bladder cancer

Mom has not been feeling well the past few weeks.  She went for her regular blood checkup last week.  They said they found blood in her urine.  The doc on duty said that it was probably cancer in the bladder.  I’m not sure how accurate a non-cancer specialist could be in this diagnosis.  Mom seems to think it’s true.  She’ll go Wednesday at 9:00am to see her regular doctor to talk about the test.

I mentioned to her that sometimes people have their bladder taken out; some discreetly carry around a bag with them.  She said there’s no way that she would survive surgery.  I also suggested that they may have a very effective treatment – no one knows until she sees the doctor.

I’ll keep everyone posted.

from 4 to 3 pills

Mom decided to reduce her cancer pills from 4 per week to 3.  Why?  She’s saying that she has no energy, that she’s tired all the time.  Floyd suggested to try 3 for one week then 4 the next and back to 3, etc.  Just a quick update.  I’ll keep everyone posted.

no biopsy

Mom has decided that a biopsy is not going to happen.  The risks are too great.  There is a small chance that an infection or pneumonia would take hold, and there is no way should would survive that.  The biopsy would only tell whether another medication would be useful to her or not.

But her current meds seem to be working still.  She is now on her cancer-fighting medication four times a week.  She can’t possibly do seven because it robs her of energy.  Quality of life is not laying down for hours at a time during the day and having no energy to get up.  So this is good balance for her.  She was so worried about telling Floyd and me her decision, but we support her.

Her X-ray shows that a large piece of cancer has shrunken down to a size that can’t be detected by X-ray.  Of course, it’s still there, but it’s certainly diminished in size since her previous X-ray.  I don’t know when her next CT Scan or X-ray will be.

Her mornings are still slow.  It takes her a while to get going.  She asks for help in getting food.  Floyd and I get what she wants, although both her taste and appetite aren’t really there much.  She gets hungry, but after a few bites she says she can’t eat much.  “Not too much,” she states with nearly every meal.  I joke with her, saying that she says it pretty much every time.  Something to laugh at.

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.