Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Six Months, or So

I have posted very little about my mother, but have mentioned from time to time on the podcast that my wife has been in Phoenix caring for my mom and I have been going back and forth to there on the weekends. My mom has cancer and for some time now the doctors have been struggling with a more definitive diagnosis so they could determine what if anything could be done about it.

It's back now: metastasized breast cancer with full involvement on both kidneys. Stage IV, inoperable, six months. Or so.

Having been involved with my mom on an almost daily basis since the end of August of 2004 with this, when she called me out of the blue to tell me she had a large tumor in her breast that she had told no one about. I flew down that day to check her into the hospital, where the nurses and the doctors examined her and exchanged knowing looks... the size of the tumor was much too large, she clearly had waited too long...

...only that tumor ended up being a very rare and highly treatable variety. She also had a much smaller tumor on her other breast of the more malevolent kind, but they were confident they got it all out during surgery. Turns out they didn't.

But what made things so much more difficult for my mom for over a year now was her sudden stroke last February. She made some progress in rehab, but has gone steadily downhill over the last 15 months. She is no longer able to toilet herself or even get up and walk without assistance. Add to that the growing pain from the cancer, and my mom will probably not see a bettter day than the ones she's had before.

The depths of compassion of my wife through all of this have been absolutely remarkable. Where I lose my patience, she soldiers on. Where I feel resentful or depressed, she injects cheer. What a gift... more precious than gold.

But I mention all of this because I have an observation to make, and a confession. My most present sentiment is that I am looking forward to all of this being over and getting my family back. I'm not proud of it, and I know that I will regret this after my mom passes, but some honesty here may help somebody else in a similar situation. I gather these feelings are not unusual, and I'm not surprised. I guess what I am surprised about is just how powerful they are. I confess I felt palpable relief when I found out that my mom was not going to persist for years in her present state.

I do want to see my mom comfortable and to see her reconciled to her other two sons. And I want to see her content that she has lived a good life and will see her God. This certainly isn't about me.

But this blog is, and I wanted to be open about my sentiments after my mom's prognosis.

20 Comments:

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Zeke... very sorry to hear about your Mom's prognosis. I know it is a difficult and emotional time. May you all have an insurmountable amount of grace and peace during this time.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Kc said...

Brother please know our prayers continue for you all. I felt the same as you when we took my mom to a hospice and I am certain we are not alone in that as you say. I know that is no reflection of any lack of love but when all hope of recovery is taken then the hope of the future must be on the other side of this life. May God strengthen and comfort you all as only He can.

 
At 9:19 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Right on. thanks for sharing.

I lost my dad to cancer nine years ago.

God's peace and grace to her and your family on this journey.

 
At 5:58 PM, Blogger Pia said...

zeke, sorry to hear about your mom but please know that we're praying for you. it's God's will to heal His children and so i pray that your mom will receive her miracle. but His will be done. i pray for strength for all of you and comfort as you all go through this trial. if there's anything else you want me to pray for you, please let me know.

God be with you.

 
At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I am curious, since you have been so open and honest about your mom, her struggle and your feelings, do you think that A) parents should be permitted to genetically test their children before they are born so that parents do not have to bear the burden of having daughters born with the genetic marker for breast cancer (just approved in the UK last week) and B) your mother should have the right to end her life with the help of her physician (legal in Oregon and being proposed in CA)if she decides to check out earl?. Obviously these real life situations give context to what can often seem like remote debates.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

Zeke, thanks for having the pair to share your thoughts with your friends. I don't think such sentiments are uncommon, and judging from what I know of you, I do not consider them selfish.

One of the Psalms says that the death of a believer is precious in God's eyes. I think it's because that moment is a moment in which everything is suddenly made right. Sounds like that's what you're looking for.

Love to your mom, and Mrs. Zeke (she's awesome).

And you, too.

 
At 7:09 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Anonymous:

So I am curious?? Since you have been so insensitive as to ask questions like this at a time like this....

Are you always an idiot or do you just become one when you can hide behind being anonymous?

There's a time and a place for these types of questions? This seems to be the wrong place and time to ask Zeke questions regarding social mores, politics and genetic research... In my opinion you are a schmuck.

Now you have heard my thoughts.

 
At 8:50 AM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Thank you all for giving Zeke such kind words I know they mean allot while we are in a place we can do nothing about in regards to fixing it.

Zeke there is nothing wrong with wanting the things you love. Not wanting the stress this illness has brought or its splitting of our family. I also do not think you will have the regrets you think you will cause you have done everything that you can to honor and love mom there is nothing to regret in that. I know as much as I love mom I also love having control over my time which I do not have now. That does not make me bad to miss my freedom its just reality. Don't beat yourself this wretched disease does that enough to all of us.

