Melanie - you're a gem. Thank you so, so much for setting this up so that we can keep people updated. It means so much to me that you would take the time to do this. The blog is beautiful, and I know my mom will love it. More than anything right now I want to thank everyone for the kind words, love, support, prayers, flowers, meals, etc. that have been sent our way. The Lord really does His work through individuals and we are benefiting enormously from that right now. Our family and friends have really come together to show us that we are not alone AT ALL in this endeavor, and it is so very comforting. I don't think cancer is a stranger to any of us. Unfortunately, it is so rampant I am absolutely positive it has affected each of us in some way.
This first post is going to be a little long in order to get everyone caught up. My mom has been having chest pains and trouble swallowing for quite a while now. As I recall, Mothers Day of this year is when she really started to have problems, although it had been going on before Mothers Day. The doctors she went to at the time couldn't figure out what was causing the pain. She got some medication that did nothing, and she also got some advice from a doctor to see a psychiatrist for anxiety. From then on, our family was convinced that this was a form of anxiety, and with the proper help, my mom would be able to overcome her problem with eating/swallowing. In my mind it was almost as if she was embarrassed or felt awkward eating in front of others and as a result would panic, choke, and throw up. That gives you at least a little bit of background. Unfortunately, I don't live at or even close to home right now, so I don't have every detail, but I'll do my very best to give you the details to the best of my knowledge.
The very end of July my whole family went to the beach and the amount of weight my mom had lost was shocking. She was not able to get much solid food down at all, and whatever she was able to swallow ended up coming right back up. She was able to drink liquids and smoothies, but as you can imagine, that gets awfully boring after a while. My Dad gave her a beautiful blessing with the help of my Grandad, Michael, and Brian. My mom was scheduled to have tests done after our vacation which included an endoscopy. This test showed the damn tumor (sorry if that offended anyone, but there's really no other way to describe it. I know my sister, Kelsey, won't be offended as that is her swear word of choice. Just ask my dad and the Hoover Dam) in all it's glory blocking the esophagus. The doctor was a little surprised my mom was able to swallow any food at all other than straight liquids. She was put on a liquids only diet, had blood taken, had a pet scan and cat scan done and was sent home. Waiting is the worst. I hate not knowing. Don't ever look up any kind of cancer or tumor on the internet - it's scary. For those of you that did look it up, I'm sure you read that the chances of having a benign tumor in your throat are very, very slim. It is almost always cancer, especially if you're a white male, smoker, tobacco chewer, or alcoholic - all of which my mom is not. Weird.
Yesterday we got the news that my mom does, indeed, have cancer. It has spread into her lymph nodes. She will have to go through chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. I believe that the cancer that has spread into the lymph nodes will need to be gone before they can do surgery. I didn't get any specific details about when all of that will take place, but I do know that she is meeting with the oncologist tomorrow, so we will have an update for you then. She went in today for a feeding tube so that she has the strength she needs for chemo. Chemo is brutal. We're not looking forward to it at all, but we're focusing on finding the best ways to keep my mom strong so that her body can support her through all the chemo. Obviously getting the right nutrients will be the best thing for her body, but I think a good dose of humor now and then as well as the support of family and friends will help to keep her strong as well.
Michael and I went to the temple the night we found out about the tumor and the word "prepare" kept going through my mind over, and over, and over again. I am grateful for that. I'm grateful because I think it did help prepare me (not that anyone is ever fully prepared for news like this). For some reason, I have always been fairly level-headed when it comes to tragedies and/or emergencies. I get it from my dad. Which reminds me, my dad had blood work done as well in order to monitor what is going on with his liver and everything came out just fine. Phew. My dad is the absolute best person for my mom to have around. He doesn't ever panic, and faces things head-on rather than shying away from the sometimes harshness of reality. He will definitely be a calm amongst the storm that is her life right now and I am so incredibly grateful for him. My siblings have really come together in a way like never before to comfort each other and support my mom. I think I speak for my whole family when I say that we can do hard things. We have been called upon to do our very best with this trial and that is exactly what we will do. I think everyone in my family has felt a little bit of guilt over constantly telling my mom that she was dealing with anxiety and that it is all in her head, however none of us could have known what was really going on without the proper tests being done. How grateful I am for doctors and technology.
Thank you all again for all of your support. My family won't get through this without our family and friends. We love you!