Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Night Update

This year has been challenging. Is it too early to talk about "this year"? Although we are only 12 days into it, I feel comfortable saying this is not exactly the way I was hoping to start the year. Jake's wedding was a great day for our family and friends to get together. We laughed and cried and forgot about cancer.... if only for the day. Since the wedding, cancer has hit us hard and with a vengeance.

Mom's lungs have been working hard for a few years now. It's not just the cancer in her lungs that is bad. She is getting fibrosis which causes the soft spongy tissue of the lungs to get hard. It's difficult to breath when your lungs are hard and refuse to fill with air. On top of that, she has this cruddy infection that is magnifying the whole thing. This pneumonia is causing her to cough more than normal and I see that her lung capacity is compromised if she bends over too quickly or moves up and down stairs. Her lungs don't fill up like ours do.

My dad is just as wonderful as always. He is just as giving and just as loving, but he just doesn't seem like himself. The fatigue and hair loss were bad enough for him to deal with, but now this horribly irritating rash really seems to be a low blow for him. I find myself wanting to say, "It's just hair" or "Who cares about the rash on your head as long as it's working on the inside" but then again, it's not me battling those side effects. I know my dad doesn't care about these issues out of vain, he just wants to live a normal life without having to look in the mirror and be reminded of the cancer. When you are satisfied with the way you look, you feel better. It's that simple.

Tomorrow is a double-chemo day with both of them getting treated in Seattle. Angie and Shannon have both taken the day off of work so they can take them. I have been there on double-chemo days and it's hard to relax if you're by yourself. You are going back and forth between rooms checking on them. I'm really happy that both Angie and Shannon could get tomorrow off so mom and dad will each have company throughout the day. We won't know until mom gets down to the hospital whether or not the pneumonia will prevent her from getting chemo again. I know the missed chemo has been disheartening to her lately. She has missed three chemo treatments since Christmas due to bad weather or feeling ill. If this treatment is held up, she is scheduled for chemo on Friday as well. Jake will be taking her on Friday. She actually has scans and blood work on Thursday and then the results on Friday. If the growth of her tumors is significant they will be pulling her off of the clinical trial. I haven't heard any mention of a backup plan, other than standard chemotherapy, so I certainly hope we get some positive results on Friday.

Lately, I find it difficult to turn off my brain. I think too much and it leaves me overwhelmed. We are all experiencing the same types of things, in our own way. I have seen cancer change people from the inside out. We can't change this process but we can move through this process with them and support the ones we love. In closing I will leave you with a quote I stumbled upon today by Bernie Siegel.

"Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires-disruptions in our lives that seem to be disastrous at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way".

Thinking happy thoughts-


Anonymous said...

Amy ... I am so sorry that 2009 has been such a rough start. Know that many are keeping your entire family in their prayers! There is no doubt about it - cancer SUCKS and you've got a double whammy. I've never "met" your mom in person, but in our many discussions via e-mail she is one strong lady (with a great sense of humor!) and I am proud to call her my ABF (American Best Friend!) Looking forward to hearing some good results from both your mom and dad soon.

Hugs, Linda (Canada)

Amy said...

Dear Schmitt family,

While surfing one day, I came across your blog. Your love, cohesiveness and unflagging determination set a very high standard. You're surely aware how much you've inspired and helped so many others as you've struggled through the last few years. I am in awe.

My brother died of BAC in 2007 only five months after diagnosis. (He wasn't a smoker, either.) Reading your blog, it is encouraging to know that there is so much life to be lived and that his outcome is not the only one people can expect.

Peace and best wishes to all of you.