~~By Grail Guardian
We all know that 2008 has been a very trying year for all of us; the devastating election season, rampant misogyny and racism, the trampling of the Constitution, the endless betrayals of Congress and the President, the collapse of the world economy, the horrific tragedy of Bettyjean Kling and her family, the list seems to go on and on. For me there has been an added trial. This summer, my mother came down with what she described as a stomach bug. She was tired, weak, and couldn’t hold down solid food. After 2 weeks of applesauce and Jell-O we dragged her kicking and screaming to the doctor, and an ultrasound scan revealed she had gall stones. Or so we thought. After what was supposed to be simple laproscopic surgery, she emerged from the operating room with a ten inch abdominal incision and a diagnosis of aggressive gall gladder cancer.
What made this diagnosis especially awful is that about 40 years ago, she had developed Hodgkins Disease (cancer of the lymph nodes). At the time of her diagnosis, medical science was still a bit backward (although I’m personally not convinced we’ve come that far) and she underwent some of the first chemo and radiation therapy used to fight cancer. The ordeal she went through was indescribably awful; the primitive nitrogen-mustard chemo left her unable to life her own head and the radiation left her with disrupted balance and co-ordination, scar tissue, and brittle bones for the rest of her life. But she defied the medical community and lived. Though confined to a wheelchair and unable to do simple things like drive or put a holiday turkey in the oven, she eventually went on to go horseback riding, bowling, scuba diving, and even skiing!
Her life had been transformed, but she lived as normally as she could until she started to slow down again this summer. The surgeon was able to remove most of the cancerous mass, but there was a small bit in her liver that was inoperable. Although I know she was terrified by the memory of her first experience, after the oncologist assured her that they used much gentler stuff these days she summoned her strength and agreed to try chemo and radiation again. The doc was truthful – it was less obnoxious, producing some nausea and extreme weakness and tiredness, but nothing like the first time. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, we discovered it also hadn’t worked.
The day the doc delivered the news, I was (needless to say) a bit overwhelmed. Winter in upstate NY is not for the faint of heart or body, and even the short trek to the cancer center left her cold and tired. She and Dad drove home (Dad said she had slept a bit on the drive over, but I seriously doubt she did on the way back). I finished out the work day in a stupor and headed for home totally disheartened. As my mind raced with thoughts of what we could do next (the doc wasn’t optimistic about alternate forms of chemo, and she told us the side effects would be much worse), I climbed the stairs and found a box sitting outside my door. It was my own little holiday miracle in the making.
In the flurry of medical activity of the week, I had forgotten that our very own Kenosha Marge had e-mailed me a few days earlier to tell me she was sending me a Christmas gift. I opened the box to find a delightful custom-made InsightAnalytical shopping bag and an absolutely wonderful warm and fuzzy fleece IA hat. My first thought was my mother. I knew the hat would be perfect for her! She absolutely loved it, and when we met for a family breakfast a few days later she showed it off to everyone, being sure they noticed the InsightAnalytical embroidered on the brim. She’s never been to the site, and I’m quite sure she didn’t know what IA was, but she pointed it out and made all her friends read it. She kept it on through breakfast and fought with Dad every time he tried to adjust it or get her to take it off.
I sent Marge an e-mail to thank her for her wonderful gifts, and told her I hoped she didn’t mind that I planned on lending the hat to my mother. Well, not only didn’t Marge mind, she immediately responded that she had a Christmas hat that was much prettier that she was sending. (In Marge’s words:” Most of us gals feel a little better knowing that we look better.”) Within a day or so, she e-mailed me again to let me know that not only was the Christmas hat on the way, but 2 others as well! It seems Marge has made hats previously for others with cancer and she had some extras. My mother was quite grateful and delighted! She hasn’t had the chance to wear them all out yet (we got a couple feet of snow here yesterday, so the parents are staying housebound for a bit), but I wanted to do something special to thank Marge for her generosity, talent, and friendship. So now IA readers can get an exclusive view of Marge’s Hatbatty Hats, modeled by Grail Mama:
In case you’re wondering, we’ve decided to try an herbal remedy called Graviola, and in January hope to see specialist Dana Flavin König (highly recommended by my cousin Christina).
So again, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Kenosha Marge and to GRL (who has also been very supportive to me personally) for doing their share to make the season bright! And I don’t want to forget American Lassie and Leslie, who also have been great friends in our IA community!
Whatever holiday(s) you may celebrate (if any at all), I want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Filed under: Life | Tagged: alternative remedies, American Lassie, BettyJean Kling, chemotherapy, gall bladder cancer, gall stones, Grail Guardian, Graviola, herbal remedies, Hodgkins Disease, InsightAnalytical, kenosha Marge, Leslie IA Chicago Correspondent, misogyny, racism, radiation therapy, the Constitution, ultrasound, winter upstate New York | 14 Comments »