Cancer - Journal of Omnifarious
Mar. 31st, 2004
10:40 pm - Cancer
My mom has had cancer now for several years. It started as arthritis. They gave her a powerful drug for her arthritis, and like all such drugs, it mucked with her immune system. This one mucked with it in such a way, that some white blood cells mutated and started running wild. She was diagnosed with lymphoma after going to the doctor about pains that she'd never had before.
They put her on chemotherapy designed to kill off her immune system. She had to take a long leave from work in order to do this. Since my half-sister at the time worked for the state, along with my mom, she was allowed by a state program to give her vacation time to my mom. So, my mom was able to keep her job and her paycheck and her insurance.
I suspect though, that they would've found a way regardless. My mom (despite being an early fan of GW Bush) is an extremely bright, talented and capable woman. Despite being an administrative assistant, she is probably more valuable to her community college than any of the administrators or professors. I think some of them realize this. I think they would've found a way.
The chemotherapy initially appeared to work. But, I recently learned that the lymphoma has come back. They're pulling out the big guns now. They're going for stem-cell replacement therapy.
I know about that treatment, and it's impressively intricate. They take stem cells from your bone marrow, then they grow the healthy ones in culture. In the meantime, they give you some extremely nasty chemotherapy that even reaches into your bone marrow to kill off all of your stem cells. No more white blood cells. Nor more red. The means by which your body creates them is destroyed. Then, they re-implant the healthy ones they've been growing in culture. With any luck, you will no longer have lymphoma.
I'm worried about my mom. But, there's a rift between us right now that I'm not sure if ever can be healed. So, most of my worrying is done from afar. Since that's hard, I mostly just don't think about it a lot.
Because I think so much of my mom though, I want to share some of what she's created with you. Among other things, she's a talented artist. She's worked in clay, she's worked on canvas, and more recently, she's worked with textiles. I have some samples of her artwork that I took 3 years or so ago, when I last visited.
So, be nice to my server. These pictures are big, and I don't have infinite bandwidth:
- These two are her rendition of the pink receptionist bug from Douglas Adams' Restaurant At the End of the Universe
- A cute pottery pink cat my mom made. She had a bunch of these in different colors with somewhat different decorations.
- A recent project, a wall hanging that she did that now is on the wall of the college president's office
- A series of pictures panning along a shelf of my mom's pottery
- A marvelous painting, inspired by the work of Paul Klee, but uniquely my mom's. My mom has some more original work as paintings, but she often studied and improved her style by trying on the styles of other artists.