We took a weekend trip to the beach in Puerto Vallarta last week. I’m not a beach person, I guess, but mom is, she loves the beach. She’s supposed to be out of the sun. May 1st of last year, she was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor told us she only had two months to live, that chemotherapy wasn’t even an option. As of today she’s been through 11 chemos since July 1st. It has been so hard, and I anally try to do everything by the book. I literally try to control the cancer. Obviously, it is literally impossible. All we can really do is please mom whatever time we have left, so the beach it is. We had a nice weekend, my parents, my daughters and my amazing husband who did everything to make this happen. us
She vomited every single night, not able to keep a whole meal down. As comfortable as the hotel was, I couldn’t sleep, my eyes wide open in the dark, transported me back to when I was in 3rd and 4th grade. My sinuses were out of control, and I had a terrible cough. My mom would come into my room at night, I would wake up in the darkness, startled, to my mother rubbing vaborub on my chest, as any Mexican mother does. She’d put a paper towel over my chest so that the vaporub wouldn’t cling to my night shirt. It was annoying at the time, but I know she was looking out for me. So that is what I would do, rub her back, her sides, her stomach, try to ease the pain, hold my arms around her chest while she vomited, while trying to hold back my tears.
Monday morning, the routine went back to normal; the girls resumed classes, my husband work in the Autonomous University of Nayarit, and I to filing taxes for the family businesses and my clients, and to making meals daily for my house and my parents. Despite all of this, I just can’t distract myself from the obvious. My mother called me frantically and said, ‘she couldn’t do it’. Chemo was coming up and she said she was too tired for it. It broke my heart, because I know she is desperate to be cured soon. The problem is the last oncologist we were seeing told us straight to our faces, “Martha, we are not going to cure your cancer, we are just here to try and contain it and control your pain. That is it”. It is still confusing to me whether I should be mad at this doctor for being so blunt, or thankful for being honest. But I have hopes.
One year ago we were told we had no chances. Every day I held my breath. We didn’t think she’d make it to august to see Chelsea start 6th grade, or to see Hilda start preschool. But she was there. Hilda’s 4th birthday in October? Done it. Chelsea’s first communion? Amazing, I honestly thought she wouldn’t be there for that, but she was. Chelsea’s 11 birthday? Yep. Christmas? Yep. My father’s 73rd birthday, her 76th birthday. She has come shining through, as always.
Today we saw Dr. Erika, her regular oncologist, and I could see the worry in her face, even though she tried to speak in a sweet tone. The CA 125 marker was completely stable. It didn’t go up, it only slight went down. This was more bad than good. After chemo, it SHOULD go down, the cancer cell count has to go down, and if it isn’t, that means that despite the chemo, the cancer is growing. The constant vomiting isn’t helping; she is losing weight. If the Doc would just tell me what to do, I’d do it. She suggested chemo should be upgrade from the regular 21 day cycle, to daily, with a stronger chemo.
Will it work? Will it weaken her more? Dr. Erika told me that mom’s overall health is surprisingly well, and now was the time to try it, it was now or taking the chance of waiting another 20 days and the cancer growing more. Mom agreed, and I know that was hard for her, even though she tried to keep her cool for me. We went out for breakfast together, then I went home with her. She went straight to sleep. As for me, I cleaned the first floor. Something makes me uncomfortable at my parents’ house. Maybe it is the fact that it is so silent now? My sister Svetlana died almost 11 years ago, in the house. Maybe it is because my ex-husband and I lived there for 8 months when we were first married, and I hate remembering it. Maybe it’s everything I’ve ever lived in that house that is now long gone, that I either miss or regret. My mother is a hoarder, and I am borderline. Those memories are hard to come in contact with physically, so sometimes it is just easier to not go through things, and just leave them there at continue to accumulate.
I did fill a small bag with various broken items I gathered from junk drawers (at my mother’s house, all drawers are junk drawers). When I was done, the kitchen, living and dining room were shining. I didn’t touch the studio; it is just too hard for me. Then I went to moms’ room. Geesh, she has piles of clothing all over, but wants me to leave it. The floor was filthy, which upsets me. Me, I have a job and 2 kids, so I can’t be there every day. What I have nailed is meals. Homemade meals, as organic as I can manage. I’ve eliminate all artificial flavoring and coloring from our diets since last year. I make sure my parents have home cooked special meals for them every day. The least my sister (half-sister, my father’s daughter) could help out with is helping them clean the house. She hasn’t had a job in 19 years, and my father financially supports her with EVERYTHING. It would just seem logical, right?
It has come to my understanding that expectations are not good. Expecting my father to demand more from his demanding daughter, is too much. So I swept and mopped and accumulated so much dust in that bedroom, but left the atmosphere as clean as a desert island. Adrian came to pick me up just in time to pick up the girls from school.
From there we went to my mother in law’s. Today marked 2 months since my husband’s grandmother died, which was devastating for us. Lunch, mass, back to my mother’s law’s to pray the rosary for an hour, then back home. These are my days now.