F@%k Cancer, Part 6

There’s always a calm before the storm.

The tumor’s original scan. Isn’t it impressive? To think that unevenly shaped – multiform mass had caused all this drama! I can’t believe it’s already December. Wow! Never in a million years did I think mom would be in hospice care at this age, much less waiting for the 9.0 earthquake inside her head that finally erases her from existence. During our last conversation she told me she wanted a quiet death, the kind that comes suddenly with no pain. I don’t blame her. I’d hate being trapped in my mind for days, waiting for the steroids kick in and free me. I wonder what it’s like for her to black out for days. Not fun.

I feel like I’m on the Pacific Rim Shatterdome, resetting the countdown clock after every episode to 10 days. That’s the convulsion lead time, certified by two months of ER visits and hospital stays. Slowly, the anxiety in our family builds the closer the timer gets to zero. Remember I mentioned previously that they were exhausted? Even though she gets at home care now and meds delivered on demand, the seizure countdown has them on edge. I’m already expecting their call, an attempt to reassure everyone to take care of themselves first and not worry about me. It’s shocking to see this strong, kind and compassionate woman who preceded us all deconstructing bit by bit with every day that passes. I miss talking to her on the phone, hearing her voice call out my name. Almost all her words are gone now. In a couple more weeks she’ll be non verbal.

We don’t know which “patatú” will end her glorious journey on this beautiful island paradise.

The hospice team is preparing us for the worst. Not that they have to do much on our behalf since we are already on Defcon 1. Brain Cancer attacked us like the Cylons did the Battlestar Fleet, and we’ve been running Galactica on fumes for months now. I still don’t know if we will find the 13th Colony, that miracle drug or treatment that could bring her back. The odds are not working in our favor. At some point we will have to take back her Beemer. My sister already donated or gave away most of the goods salvaged from her 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom apartment in downtown Hato Rey. Right now, my sister and I don’t want to sort through all the other trinkets she accumulated over the years for a job well done. My heart sank. Admiral Adama must have hated losing so many Colonial Vipers and Warriors to the enemy; I sure did! Saying goodbye to the items that served us well in our childhood and beyond was overwhelming.

As her 63rd birthday approaches, my only hope is that she pulls through the holiday season. That she holds up and we can spend more quality time together. With my 10th wedding anniversary looming mirroring how long grandpa has been gone, and Christmas/ New Year’s celebrations on the horizon, the family has enough emotional baggage to process. There’s a part of me that secretly hopes mom passes before she starts to suffer,  to linger in a vegetative state that will cut short a life in its prime. Devastating. Is it wrong to hope the pending celebrations don’t get tainted? Selfish, perhaps, but if I keep collecting great losses next to big wins the cynic in me will persist, and then all was for naught.

Learning to stay compassionate, kind and gentle through the stages of grief is excruciatingly taxing. My limbic system is tired from overreacting, from having to solve problems from a distance. Trusting people have her best interest at heart is difficult since we all have different perspectives and agendas. Much respect for those, and their families, who stayed positive and optimistic throughout their own cancer trials and tribulations. Faith, Fate, and Destiny concocted a grim portrait. Words cannot express the gratitude in my heart towards those who have gone through similar battles and have shared their lessons learned with me. It helps to be prepared for the worst, especially when the best will never come.

Everyone to their battle stations… reset the clock… brace yourselves… the war has just begun…

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