Another day passes.....
Mum is feeling okay - most days now she is only napping for a few hours in the afternoon and she feels well enough to do some gentle exercise and chores around the house. It's good to talk to her in the evenings and find her cheery and upbeat.
But even this is a reminder that she is only doing this well because she's had a break from the chemo, so this cycle had two weeks of chemo rather than three, and she's now on a lower dose than is specified in the protocol so that they can try and prevent her getting that sick again. Obviously that means that the tumours won't be getting hit as hard as they would have been with the standard dose, but does it mean they are not getting hit enough to do any good?
We know that some tumours don't respond to the chemo at all, and keep on growing. Are Mum's tumours shrinking? Are they growing? We just don't know.
Dad estimates that Mum has lost about 80-90% of her hair. Her hair loss has slowed almost to a halt now. Is that the amount of hair she would have lost anyway, or does that mean the chemo isn't working anymore?
Today is Mum's last day on the standard pre-operative chemo. They turn the pump off tomorrow and she's got nearly two weeks break before the 5-FU starts again with the radiation on the 15th of September. What if the radiation knocks her around so much they have to stop that too?
I know these what-if's are not helpful, but I'm scared. I think it's reasonably natural, at least for me, to think of the worst. That way, if the worst happens, I'm (at least partly) prepared, and if the worst doesn't happen, I'm pleasantly surprised. That's how I justify it to myself anyway.
Emotionally, I'm trying very hard not to be a complete wreck. I'm scared and sad and angry. So much of all of them mixed together that the resulting emotion is almost unrecognisable from its origins. Sadness becomes anger and I want to scream but that feels pointless as there's nothing to scream at, and it won't do any good anyway and I stop, and it doesn't make the anger go away, but then, it doesn't go away when I scream at nothing, or imagine screaming at Mum's cancer. After all, as much as we tend to anthropomorphise, cancer is not sentient. It has no malice, it is not evil, it makes no choices. I might as well scream at a tree, or the sun, or the rain. I want to say it will just ignore me, but with no facility to notice me, it can't ignore me. It will just do what it does, and my screaming does nothing.
Of course, then I feel angry at myself for wanting to scream and I feel angry at not being able to scream and .....
I've tried crying too. It doesn't work either. I'm so powerless that even my emotions feel pointless.
But the hope is still there. Deep down I still expect that my Mum will still be around for a long time, that she'll get back to some sort of normal, and that one day I'll just be able to ring her up without wondering if she has enough energy to talk today, and that we'll be able to plan a visit for some time in the future without worrying that she will be sick and our visit will be a burden, or worse, that she won't be there for us to visit.
And that maybe one day I won't be so angry.