I found out that Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at 6pm on the day before the winter solstice. Though I tried not to drive myself crazy, I spent the shortest day of the year googling breast cancer and was relieved to find that 90% of people diagnosed with breast cancer are alive 5 years after their initial diagnosis. The day after the solstice, we found out how bad her cancer was. How fast the tumors had invaded her lymphatic system, how far they had spread, how much damage they caused. The entire northern hemisphere was feeling the feeling the limits of daylight and for my family, it was truly the darkest day of the year. I ran as fast as I could to Seattle (which, on December 23rd, is not that fast).
The days are noticeably longer now. Leaving work tonight, I saw the remnants of the sunset, whereas last week it was dark. We are closer to spring, to renewal, to light. To mom's birthday and to Imbolc, which are almost the same day, the halfway point between winter solstice and the first day of spring. Forgive the hippie digression; I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and it makes perfect sense to me. Imbolc is the first of February, when it is usually bitterly cold, when I am going stir crazy in the rain in Seattle or the snow in NY. It is also the time of year that the first crocuses break out from the frozen ground. Those first sprouts look so fragile, but they are mighty. They are determined to fight the freeze, to grow up towards the light. This is my mom. She's an Imbolc baby: born January 30th, beautiful and delicate looking, but fiercely fighting for her patch of sunlight. I never knew the extent of her power until now, but she's as determined as the first flowers of February to live and thrive.
Today was another perfect example of her iron will. She is so determined not to have a feeding tube that she ATE. She complained of painful indigestion, but still she ate almost an entire grilled cheese sandwich, some katie shake, the strudel drink she likes and more delectable food from the same marvelous cook who brought the chicken and potatoes she loved a couple of days ago. Another dear friend is working on solutions to the stomach upset so hopefully she'll be able to eat that much (or more!) without the discomfort. She also had a shower today-an occupational therapist helped her, but did not do as good of a job as me (my assessment, not Mom's). She said it felt great to get clean, but that there weren't enough warm blankets and the water wasn't warm enough. Clearly, the OT didn't need to have 27 towels; she wasn't planning to flood the bathroom like I do. She probably also didn't get in with Mom, which is the best way to soak through your clothes, but also to tell if the water temperature is okay. Hopefully Mom can hold off for a week until I get there to do the next one. My showers may be way messier, but I love them.
Radiation required more mapping today, so it was longer and uncomfortable. But she has a break for the weekend-the only procedure she has scheduled for Saturday and Sunday is physical therapy, which is so so good for her. She says it's really hard, but she always seems stronger, more alert and hungrier after PT, so I'm really glad it's back on the daily schedule.
We're all hoping for an easy weekend, that she gets some much needed rest and can eat more comfortably. She still has an uphill battle before breaking through the frozen ground.