This is my sister, Paula. My sister and my best friend. Here, she is dancing with a period photo from the 30s of the great German Expressionist, Mary Wigman, founder of our branch of modern dance.
About a month ago, Paula was diagnosed with cancer when, while at a doctor’s appointment, her femur just snapped. I first wrote about it in a beautiful post by @John_M2 called “The Bravery of Children, The Shame of Adults.”
So. An update: It is indeed Stage IV lung cancer. They did an almost magical job of repairing her leg–not only inserting a rod, but rebuilding bone from the fragments that occurred when it snapped due to brittleness. She has ongoing radiation on the leg and begins chemotherapy on 12/14. She hopes to go home about 12/8 when she can finally put weight on it and learn to use a walker.
Chemo will cycle through several times and end on 2-22-16. At that point, they will do an assessment. If we are some of the lucky few she will have a year or a little more from that point.
My brother got there from CA right away and took care of a lot bureaucratic stuff to get her set up in a rehab center and for Medicaid to kick in. I will be going to Minneapolis from Portland for two weeks beginning 12/4—on Amtrak, thankfully, in a cozy room where I will be well cared for going and coming home.
One of the ways I cope is to channel my Swedish Mom by getting pragmatic and gathering information. I have several questions for this specific phase ( I have served on several hospice teams, including my mother’s, and we aren’t there yet).
Her partner of decades is not getting good info about how to stimulate her appetite–remember it is not chemo yet–and feels she is losing too much weight for so early in the process. Any ideas?—oh and she is not diabetic–some arthritis, though not as bad as mine.
Although I will be there for only the first chemo session, I would like to bring or ship things to support her through chemo–apparently the drug combo is not as harsh as some and post treatment nausea is briefer. Can one read, watch a DVD, listen to music, TV? Will she be cold–would a soft Pashmina shawl be a comfort? I would be delighted to read to her if it is appropriate–my whole family are (is?) readers. We are big huggers–will she hurt all over, though?
I realize every case, every person will react differently to these treatments, but there is no big history of cancer in our gene pool–on either side—so we are still quite stunned. I got the diabetic gene from our Dad. My brother has a weird tendon deformity in his hands that has needed surgical correction every decade or so—it is common to those of Nordic descent. But there is only one case of spleen cancer about 4 generations back. Any advice is most welcome, my dear community, my original online home.
Here is Paula in about 1977. We were all together in Portland from all over and everybody was broke. Her partner was a composer. For gifts that year they wrote music and choreographed and performed a special short solo for each family member. This was mine, called “Approach”…