Friday, April 9, 2010

The decline.

Nearly 5 years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Small Cell Lymphoma. The diagnosis came about purely by accident. Grandma's dentures weren't fitting correctly and I took her to have them refit. When the dentist was inspecting why the change of fit, he found that grandma had a tumor on the roof of her mouth. He was slightly panicked and very animated when he was explaining his finding. He referred us to an oral surgeon and off we went.

Dr. B- thought that Grandma's growth was nothing. "I'm sure it is nothing, but I'm going to biopsy it just in case."

It came back malignant.

When consulting with the oncologist, he talked to Grandma about her cancer. "Is it going to kill me?" "Probably not. Something else probably will first." "How long do I have?" "Probably 10 years." "Oh, well, I'm 87 now and I can't imagine making it to 97 anyhow."

She was relieved. She was going to live a fullish Grandma life. She had radiation for a while which kind of messed with her tasties, goofed with her hair and made her noodle slightly soft. It's okay. It was nothing drastic.

Over the years, Grandma has done okay. They did put her on some Alzheimer's medications a few years ago and they made her ill. If there was a side effect listed, she suffered from it. Frankly, I think that the radiation that was given to her to shrink the growth on the roof of her mouth kind of cooked some of Grandma's brain.

Last summer, Grandma was having some issues. She kept falling, was ill and whatnot. She ended up having a urinary tract infection or something close to that, which landed her in a nursing home for some rehab.

Grandma never really bounced back from that.

Fast forward to now. A few weeks ago, my grandmother's health aide called to my aunt's attention a large sore that was in Grandma's mouth. She made an appointment to have it checked out. The oncologist gave Grandma the once over and discovered a growth in her right breast. He scheduled a biopsy.

My aunt called me today to bring me up to speed on what was going on. When the biopsy was mentioned, I asked that it be considered unnecessary. I also asked that though I am not legally in charge of Grandma's care, that radiation and chemotherapy be considered not an option.

I'm pleased to say that all are going to be skipped.

Grandma is 92 1/2. She has lived a very full life. Grandma has taken such a marked decline over the last 9 months, that I don't truly believe that any treatment at this point would buy her any quality of life. In fact, quantity of life would probably be diminished.

We rode this train with my aunt about a year and a half ago. My aunt died of brain cancer. More specifically, she died from a glioblastoma of the temporal lobe. When she was told that the cancer had started back up again, she chose to start chemotherapy again. She knew that chemotherapy was only going to buy her a minimal amount of time and that she was risking it putting her straight into a coma. While that didn't happen, I can tell you that if it bought her any time, it was truly only very minimal. She was still my aunt and I supported her decision. She made it of sound mind.

I'm sad that we are walking this road with Grandma. I called my sister, brother and mom and informed all of them of the change in Grandma's condition. Mom prayed with me. Our prayer? That Grandma not suffer.

Cancer sucks.

Smiles in my day:
- K- had a wonderful spring break play date with her friend, B-. We had a hike in a local park planned, but the rain came through and we rolled to our fall back-- McD's Play Place. Turns out that kids from both school and church rotated in and out during the 3 1/2 hours we stayed. She had so much fun and was one giant sweat ball when we left. I had her take a bath when we got home. She had to wash the Play Place and all of her hotness off.
- Going over K-'s childhood with her thus far to create her time line with her. My heavens, there were so many photo books and photo disks to go through. Wow.
- Mrs. Grass' "sick" noodle soup for dinner. K- ended up with a monster stomach ache this afternoon. I attribute it to drainage from the very high pollen count, but being on high alert for vomit (as you know K- is generally pretty prone), we opted for "sick crackers" (saltines) and "sick" noodle soup. The soup hit the spot.
- My seedlings went a little dry after a hot snap that we had this week. I watered them and talked to them. They perked back up and they are okay. Whew!
- A play date planned with my friend, Kim, and her two kids tomorrow. We'll swing by to see Grandma in the AM and have lunch with Kim and fam.

Have a great weekend!


Rach said...

I'm so sorry to read Grandma's cancer has spread. I think you all have made wise decisions regarding her care. It's so hard to let loved ones go. :o( I will pray Grandma doesn't suffer and is pain-free.

In other news, Lil still has a low-grade fever, but is otherwise well. The rain came and knocked all the pollen down and washed it away for a few days. Hooray! :o)

Anonymous said...

I'm tearing up as I write this, so I won't write much. I'm so sorry. I will pray for her.

Cancer does suck.


Michelle said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandma's declining health - it does sound like she has lived a very full life. Keeping her in my prayers for whatever time she may have left, and that the wonderful memories help see you through this time.

yes, cancer sucks.