We finally have an answer for the question of why my mother has been so without energy for the past months. For why she has been unable to eat. For why she has lost over 70 pounds. For why she has night sweats and swollen lymph nodes.
It's not a good answer. But it is an answer.
Yesterday, my mother was finally and somewhat unsurprisingly diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Yesterday was a bad day.
So far, I have been entirely unimpressed with the quality of her care in this hospital. The nurses have been fine - have been good, in fact. But the doctors have been horrid. Her current doctor, who was the one who got the last (and most important) biopsy done, didn't even visit my mother himself to deliver the news, instead sending one of his students. My mum was told she had cancer, and that someone would call the cancer centre, and that was it. No "next steps", no reassurances. Made me say some very bad words.
Yesterday, my mother was scared and sad, and feeling very unsupported by my father, who can be very uncommunicative and astoundingly unemotional. They ended up having a fight, and my mum ordered him out of the room. I called and yelled at my father, realising later that this was not helpful at all, and I only did it because I couldn't yell at the doctor. Or the cancer. So then I felt bad. And I did apologise at the time, but I'm sure it didn't sound all that sincere.
"You need to be there for Mum, and talk to her when she needs you to, and you need to listen to her and be supportive! I'm sorry I'm yelling! How are you doing?!" (still yelling.)
But things seem a lot brighter today. It is a good thing to finally have a diagnosis. To finally know what we can do, and there is a treatment. My mum visited the cancer centre today, and met the staff who will give her her primary care for her next six months of outpatient chemo. She said everyone seems very nice, and they were helpful and knowledgeable, and sympathetic, and straightforward. The doctor spoke to both my mother and my father at length, and my dad was much better about expressing support and being there for my mum, even going so far as to ask questions and seek out ways he can help. All of which is making my mum feel much better.
Ever since she checked into the hospital, I've been calling her two and three times a day. I don't want her to feel out of touch or forgotten, and it helps me to hear her voice and know how she's feeling and what she's thinking, so that I can try to find ways that I can help. Yesterday, I heard sadness and despair and fear, and while these are terrifying things to hear in your mother's voice, at the same time I was glad to know that she could share these things with me, and know that she's not alone, and she won't be alone.
My mum has been the strong one in the family for a very long time. Doing the things that are hard to do, saying the things that must be said. And now she needs a break. I only hope that I'm strong enough and have enough wisdom to be the strong one for a while.
I do know that I have a lot of friends who are there for me, thinking and praying for me and my family. I know that when I falter, I won't be alone. I know that now, and hope that I can keep remembering that when it's another horrid day.
In the meantime, I'm going to find a good pattern for a chemo cap, and hunt for the softest, warmest yarn in southwestern Ontario. And learn to cook a turkey dinner.