It has been a while since I updated everyone on Mom's progress. She recovered well after her mastectomy in August. Since that time she has had two more "big" chemo treatments, her latest (and hopefully last) was on Tuesday. She had an allergic reaction to the final drug, but luckily she and a friend realized it before she got the full dosage. They stopped that drug, pumped her with benedryl, fluids, and steroids and all was well (as well as can be following chemo). She's feeling pretty tired and worn down, but with the hope that this was the final treatment, she also feels optimistic. She will have to continue herceptin treatments until about next May, but she's been told the side effects won't knock her down the way these past treatments have. She will have a hysterectomy in November and after she heals from that she'll working her way back up to her super Grandma D strength.
I'm learning October can be a tough month for those with cancer. You can't look anywhere without a pink reminder staring back at you. For some it's a reminder of their prognosis, recent diagnosis, or a loved one they lost to breast cancer. Mom was diagnosed the week of Mother's Day. Do you know how many "feel good" stories are about moms and cancer during Mother's Day week? A lot. And for a daughter facing the unknown, each story seemed to bring sadness for me, not hope. I can only guess that October is much the same. And for people dealing with other types of cancer, it's a reminder that their illness is not getting the public's attention, and therefore possibly research dollars, as their mammary counterpart. I can make many a critique of the "pink movement" and various companies that use it as a marketing and PR tool that doesn't actually give money towards helping cancer patients. And I have to be honest that I don't know what to do with that discomfort in all the companies that profit off of this illness that is mixed with the connection I feel with my mom when I put on my "Volley for the Cure" tshirt last night. Or how proud my kids were when they wore their pink socks to school yesterday, the ones Grandma D gave them at our Christmas in August.
For today, that discomfort makes me become aware of where my dollars are going when I contribute to something related to any type of cancer (making sure the money is going to help actual people or that it is fully going to cancer research). It makes me aware of the people for whom the pink ribbon doesn't bring hope. Yet it also makes me thankful for the research and progress that has been made, however small. We didn't know it at the time, but mom was Stage III with an estrogen positive and HER-2 positive tumor. The chemo concoction that shrunk the tumor was only very recently (within the past year) approved for use. My true hope is that more actual dollars can go into research for finding cures for all types and stages of cancer...that is my grown up October wish.