Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's never what it seems

I feel bad - I haven't updated this site. I've updated in a number of other places, but not here. I'm so sorry about that.

Here's the short story:
On Oct 12 I left for Europe, planning to spend 6 days in London, Lille (France), and Paris with two grad school friends. I had slightly unpleasant flights to London after a bit of a fiasco with KLM (thank you, Delta, for saving my butt and my luggage) and spent 2.5 days in London with a coworker from my office, M. Saw some cool things, like Phantom of the Opera, and got lots of great pictures.

On the 16th, we took a train from London to Lille, France (near the Belgian-French border) to meet up with my very, very good friend, K. He was presenting his research at a big international conference, and that was the last day. So M and I wandered around until he was done, then we met with him and one of his coworkers for dinner. The next day, K, M, and I took the train to Paris for the weekend. Together, we went to: the Rodin Museum, Sacre Coeur church, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. We also took a river tour on the Seine. And K and I got to see the Eiffel tower lit up at night from the hilly region of Montmartre as we were leaving Sacre Coeur.

On Monday morning, we all left - K for the US, M back to England (where she's doing research), and me for Spain. Flights were fine, my hostel was fine, I met my future roommate and we got along great. Then I was sick all night, and for the next two days. Fever spiked, sick to my stomach, etc. So I spent my first full day in the hostel common room waiting for E, my roommate, to get off work so I could move in, and my second day in bed in the apartment. Today was supposed to be my first day out, but my body rebelled again and left me in excruciating pain for about 4 hours. So the cats and I bonded.

Now for the important thing:
In Lille, I got a call from my parents with Mom's diagnosis. To my great and utter surprise, it is not lymphoma or multiple myeloma (which I had expected after reading up on the two of them). My mom doesn't have a blood cancer at all.

She has Stage IV, metastatic breast cancer.

I was not prepared for that.

Thankfully, K stayed up and refused to go to bed (though he was utterly fatigued) until I had gotten the call, so he held me while I sobbed... and hyperventilated... and sobbed some more.

Mom has started treatment already. She immediately began hormone therapy - so I'm guessing that means her cancer has estrogen or progesterone receptors - and today was her first round of radiation. She'll have 10 days of intense radiation, and then they'll see where they are. They hope the radiation will shrink some of the tumors in her back and give her some relief from the constant, excruciating pain she's in 24/7. But the radiologist wasn't very hopeful....

I thought I was prepared, but I wasn't. So here we are. Mom and Dad are dealing with all of this. And I'm 5,000+ miles away, supposed to be caring about what some no-name Spaniards did almost 100 years ago. I have no motivation right now. All I want to do is go home (to my parents, that is, not back to my desert, which I refer to as home).

So there we are. My roommate is very nice, her cats have already adopted me - they spent most of the day getting comfort from me during a huge rain storm - and I have seen all of about 6 blocks of Barcelona so far. And I could care less. All I want is to go be with Mom. It's going to be a very, very long 8 weeks.

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