Scripture for Meditation:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, / I will fear no evil, / for you are with me; / your rod and your staff, / they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 ESV).
Prayer of Faith:
Dear God, I pray that you would remind my mom that you are with her even though she is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Help her to fear no evil. Help her to be comforted by the protection of your rod and the guidance of your staff. Surround her with peace as she goes though the low parts of her journey. And I ask that you would help me and my family to not fear and to believe that you are walking with all of us in these vulnerable times. Comfort us as we trust you for protection and guidance. Amen.
From the working manuscript of Not Alone: Prayers for Daughters of Moms with Stage 4 Cancer
Today is Friday, 1/25/2019. I talked to my dad last night, and I talked to my mom this morning. Last night, my dad gave me an update that my mom’s new high-powered anti-inflammatory medicine is working and that she has been able to sleep. My mom’s liver biopsy is today at 9:00 a.m. She needs to be at the hospital at 8:00 a.m. The Medical Transport people will be there with a stretcher at 7:00 a.m.
They are now looking at next Wednesday to start my mom’s 10-day radiation treatment. The reason for the delay is that my dad hasn’t been able to secure anyone yet to help get my mom back up the stairs upon their return from her treatments. He’s been going through the Senior Center with the information they gave him. He was able to get 10 days off from work as vacation time to be with my mom during her radiation treatments. The concern I have is that if they aren’t going to be starting the radiation until next Wednesday, is he going to be able to take off another two days from work to make up for the two days of radiation that they will have lost for not starting the radiation until Wednesday?
My dad told me about the incident that happened this past Tuesday when they were returning from the PET scan. My mom had taken three Xanex for anxiety prior to going because she is notoriously claustrophobic as a result of a serious car accident she was in when she was in her twenties—she was hit by a drunk driver, and the accident crushed her pelvis and left her in the hospital for three months. My mom has never been able to ride in the back seat of a car. And on the few times I have known her to fly in an airplane, she has had to be sedated ahead of time. So the three Xanex pills aren’t a surprise, but this is important to know because upon their return, my mom wasn’t able to use her legs at all (it sounds like in the past going to and from her appointments, my dad has been able to support her up and down the stairs and my mom has been able to use her legs just enough to get to and from the car and up and down the stairs). My dad fell as he was trying to get her back up the stairs to the front door (there are about eight total stairs to the front door and about ten stairs inside to get to the living room since it is a split-level house). They both fell into the snow bank, and then when he was trying to pick her back up, he fell again. There was a neighbor who was outside sweeping snow who saw them and had come over to help them into the house and up the stairs. It seems to me that the anxiety medicine was the factor here, and it is my understanding that my mom won’t be needing the anxiety medication for her radiation treatments (or for today’s liver biopsy, which they will sedate her for once she gets there). So the obvious concern is safety since there is a precedent of my dad falling while trying to support my mom.
From last night’s conversation, it sounded like my dad was still willing to get her to and from the car and up and down the stairs for her radiation treatments but that my mom is demanding that there be another person to assist with the transport. I wanted to talk to my mom last night about it, but my dad said she was sleeping. So I called early this morning before the medical transport people got there to talk to my mom about it. The bottom line is that while the new pain medication works and essentially makes her pain-free to the point where she can stand on her own without pain, my mom is saying that her strength is gone which makes it impossible for her to go up the stairs or to support herself, by herself, on her cane (which would allow my dad to be a spotter for her as she gets up and down the stairs). The disconnect for me is that one month ago, my mom was still able to get around the house with my support. I had to go slow, yes, but it was not impossible for her to get around. I didn’t even see a need for a cane or walker unless she wanted to move around by herself. So the main point of clarity for me was about asking about the extent to which her mobility has declined in a month. My mom is citing not having exercised and not having done the in-home Physical Therapy yet as being the reasons why she has no strength left and can’t go up the stairs without a third person for support and safety. She even said that they would get to the radiation treatments but that the problem is getting back up the stairs once they are home.
All I could do was to offer an additional voice, to give an additional perspective to the matter. I live here and not there and can’t physically help (because I would if I could)—but that doesn’t mean that the opinion I have on the matter is invalid or unworthy of consideration. It is my position that these radiation treatments are a top priority—even more-so than getting to the biopsy today. [The fact that the radiologist-oncologist has even suggested radiation means that it’s treatable—which is not always a given for people with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer!] For the price of the medical transport with a stretcher (which my sister footed), they could have put in a chair lift. Why is everyone focused on the wrong thing here? Yes, the liver biopsy might show that there’s a new cancer, but they can’t really control that right now. They know about all the other cancer in her back and liver and lung and upper breast. My mom and my dad said out-loud that putting the radiation off a few days isn’t going to matter. And while that may or may not be actually true, this is the thing (going to the radiation treatments) that they can control. My mom is not completely paralyzed—and her new pain medicine works to the extent that she is pain-free. So why use the excuse that her “strength is gone” thereby keeping her from going up the stairs after her radiation treatments to be the reason why they can’t start radiation (which could have started as soon as yesterday!).
I said my piece about it to them, and that is all I can do. I pray to God that he will take away their excuse to delay the radiation treatment even more (which is a possibility if they can’t secure assistance to help get my mom to and from her radiation treatments). They are hanging everything on the hook that they don’t have a third person to help. So, God, send the third person. If my mom isn’t willing to use her pain-free legs that you just gifted her with by way of her new pain medication, then gift her with the safety of a third person if she is not willing to use her cane and use the strength that she does have to get up those stairs after her radiation treatment! My mom said she is afraid of falling again, which is a valid concern. But help my mom see that the greater fear is about not having started the radiation already. This is in her power to do. Help her to do what is truly in her power to do.
As for me, I am sad that my mom and my dad aren’t hearing me on this. My dad has carted my mom to and from all of her doctor appointments up until now. The only change was this past Tuesday, and that was because of the Xanex. My mom’s not going to be taking that for her radiation treatments, so it follows that they can pick up where they left off (no pun intended). It’s not going to be easy. But it’s doable. Possible. That’s how we live out our faith—doing what we can do in hopes that God will do what we can’t do.
Until the next update, carpe diem.