Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Dr. Kroos called me early this morning to tell me Mother has two lumps in her right breast. He recommended a surgeon examine it further. I took Mike to the gym, then went to the nursing home. She was still in the bed, in good spirits, but denied right off there was anything wrong with her. I saw and felt of the lumps, and they are each pretty hard, about as big around as a quarter, but solid and deep. Her aide came in while I was there, and said her appetite has not been good lately. She seems to be in a decline. I hate to subject her to all the probing and prodding they will do to her breasts, but we can’t deny medical care when she needs it. I definitely don’t want her undergoing surgery or chemotherapy if it turns out to be cancerous. At 87, she deserves to be made comfortable until the end. It’s what I would want for myself, and given her aversion for doctors and hospitals, I know that’s what she would say if able to make rational decisions for herself.

She’s begged me for years to “take her home.” Usually when I question her, she wants to go to Walnut Grove where her mother, daddy, and Silas are waiting for her. I’ve heard a lot of euphemisms for heaven, but Walnut Grove is unique to her. The life she has now has very little dignity and to prolong that life unnecessarily seems immoral to me.

Breast cancer in the elderly is more common than I realized. For some reason, I always thought it affected women during childbearing years almost exclusively. It doesn’t spread as quickly in the elderly, the doctor told me, because they don’t have estrogen.

From the wee bit of research I’ve already done on the internet, I’ve learned a couple of things. I found this on www.cancer.org

Older women tend to have less aggressive breast cancers than younger women. And women with lymph-node negative breast cancer who are older than 70 survive as long as their contemporaries without breast cancer, according to a new study.

And from www.medicinenet.com I learned this:

Breast lumps can be caused by infections, injuries, non-cancerous growths, and cancer.

The only way to know for sure is to do a biopsy. For the sake of her daughters and granddaughters, we do need to find out for sure. Cancer was not very high on my list of health concerns, and I don’t want to move it up unless I have to. Aunt Margaret had cervical cancer, but I’ve had a hysterectomy. Her mother had colon cancer, but that’s not worried me much either. We really should not take our health for granted, no matter how long Mother lived by doing that very thing.

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