change of meds, biopsy

Mom has a chance to change her meds.  She’s skipped about a week of Tarceva to regain some energy.  That stuff really tires her out; she’d been taking it 7 days / week lately.  But that could change if she decides to go ahead with the med change.

However, it means she must go in for a biopsy to determine if the new meds would be suitable for the type of cancer in her lungs.  One doctor says there is a 5% chance (one in twenty) that should would not come through the procedure.  Pneumonia or infection could set in.  This initially scared Mom, and she decided, “No way” would she go through this.

Even then, they still have to test if the meds will work well on this cancer.  They’re thinking that the cancer may have morphed into another type and that this med would be of more benefit.

But upon reflecting on all of this, she thinks she’d like to talk with her regular doctor, Dr. Oviatt, about this.  Her next appointment is Nov. 28th.  I’ll keep you posted.

visit from A&C

Angela / Aizlylnn and Caleb were here visiting Mom for a few days.  Of course, Mom was pretty happy about this.  They visited, played cards, went to Tony Roma’s for ribs.  Angela & Caleb sang for her.  (Caleb says, “No YouTube!”)  During the times Mom was resting, or before she got up, I went with them to Starbucks, etc. to talk, take pictures, shop for stuff.  Good visit all-round.  Mom says she only wishes they could stay longer.


Mom has been sleeping in the daytime much more these days than before.  “I don’t know why,” she says.  Since her fall in the tub a few months ago, she’s been tired and has taken naps more often.

Today I got in at 5:30PM and found out from Floyd that she’d been asleep “for quite a while.”

The evening before yesterday she walked to bed, not needing Floyd to push her in her office chair.  “I just forgot and did it myself,” she said yesterday, quite happy with herself.  Good!

So it’s one step forward and one step back.

update, chest pain

Mom seems to do well these days.  She made gravy from Sunday’s turnkey dinner.  She’s walking back and forth more.  Unfortunately, she had chest pains this morning that lasted 45 minutes.  Level: 10.  <sigh>  Not good.  But this doesn’t happen very often.  Here are Mom & Floyd watching Jeopardy on TV.

Mom’s voice & hearing, age

I’ve noticed that Mom’s voice is very crackly now.  She doesn’t have the lung power to push her voice out normal.  She feels badly about this and knows that, since her fall, things like this have been creeping up.  Yesterday we talked about this.  She can feel that things are very different, going downhill, as they say.

Yet, having said that, she is able to walk more without help (being wheeled across the house in her office chair), and she even made supper last night.  Meatloaf, asparagus, and mashed potatoes, if you want to know.  Floyd mashed the potatoes though.  That would be beyond what she can do.  Since her fall in the tub, she’s not made muffins or supper or my lunches for college (something she still so badly wants to do).

Mom’s hearing is not what it used to be either.  Her left ear is weak.  Even when talking in what I would call a normal voice in front of her, she still has trouble.  I think the TV is louder these days, too.

No change in the cancer situation.  She’s still on Tarceva daily.

How do I put this without sounding brash.  Well, just say it.  I’ve told her years ago that I thought she would die of old age, not of cancer.  I maintain this is true.  And she is now 81.  Then again, her mom lived to 93, so I believes she has a long while yet to go before she gives up.  …  It might sound brash to say so, but she says that she herself doesn’t feel bad about that.

home again

Mom is home again.  She came back yesterday afternoon.  She seems to have not been too impressed this time by the lack of, well, whatever she was expecting.  The doctor previously made it seem as though she should bet pumped up there – nutrition, hydration, rest, etc. – but this never happened.  It seems communication between the admitting doctor and the nurses and staff didn’t happen.

One nurse actually took Mom’s meds away saying, “You don’t need these now.”  Now, when a nurse says your meds are no longer needed it’s because one of two things – you’re doomed or you’re cured.  So obviously I (Justin) thought the worst.

As it turns out, so far as I know, the doctors were considering keeping Mom on Tarceva, her regular cancer meds, or switching up to a new form called …  We just looked for it.  It was thrown away.  Can’t remember what it was called, but it was the newest version of the cancer drug available now.

When – not if, but when – Tarceva stops being effective, this other drug will be used.  So it could be that the docs weren’t entirely sure what to do just yet.  But to be told in the hospital by nursing staff that you won’t be needing them, this seems a little tactless.

Mom’s eating lots.  I made steak, broiled potato cubes, and corn for lunch, and all three of us ate.  Mom seems to be eating more than she was a few weeks ago.  Her weakness in walking and other tasks is still there, but I don’t think it’s as bad as before.

She’s happy to be home but still complains about being tired.

cancer unchanged, hospital

Mom is now in hospital again.  She was hoping to admit herself into hospital to gain some strength, a ‘boost’ so-to-speak.  Floyd and I were talking about this.  The last time she tried this, she wanted to leave the next day.  No, she wasn’t tired there, but all she did was lie in bed and get up to use the washroom now and then – virtually no exercise, no activities (Wal-Mart, Tim Hortons), no real choice in foods, no snacks for when she gets hungry, and no family around her, and no sleeping at home.  What will she gain in hospital?  I’m not altogether sure.  I hope she gains strength and weight while she is there.

She had her checkup with Dr. Brigdon, her cancer doctor, and he said the cancer is unchanged since last time.  It might sound good at first glance, but she’s been on Tarceva seven days a week and was hoping the cancer would have decreased in size considerably; it did not.  But this is only from X-ray, and X-ray doesn’t really show a lot of detail.

Mom says she cannot go on seven days per week of Tarceva anymore.  It tires herself out too much.  It robs her of energy.  She says she’ll go four or five but not seven.

I’ll update everyone when I know more.  I (Allan) will not see her this evening, but Floyd will.

cancer update, hospital or not

Mom saw her doctor today.  Here are some results.

The cancer has decreased a little, enough to be noticeable by X-rays.  This is the result of being on Tarceva (cancer meds) 7 days a week now.

The home care nurse a few days ago said that there’s a new cancer drug similar to Tarceva called Osimertinib and that, should there come a point in time (and it apparently will come) that the Tarceva isn’t effective anymore, Osimrtinib might be the thing to try next.

She is usually pretty good when she goes in to see him, but this time she “was like a rag doll,” she said.  The doctor, upon seeing her like this, suggested she should go into hospital to get some strength back.

While staff were looking for a bed, she & Floyd talked and came to the conclusion that being admitted probably wouldn’t do any good.  She’s getting care – help to various places in the house, help with meds, food whenever she wants, company (Floyd & myself), gets out of the house now and then (Wal-Mart, etc.), and exercise enough to keep her going.  She wouldn’t necessarily get any of those things in hospital to the same degree as at home.

True, she wasn’t tired at all while in hospital, but she wasn’t doing anything either.  Besides, last time she went in to get stronger, she wanted to leave the next day, although she doesn’t remember this.

So, the doctor will call Wednesday of next week to see if she’s changed her mind.  But for now she’s at home.