Phone Calls With Mom (Part 2)
Facing My Mother's Mortality
About nine months ago, I wrote a piece about my phone calls with my mom. It is one of my most read pieces and was a “Top Story” on Vocal. If you missed it, it can be found here.
The piece is about our relationship and the phone calls we shared, which made our relationship what it is. We have still been talking just about every day, and we have seen each other at family cookouts and get-togethers through the summer, which was a nice change from last year. Like nine months ago, I still call my mamma every day. Updates on the family, recipes, and funny situations that happened. Our phone calls are just as important today in our relationship as they were when I wrote the first piece.
The conversations started to change over the summer. It became hard for her to remember her train of thought. She would struggle to find the words she wanted to use. She had a couple of falls at home. She was diagnosed with Aphasia, which has numerous causes.
Aphasia is a condition that affects a person’s ability to use language to communicate. Short-term memory issues, inability to understand phrases, speech difficulties, and writing difficulties are all symptoms of Aphasia. (You can read more about it below).
As you can imagine, phone conversations became challenging. Many times it was just a quick I love you. (She hasn’t forgotten that phrase). For a week or so, it seemed my mom was getting worse. Through several calls my sister made, my mom got in for an MRI as they began to look at the cause of the Aphasia. They found a mass in her brain. My sister was called back that evening, and was instructed to bring my mother to the emergency room.
At the hospital, they started administering steroids to combat the swelling in her brain. Her Aphasia was getting better, yet still there. Due to Covid restrictions, visitation was difficult, but my sister, my brother, my aunt, and I made sure she had a visit each day she was in the hospital. And I still called every day.
The imaging they had done informed us that the tumor is located in her temporal lobe and is inoperable. A biopsy revealed that it was Glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-spreading cancer. You can read more about it from the Mayo Clinic here.
Our family is in shock. My mother is the center of our family. In an instant, we were faced with losing her.
She is home now, and her treatments start in about a week. The treatment will be chemotherapy and radiation. She has also enrolled in a clinical trial for a device called an Optune device. You can read more about this treatment here.
I still call her every day. Her Aphasia has gotten much better. We still talk about the kids, the family, movies, and tv shows. We also talk about the logistics of her treatments. We talk about how she will fight this as long as she can. We talk about mind over matter and how strong she is. She is worried about how everyone else is dealing with this. In a moment that wasn’t my finest, I said that it was unfair that she has cancer, and I could think of so many other nasty, vile people who deserve it, not her. Her response was so my mom- “don’t wish this on anyone. No one deserves this”.
I do not know how much time we have left with my mother. She is ready to fight and has the support she needs to fight this. I believe in miracles and prayer. And my mom may live for five more years, depending on how she responds to treatment. The truth is that the prognosis for this type of cancer isn’t good and isn’t curable. It will never be in remission, and the treatment is to give her more time. I do and will cherish every phone call. Even if it is just a quick “I love you, mom”.
Do you think heaven has a phone so I could check in when she gets there?
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