04 June 2007
When I started this blog, I never thought it would be so hard to begin writing about my parents. (Maybe it's knowing that they'll be reading this too? (Hi there!)) But, much of the impetus was to share information about how they're doing, so I'll just have to bite the bullet. Here goes...
First, a little background information that you may or may not know. My mother was first diagnosed with cancer in 1999. I remember that April, she and my dad were visiting me in Los Angeles, and she almost casually complained of severe stomach pains that kept her up at night. Apparently this had been going on for months, and finally it got to the point where she went to the hospital for a full check-up at the Tokyo Women's Medical University where she was teaching English to medical students. The day of my graduation from USC film school, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. A week later, she had major surgery -- and stayed in remission for seven years.
Then, about a year and a half ago, she started having problems again. But it had been so long since her first diagnosis, and various tests showed no indication of cancer -- so frankly, we never imaginged it was back. But it was. Is. Our doctors believe it's the same strain of stomach cancer, except now metastasized -- primarily in her peritoneum, or the lining of the abdominal cavity.
She had surgery again last August, and has been on a chemotherapy regimen since then. Aside from the cancer itself, the primary issue is pain control. She suffers from various types of pain, especially after eating; luckily, just a small dosage of medication will alleviate it, but not only does she hate taking pills, they often make her very very tired and unfocused. Lately, she's been trying a new painkiller patch that she just swaps out every three days, and I think she likes it better than oxycontin, which she was taking earlier. But the patch still makes her very drowsy.
Still -- she's often out and about. She teaches part-time every Monday through July; she sings every Sunday morning with a choir (they're preparing for a concert in August); the last two weekends, she's been on trips to the mountain (with her watercolor painting group) and the sea (with her French cooking class). I hardly ever get to see her!*
My dad, meanwhile, has been holding the fort at home, when he's not at school teaching English. Of course, he's worried sick about my mom, and her attempts to convince him to stop worrying have not gone far (particularly as he is the sensitive type). They love each other so much...
I think this is about all I can write right now. But now that the groundwork is there, hopefully I'll be able to post updates more easily.
*By "see," I mean on iSight -- a web cam. A couple of Christmases ago, Mark had the brilliant idea of getting them a camera, so now we have international video conferences on a regular basis. The picture above is from a chat last October. The other picture is a water color painting of kumquats that my mom did.