My mother is considering the additional chemotherapy offer these days, after her 2nd breast cancer op. How much is she willing to go through for an extra 10 per cent to survive until 80?
Those are the statistics – the chances in statistics-world rise, in her situation and at her age from 60 to 70 per cent of being alive 10 years after. The price is 18 weeks of chemo during winter when my mother usually does not feel very well mentally and emotionally.
On the one hand you could see this as a necessary choice to increase your chances, if your belief in chances is what you have to steer choices.
Then there is, psychologically, the after-effect which might – just might – ease her mind more in the time she does have left on this Earth. She did all she could. She walked through fire (there’s a ritual there, too). She can move on now … better.
But that is not guaranteed. Nothing is.
Her survival +10 per cent is not guaranteed, although statistically it will be those 10 per cent higher.
Her ease of mind as measured in ease-of-mind-points is not guaranteed to be better, over time, than if she had not done chemo.
And my ease of mind certainly isn’t. I dread 4 months of trying to do baby, earn money, trying to do better with Char under pressing conditions and to find some good, some fun, some light in addition to experience which will make it all worth it, so to speak. And then be support for my mother, or part of her support system – but also concern myself more with her, and worry.
I dread that, and ultimately it is egoistic, but there you have it. As it was a month ago when she was first diagnosed I am simply fed up and want relief from stress. But it is’t forthcoming. The only thing that is worth remembering here, after all, is that this is a better scenario than if the cancer had spread, and maybe was veering towards the terminal phase. This is a precaution with a price-tag. It is not an attempt to save a life on the edge – not yet.
I guess as my mother moves closer to her decision, and seemingly closer to choosing the short-term hard path (chemo), I have to move closer to accepting that decision, too. And the responsibility that comes with it. Nothing has changed in principle.
I still wanted to spend more time with her, at least on the phone (due to the distances) to be supportive of her attempt to focus on something else after her op. Now I very well might to give support to focus on something else, but for different reasons – because of the fire of the chemo. I have to give support in many ways, and I’m not sure which is the best, or how best to protect myself in this.
Perhaps I should talk to MN, whose father is also undergoing chemo, and who has had to deal with a chronically ill mother for years now. I know he wants to talk about other things to rejuvenate and so do I, but we should also use each other for support in this matter, now that our situations are so alike.
Whatever the case, if this goes the way I think it will go, I will have to educate myself soon on chemo in my mother’s situation. That is a part of easing tension and stress – to get more knowledge, although knowledge can also cause new stress.
And then I have to figure out all the rest.
My only consolation right now, and it is worth focusing on, is that as I write this I do feel a certain intuition – like I felt an intuition, seemingly, last month that I should let go and that my mother would survive.
I do feel a certain intuition in this case that it is the right choice, all things considered – for my mother to do chemo. And then I will just have to figure out all things I will have to figure out about where and how I can walk with her on that fire path, and where I should protect myself and be attentive to my own path, and the family.
The void of unanswered questions is deep – of what will happen and how to go about it. But that little feeling is worth focusing on. The sense that it is, after all, the right thing to do.
Because uncertainty is an enemy, much more so than any illness.