Saturday, June 30, 2012

Aunt Rita's Birthday

On Friday, Aunt Rita. It was her 86th birthday. She liked seeing everyone. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the disease is sapping her strength terribly. All she really wants to do is sleep. My cousin Maryann (who is a nurse) said it's possible that her body is starting to shut down.

She gave my mom and me a very large amount of clothes that don't fit her anymore, because she has lost so much weight. She's down to 100 pounds.

She was a trooper, though, and managed to get up both to eat dinner with everyone, and (after a rest) dessert with all of us, too. My cousin Joe made enough ravioli to feed half the island. Aunt Rita ate soup instead -- her lady friends are very sweet about bringing her care packages of soup they make. The rest of us had ravioli, in some cases multiple helpings, plus everyone got sent home with doggie bags. (But sorry, Mini, those ravs are getting fed to the hoomins in the house.)

My parents gave her a new set of PJs. I gave her several things from the St. Rita of Cascia Shrine's gift shop. I think she liked the statue a lot. I got it for her because I realized that even though she's very devoted to her patron saint, she didn't have a St. Rita statue that I knew of.

Plus, it's hard to think of an appropriate gift for someone who is in this state of health. But her faith is as devout as ever, so I figured that presents that are connected to that would be something she could still appreciate.

It was so hard to see her like this. There has been noticeable deterioration in the past couple weeks... and my parents and I were distressed over her state of health two weeks ago! Now, two-weeks-ago's state of health would look like improvement. :-(

At least she's not in pain, thank God. As hard as it is to see her losing weight and becoming progressively weaker, if she were suffering, too, it would be infinitely worse.

OK, I'm done ranting. Pardon my venting. I guess I'm still de-stressing after seeing my aunt looking so weakened. I've never seen her look like this before.

Moreover, when I came home, and went on Facebook to decompress, what did I see but additional bad news coming from another direction entirely. One of my former fellow Phantoms Season Ticket Holders, who we'll call D.N., was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. I have always felt a particular connection with her battle, and have rooted for her extra-hard to beat the disease, because she got her bad diagnosis on the same day I got a good one. Back before we knew for sure that my health troubles were caused by a giant fibroid, they sent me for a CA-125 blood test: that's the test that helps diagnose ovarian cancer. The same day I got my GOOD news, that there was no cancer, D.N. posted to Facebook that HER doctors had diagnosed her with lung cancer. So I've always been cognizant of the fact that although I had dodged a giant bullet, there are a whole lot of other bullets flying around, and many people are not so lucky as I.

Months later, when D.N. was pronounced cancer-free, everyone celebrated the news. But unfortunately, last night, I saw her post that in one of her followup exams, they have found a mass in her brain. If I were to make a list of things I never wanted to see happen in a billion years, that post would be on it.

So, when you're sending your prayers and positive thoughts out for people, please remember both my aunt and also D.N. .

I really hate, loathe, and despise cancer, especially right now. LOATHE. Every form of it needs to be stamped off the face of the earth. I'd stamp it out myself if I could.

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