I was faced with a decision for this summer: to return home or to remain in D.C. (where I attend school). I had a list of pros and cons, and the glaring con to staying in DC was mom was home. The day I received an amazing internship offer back home, I also received a phone call from my mom following a doctor’s appointment with scan results. My mom told me the cancer was getting worse, so in a heartbeat I told her I would be home this summer.
When I returned home I could tell my mom lost weight (no, not in the “summer is coming” way). My mom has been gagging, her stomach has been hurting, she has been minimally eating, and she has been sleeping most of the day. While at school, I could tell from her voice on the phone she was not herself, but seeing her in person…she just looked depleted.
Exactly two months ago my mom and I were in Las Vegas for Spring Break losing at the Black Jack tables. My mom walked the entire Vegas strip, walked to different hotels and casinos, and stayed up until the early morning with me. In these past two months, cancer decided to be a dumbass (pardon the language). Now my mom and I are at home relaxing on the couch watching TV (until I start working). My mom moves from her bed to the couch, I get her whatever food and drink she can stomach for the day, and I take care of Wally. (Max of course helps out and my dad is truly SuperDad and SuperHusband.)
An unknown piece to metastatic cancer is the effects of constant changing of treatments. My mom has educated everyone on how once a treatment stops working, you move onto the next, and the next, and the next… until there are no more. However, once she starts a new treatment, we as caregivers must adjust as well. Is her fatigue from the cancer or the treatment? Is the treatment working? Is her nausea and lack of appetite from the chemo or is the cancer up to something? We try to get her to try this smoothie or this type of mashed potato, anything to make her feel better and more comfortable.
Caregivers put someone else before himself or herself and understand the fragility of life and time. In doing so, I have learned…
· There are trivial things in life and important things in life.
· You should never put things off. (You want that pair of shoes? Go buy them before your size is gone…okay that is a bit trivial…maybe more important things like traveling, saying I love you, going after your dreams, carpe diem).
· Always be honest (my mom has always).
· Never do anything that dulls your uniqueness or prohibits you from being yourself or doing what you love.
One of the beautiful pieces to being a caregiver is I am always there for my mom. No matter how far away I am she will always get a phone call or text asking how she is. I have always been her sidekick, but now that I am home and really taking care of her, I am sort of like her pit bull or attack baby bear. Would I cut someone off for the closest parking spot if my mom was too tired to walk far? Obviously. Would I fight someone in the supermarket if there were only one bottle left of her favorite smoothie? Definitely.