except that it could happen to anyone at any time, and 70 is still a young age for many people.

beckie: Thank you.

kaycie: There are many stories like your mother-in-law's, and I will try to keep them in mind. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

flowerpot: Breast cancer isn't the death sentence it used to be, thank God. But doesn't it seem far more prevalent? I'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

J said...

Oh, goodness.

From what you have said about your mother, she has a lot of fight in her, and that will serve her well - regardless of what the nodule is or isn't.

If it is cancer - and hopefully it's not - please let me know if I can help. My husband is an oncologist and although breast cancer is not his specialty, if we can help you understand what is happening...

Hang in there.

Kelly said...

How very worrying for you... and no doubt frustrating that you can't do anything. One step at a time. Thinking of you, and your mum. xx

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

j.: thank you very much for your kind words and offer of advice. We shall see what the outcome is.

kelly: thank you for thinking of me.

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

I hope everything turns out ok. I would absolutely hate it if it was my mum, being so far away from her.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

VI:Thanks. Being so far away is the most difficult part, I think.

Swearing Mother said...

Wakeup, exactly the same thing happened with my Mum and she got over it fine and lived many more years.

I'd go and see her early just because you want to, and for the joy of it, if you can. Being so far away can't make anything like this any easier, so go if you can.


Expatmum said...

Oh no - I didn't mean to tell you not to worry! I know you'll worry -we all would.
I forgot to say that my mother-in-law (in the States) had one of the "watch and wait" situations which turned into a mastectomy, but she has been clean now for 7 years and because they cut everything out, they are saying that she is as much at risk as anyone else. It really isn't a death sentence, but for your peace of mind you should go see her earlier.

Queen Vixen said...

Oh Wakeup. I feel for you, I really do. It is uncharted territory for you and for me - my parents are still in their 60s but the nagging thought that they wont be here for ever is already knocking on the door of my consciousness. Follow your heart - Easter may be the best thing.

Thinking of you x

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

SM: Thank you for that reassurance. I'm hoping for the best.

expatmum: Of course you didn't tell me not to worry. I'm thinking I might try to go when or if she has to have surgery.

QV: As if worrying about our children isn't enough, then there's our parents. I will try to follow my heart, thank you.

Queeny said...

Oh Wake Up, I sincerely hope that all turns out well for your mother. I can only imagine the fear that has gripped you and will likely torment you in the days to come. My thoughts and prayers are with you.