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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
As I posted last week, my grandmother has cancer; 6 months to live if… 
5th-Sep-2012 08:52 am
Hearth
As I posted last week, my grandmother has cancer; 6 months to live if she doesn't treat it, 12-18 if she does chemo.

And my parents were pushing really hard for that chemo. Which, to me, sounds impossibly cruel. I had a very strong feeling that my grandmother would refuse treatment, as she's pretty much been checked out of Life in This World for a while already. Her husband is dead, all of her friends are dead, she has no hobbies, she sits in her retirement-community condo all day and pretty much interacts with no one but my mother. She's tired. She's bored. She's okay with going. And what sense is there in grabbing for another 6 months if those months are full of pain and illness?

This is where I tell you things that will make some stuff make sense: My mother has never lived farther from her mother than about ten minutes. They speak on the phone daily, and have lunches and dinners together several times a week. This is part of why I was so difficult for my mother, and why she clung so hard to my sister that my sister is still, at 34 and married, living with my mother. In my mother's head, that's what a mother-daughter relationship is.

So I understand. I understand that my mother doesn't want to let her mother go, in part because she's her mother and she loves her, but also because she has never had a life that doesn't involve daily contact with her. This is a complete demolishing of my mother's foundations. So she's angry at her mother for refusing treatment. "Well, this means she's only going to get worse. The tumor is going to keep growing and she's just going to get sicker."

I said, "Mom, that would happen with or without chemo."

I did not remind her how horribly ill the chemo would make Grandma, because she was not able to think about that right then, I think. But I fully expect to have to sit her down when I visit later this month and talk her through this, how the chemo would put her through such incredible unthinkable misery, and then the tumor would start growing again and she would die anyway. There is no option that does not end in Grandma dying in the near future. Given that, the only humane choice is the choice with the least pain.

Mom is honoring Grandma's wishes, even though she disagrees. Which I am tremendously thankful for. (I was dreading having to sit her down and talk her out of forcibly treating my grandmother against her will.)

I will be going down to Florida soon, probably for Rosh Hashanah. That's going to be hard, but the hardest parts are yet to come. My mother will be completely unmoored. And... my sister is Not a Help. So that's all gonna fall on me. So many years of successfully Not Dealing With my Mother, and now, well, here we go.

So that's that. At least my grandmother has chosen and my mother is respecting her wishes. We have that.
Comments 
5th-Sep-2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
Stay strong. This has to be very hard for all of you, but I'm glad that she's not going to have to go through chemo against her will.
5th-Sep-2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
I am so very, very sorry.
5th-Sep-2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
So that's that. At least my grandmother has chosen and my mother is respecting her wishes. We have that.

May this be a good sign, for all of you. *hug, on tap when you want it*
5th-Sep-2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
Wishing you the strength you need. It's a hard time, to be sure.
5th-Sep-2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
*pebble*
5th-Sep-2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
*Hugs*
5th-Sep-2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
I can totally relate to this: When my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a couple of years ago, the doctors gave her 12 months with chemotherapy or 6 months without. She chose not to go for chemotherapy, and even though we all would have liked more time with her, we understood that the price to be paid for that extra 6 months was just too high. Enjoy the time you've got with your grandmother. *hugs*
5th-Sep-2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
My thoughts are with you.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, various treatment options were discussed. As with your grandmother, none of them were very rosy. We had less than one month, out of the 6-12, or whatever was given him, to come to terms with it. Cancer just doesn't play nice.

Hopefully, your mother will come to understand, and hopefully things will proceed as peacefully as they can under the circumstance.
5th-Sep-2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
(I read this whole thing.)
5th-Sep-2012 03:40 pm (UTC)
I read the whole thing. May everyone find the comfort they seek.
5th-Sep-2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Well, this is a dry run at being Designated Responsible Person when your parents get old and wifty. It sucks. But we're pretty much all destined for that journey, at one time or another.
5th-Sep-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
What a hard situation. You have all my love and support and prayers. My sisters were both worse than useless when my grandmother was dying, so even though I had/have the worst relationship with my grandparents/my mother, I got to do all the work. It's a shitty situation to be in, and no fun at all, but maybe you can take solace in knowing it's a blessing you are doing for your mother?
5th-Sep-2012 04:27 pm (UTC)
*hug* please remember to breathe. *sending you strength and positive energy* for dealing with Mother. *peace and pain-free days* for your grandmother.
5th-Sep-2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I am sorry about your grandmother - how is your relationship with her? How are you feeling for YOU?
I wish you the best in dealing with your mom.
5th-Sep-2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
I know that you are the Caretaker. But just don't forget to take care of yourself.

My thoughts are with you...
5th-Sep-2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
If any of the family are unfamiliar with the chemo experience, or feels like the decision is happening too fast, they might read Jay Lake's LJ documenting his last few years.
5th-Sep-2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
*pebble*
5th-Sep-2012 07:02 pm (UTC)
Every ending brings a beginning too, and for your Mama it sounds like they are beginnings a long time waiting. Even if it's scary and hard, it's good for her too - sending you strength to get you through to the point where she sees that for herself.
5th-Sep-2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yow... I hope that your upcoming trip involves changing things over to more stable--and less painful--family dynamics.

May your grandmother enjoy her remaining days, and may they be as plentiful as she wants.
5th-Sep-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry your family is going through this.

Mom is honoring Grandma's wishes, even though she disagrees.

I'm glad Grandma can express her wishes and Mom is able to honor them even if it hurts her.
5th-Sep-2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry.
5th-Sep-2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
Listening.
5th-Sep-2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry this is happening.

I'm glad your grandmother is being listened to.
5th-Sep-2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
Good luck.

Does your mom have any kind of support structure/person outside of the family? If she doesn't (and even if she does) this may be a good time for her to start looking for some sort of group -- I'd be shocked if there wasn't something in her area for people facing bereavement. If your mom is someone who holds on as tight as possible as long as possible then having something else to transfer some of that grip to, with people who are experiencing similar pain, may do your mother a lot of good. (And by proxy also do you good.)
5th-Sep-2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
As a suggestion: While your grandmother is in a clear state of mind, I suggest getting her to video tape what SHE wants to happen with a number of things:

a) what happens if she's no longer able to speak or make her wishes known
b) if it comes time to pull the plug, what to do.
c) any last things she wants to say.

I'm sure that your grandmother already has a will, but it might be beneficial for her to start parceling stuff out now, esp. the sentimental items so that there's no quarrelling later.
6th-Sep-2012 03:28 am (UTC)
I read this.
Love and hugs.
6th-Sep-2012 04:35 am (UTC) - Support.
And a pebble.
6th-Sep-2012 04:36 am (UTC)
If it helps at all, I back you completely.
7th-Sep-2012 02:30 am (UTC)
Glad to hear your grandmother's wishes are being respected and I hope she does not suffer much over the next few months. I know how your mom feels and hope she can make the most of the next few moths with her mother. And take care of yourself because you have more than enough on your plate as it is.
7th-Sep-2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
*hugs* what a hard situation for everyone. I know you'll helpo everyone a lot in this.

My grandmother, mother, and sister were similarly enmeshed. I'm sure that made it harder on my mother when they both predeceased her. Since I'd been thrown out for Insufficient Loyalty To Bobbie (my mother, who expected to have preference over my husband and daughter) at that point, though, it wasn't my problem; she didn't seek it, and since I didn't know about either death till at least a year afterward, I didn't offer.

*more hugs* I'm wishing you all- but most of all you- the best in this.
10th-Sep-2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
I'm late to the dance on this one, but I wanted to give you super big *hugs*. Be well.
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