So, I’ll get to upgrading and customizing this blog soon enough, adding pictures and links and opening up questions and comments after I’m done gnawing on Thanksgiving turkey wrapped in bacon (yes, I just said that — turkey AND bacon, and I’m just fine with that, quite frankly) while helping mom manage her pain levels and get through her first six weeks of chemo.
While whipping up this blog, several friends suggested I should begin “officially” with a letter I wrote several close friends and coworkers about mom soon after her diagnosis to fill them in on everything. This was, of course, before we’d discovered her lung had actually collapsed several weeks earlier (the doctors originally diagnosed her with walking pneumonia if you can believe that!), or the whole thing might have been very different, tonally (although probably not).
We’ll talk about the lung collapse later. In the mean time, this is me, sharing, in an effort to catch you all up and introduce you to some of the key players of this story:
Pardon the mass e-mail but in this day and age of Jetsons flying cars and double bladed light sabers (oh, wait — that’s only the future in movies! We’re living in the age of Occupy Wall Street! and Tweets about last night’s lasagna), it seemed to be the easiest way to get in touch with all of you, and update you on some recent developments in the Peterson/Jimenez/Hosking household…As most of you have heard, mom (Joe and I affectionately call her Pam! — with the exclamation point) was diagnosed a few weeks back with lung cancer. It came on fast and hard, as such cancers do, and she was debilitated pretty quickly. I essentially moved in with her about four weeks ago to take care of her (although my hope is that this is temporary –!) and while there ain’t shit to do up in Inwood (the original Indians of Manahatta could still live up here and half the island wouldn’t know it), it has allowed me to focus on taking care of her. We both agree that, despite all her pain and anxiety, it’s actually been great to spend the time with each other and I’m grateful that she actually lives so close (and I’m REAL grateful for 666-6666! — Sometimes I call them just to take me home at night. *).
So…it turns out that not only does Pam! have cancer, but she, like, really, really, REALLY has cancer! Through the auspices of her former employers, we were able to get her in to see an incredibly well respected oncologist at Sloan-Kettering on East 53rd (a particularly nice hospital, I must say). After numerous CAT, PET, MRI, and any other number of acronym scans, we found out that not only does Pam! have lung cancer, but that’s spread to her lymph nodes, her adrenal gland, her left breast, her skeleton, and to her skin (she’s getting painful nodules of cancer tissue in her arms!). Seriously, she went for it. She was like, “if I’m gonna get cancer, I want it everywhere, because why the hell not? I can finally fit into a size 4 for the first time since I was 11!” Oh, mom. Such a poor, misguided thing. I told her the Zumba classes would be easier, but she never was one for exercise — and the Lucille Roberts by her office was kind of a dump, anyway.
Breast cancer? Seriously? Skin cancer? Cancer in the skeleton? Lordy. Apparently, this is quite common with lung cancer; it’s aggressive, it spread fast, and it gets everywhere. If you smoke, quit — seriously. Almost all cases of lung cancer and its problems are directly related to smoking. I’m learning more about cancer than I ever expected, but the overriding thing I’ve come to believe is this: smoking really DOES kill. It’s insidious, it’s bad, and it has horrible consequences for the people that do it and the people that love them.
(Off the soap box now).
On the plus side, the cancer has not spread to Pam’s! brain, and our expert oncologist Dr. Azzoli is not ready to put her in hospice yet. He says she’s right on the border, so we’re going to be starting weekly chemo treatments as of next Tuesday, to hopefully slow the spread of the cancer and get some of these tumors from growing. Apparently, she has a good chance of getting some degree of normalcy back into her life if this works, and I might actually get to sleep in my bed again before the end of the year. In the meantime, I’m working at both my studio and on her kitchen table — it’s kind of like being a 16 year old again, making home made comics and prepping my portfolio for San Diego Comic Con and college! (in all honesty, I prefer my studio, especially now that I have such a fun gig).
It must be noted contributions Joe has made in the past few weeks cannot be undersold. Joe is like an angel in human form — he’s been so incredibly helpful and supportive it’s actually kind of annoying. There’s NO way I could take care of Pam! this way without him. If you guys keep Pam! in your thoughts, make sure to keep him in your thoughts, too; he’s going through quite a bit with his own family and *still*he finds a way to be the most awesome son-in-law ever. Make sure to send him a nice note — to Joe@ BeaEmme. com (just kidding — that’s his drag name! ; )) But do keep him in your kind thoughts; he deserves them, more than any body!
I must say, I never expected this to happen to Pam! I truly thought she’d die in her 90’s, choking on food she was wolfing down at some restaurant while trying to talk and eavesdrop on the table next to her at the same time. Lung cancer is terminal; there’s no cure, but the hope is that at least she gets a few good months (maybe even some extra years), and finally gets her ass on that Mediterranean cruise she was supposed to go on before Hurricane whatshername derailed her trip in September. Any one want to plan a trip to Venice, Italy, next year, to meet mom at the Peggy Guggenheim museum there? She’d get a big kick out of that, I think. 🙂
So that’s the update! Pam!’ll probably lose most of her hair in the next six weeks, but it’s not like she had that much any way, so creative thoughts on givin’ the old lady some new ‘do’s would be mightily appreciated (Shelly, I think you might have a few ideas!). I’m not sure what her schedule will be like or when or how she’ll “receive” visitors — (I kind’a like the idea of setting her up like an old British Queen in bed, and having her anoint us with her royal staff (most likely picked up on sale on the JC Penny website — along with her linens and velour matching sweatsuit).
Pam has been nothing but a trooper through all this, with very few tears, and a whole lot of fight. As someone who knew my mother to cry almost every day of my childhood, I’m awed at how she’s set the tears aside, and found the anger to fight what’s going on in her body. It’s impressive and inspiring. I’m not sure what the future holds, and we’re taking it a day at a time. But if there’s one thing I know, which I’ve totally come to believe in my heart, it’s this:
The bitch TOTALLY ruined Christmas.
*666-6666 is a local car service with really cheesy TV ads featuring several young women intoning in their sultry best about how much they love their Carmel drivers. One closes the commercial when she suggestively says, “Sometimes, I call him just to take me home at night!” and all the girls laugh this ridiculous, knowing laugh. It’s absurd, and vaguely offensive, but memorable (perhaps a good sign when it comes to a potent advertisement). Anyway, a bit of regional humor that might have gotten lost on those out of NYC, otherwise. 🙂