Jun 05, 2010 - 9:10 am
I am currently watching my mother die. I am 22 years old and just graduated from college 4 days ago.
I have so many different emotions that its very difficult to sort through them all. This all happened so fast. In February, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma when she went in to have a benign lump removed in her lung. She had a small melanoma spot on her right arm more than 3 years ago, which was removed fine without any trouble. (I have learned throughout this that <5% of melanoma can enter the blood and lay dormant in there for up to 15 years - this is clearly what happened to my mom, only it appeared much sooner). She entered into a trial in March with a very successful and well-respected melanoma specialist, and underwent 4 weeks of extremely powerful treatment (Interfeuron), but just three weeks ago, we learned from the scans that the cancer had only spread. Now it wasn't just in her pleura, but her lung, stomach, and parts of her liver. The doctors told us it was terminal, and she had anywhere from 6 months to a year to live.
Just yesterday, the doctor came over and we have decided to put her on hospice. She likely has a month.
I am in shock and so much pain to see how fast this has all happened. The cancer has physically eaten my mother away and I barely recognize her. On top of everything, my mom (a very young and hitherto healthy woman) was diagnosed with early onset alzheimer's before any of this cancer appeared -- and the disease and all the medicine has just enhanced that condition tenfold. I not only have to deal with a physically ill mother, but a mother whose mind is gone too. It's like the Notebook, only worse because there is the pain and the suffering that she is dealing with. She can barely speak and is often delusional, but there are those special moments when she will look at me, take her hand to my face, and whisper "I love you". That is all I really have right now. I have no idea how much longer she will be around, but I can't imagine she'll live to make July.
I am lucky to have a strong father and two incredibly close sisters to experience this with and to help me cope, as well as a loving boyfriend....but sometimes none of it is enough. I am not terribly religious, but I have turned to books like Conversations with God to try to make sense of how something so terrible and ugly could happen to someone so beautiful and strong.
I am without question closest to my mother, and always have been. I looked almost identical to her at my age. I can even begin to imagine life without her in our closeknit family. All she wanted was to be a grandmother, and now she'll never get to do that or even see me marry.
To all of you who have gone through this process already, I have respect and empathy for you and I feel close to you in a way despite having no real idea of who you are.
Any words of encouragement or advice during this difficult time would mean the world.