Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Toughest Grandma in the World...and a message from her too!

I drove 1,404 miles from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Norman, Oklahoma to see my grandma. She had been in remission of stage 4 inflammatory carcinoma breast cancer for a few years but was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. Grandma’s been battling it, true to her feisty spirit, but the cancer had teamed up with the escalating damage of emphysema, and it had gotten to the point where I finally said, “I need to go home.” My husband understood of course, and thankfully, my employer showed compassion as well. Grandma asked me why I had come, and I said, “To spend time with you before you get any sicker.” She nodded and simply said okay. I’ve been here a few hours short of a week now, and every moment with her has been precious and cherished.

She’s doing okay right now, and I’m optimistic she can get stronger. But it will be a tough journey…she really can’t exert herself at all without struggling for breath. The oxygen helps, but the emphysema cannot be reversed. She still tries to do it all herself when she feels like she has the energy. I catch her and listen to her breath become labored and finally ask her, “Why are you doing all of this when I’m here? Sit down, woman!” There’s always a chuckle, but luckily she listens to me and happily lets me do the moving, grabbing, bringing, taking, and so on for her.

Our family comes to check on her every day, and they’ve been taking care of her meals and doctor visits and such…it’s definitely a group effort. But, I really like being available for her 24/7, and it’s going to be hard to leave her when I have to go home. Grandma has said she doesn’t want me to leave; of course she knows I’ll have to eventually; so I just say, “Let’s not think about it right now.”

I recorded some videos of her telling stories, and will be taking lots of pictures, as we photographers tend to do! I’m hoping I can talk her in to letting me get a wheel chair and taking her to the art museum while I’m here…I think I can be persuasive haha! I just want to bring some fun to her so that she’s not just sitting and reading all the time…not that there’s anything wrong with that…but I want to make just a few more lovely memories with her right now. Maybe she can beat this…she’s determined and her attitude is encouraging…maybe this is just another struggle that my tough, feisty, and stubborn grandma will bravely conquer. She inspires me and strengthens me…If there is a person to truly believe in and root for…she’s my grandma.

Here’s a message from her to our family and friends who’ve been raising prayers, sending good vibes, and sharing love. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement you’ve all expressed…it truly means the world to my family, grandma, and me!

 (Had to upload video via YouTube. Hopefully it works! I will also upload her stories there at some point as well, but I will share them on here to let y'all know.)

*Update* I'm back in Virginia now, and although I loved the 3 weeks with my grandma, it just wasn't long enough. And the truth is...I don't think any amount of time with her could ever be long enough...I'll always want another story, another hug, another laugh...but let's not think about that right now! It was a wonderful visit with her. I took her to get her hair cut and to try a latte at Daylight Donuts; we had a couple of trips to the grocery store; we had a couple of trips to the doctor's office; we had a lesson on her egg noodles our family adores; we had moments of silence where we both read or napped...it was simply just a time for us to be together.

She was doing well at first. After chemo, she gradually got weaker and sadder, but then bounced back after that. Then her feet and ankles became so swollen it hurt to walk...a trip to the doctor, order to cut back on sodium, and a prescription of Lasiks took care of that. However, she was not drinking enough water and therefore became dehydrated and weak. I rallied the family to help persist that she drink more water. These were my last days with her before I left, and our family has shared with me that she's staying hydrated and getting better now. It was an emotional time with her...being with her through the ups and downs of all that comes with lung cancer, emphysema, and the side effects that come with the medicines and treatments. I did not want to leave. I held her hand and told her several times in those last moment, "Call me if you need me to come back. Call me if you want me to come back. There will be no problem...I will come back no matter what." My sister and my mama assured me that they would be with her all the time like I had been those weeks...I cried and cried and didn't want to say goodbye. I hugged Grandma over and over...it was a struggle to let go of her.

I don't know what condition she'll be in next time I see her. I pray that she wins this fight like the many fights she has won before. But, I also know she is ready for whatever may happen next. I'm grateful I got to spend so much time with her...grateful for the videos and photos I captured...grateful for her stories...grateful for her stubborn ways...

I love you so very very very much, Grandma!

Cherish your time with those you love, my dears. Hugs and love, my lovelies!


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