What you have given her is so much as the other two boys have been estranged. She trust you, loves you and thinks your the bomb. She knows this is hard, but she also knows because your a man like you are we will not leave her side. What else can you give her ? you are giving everything you can, God has to do the rest.

Exhale babe

I love you, im pretty sure God loves you better

 
At 3:56 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

"It's a long and lonesome ride, when your friends have all gone Home..."

Eileen's Song


Zeke, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom; I know this has been a difficult time for you and Mrs. Zeke and the whole family.

I hope your mom can experience God's presence and love in a very palpable and powerful way during these days, so that when she finally sees Him face-to-face, there won't be much difference.

Thanks so much for sharing your struggle and your heart on this. You are in my thoughts.

 
At 9:36 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Zeke, I so appreciate your honesty.

I have felt the same with a friend who is quite ill...but not ill enough to pass on. In a similar situation, cannot feed, toilet herself, etc.

It's quite difficult and I have pulled away lately, which I feel horrible for. But between that and other circumstances affecting our friendship, it's just been so difficult.

I so appreciate your candor and honesty. I know it may certainly help others who experience such guilt over similar (yet likely universal) feelings.

I am sorry that you are having to go through all of this, and I am also encouraged by the deep love of your wife for you and her mother-in-law.

Thank you.

 
At 9:37 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Steve, A-fricking-men on your comments to Anonymous.

 
At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because of my concern for the hate speech I opted for the anonymous route. And it seems that concern was based in reality with the typical ad hominem attacks...my questions were not asked because I wanted to be an 'insensitive schmuck'. But these are exactly the times to ask these types of questions. These are real questions facing real people and we need to hear and learn from those who are in the heat. If we talk about them in those non urgent times they can often seem remote and merely academic. Like WWJD kinds of obsurdity. Why don't we ask Jesus what he'd do?? Go to the source. Is it not the sick who need the doctor? Zeke- as I said, I'd really be interested in hearing your thoughts. I would very much value your reflections.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger Steve said...

ANON... I disagree with you... whoever you are.

 
At 6:04 PM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Anonymous, The reason you got the response you did is because if you knew Zeke at all you would know it is very hard for him to be open in this manner. So for you to ask the question seemed harsh even though that may not be what you intended.

First The breast cancer that is taking his mom's life is not the kind that has genetic markers. In fact a small percentage is. Hormonal breast cancer plays a larger role then the ones that come from the genetic predisposition and she does not even have that. The breast cancer that is killing her is in less then 3% of the breast cancer population. Since hormonal factors play the largest role you would have to consider baby girls to wipe out since that is the main factor.

Further you also don't know and it is why I am addressing this, me, his wife if perfect genetic selection was the way would not be here cause I suffer from a DNA screw up that affects 1 in 2500 Caucasian births, I just happen to be one of a very few still alive. There are times I have been so ill that it would have been easy for someone who thought MY quality of life was bad, could have manipulated the issue.

Thankfully I would rather suffer every painful thing this body could withstand and many I have and more I will if it means one minute with anyone of my dear loved ones. I would not miss those for any.

When my mother died of ALS cause you could make the same argument for the auto-immune illnesses that some people are more apt to catch the last year of her life was filled with so much peace and harmony. Because illness changes you like little else and I could have pushed her under the guides of what is really the best because of quality of life to end it. Maybe even in some places justified, its hard to lift 168 pounds of dead weight when you only way 120. Its hard to get up every hour or less cause she could not move her legs and her feet not being straight bothered her. Its hard to be sick and lose the ability to clean yourself, dress yourself or provide any self care. Do you have any idea the gift we give those who can not when we do it with respect, honor, mercy and love. We give them the same grace God gave us. You are accepted and loved just how you are.
There is nothing greater to give and nothing more powerful to accept.

These people who reach the end of the life and bear it, knowing the end is coming are some of the bravest and wise people you will ever encounter.

It is extremely hard to be sick and a good manipulator beating a tired mind could be very dangerous.

Burden's are perceptions. Change the angle and they become sources of change.

Your loved just the way you are also.

 
At 7:57 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

I'll respond to anonymous. With regard to A), a coworker of mine and his wife aborted her baby because there was a high risk for Down's Syndrome. I found this deeply disturbing... they may very well, out of fear, missed out on blessings that they couldn't contain.

With regard to B), there are methods of advanced pain management that make end stage diseases much more bearable while allowing nature to run its course.

As for either, the final choice is one that those making it will have to bear into eternity. Bottom line is, it's their choice legal or not. Taking either way out is trying to change the rules of the game and, in my opinion (and only my opinion) not the best choice.

No Scripture to share on this one. Just a conviction that I would hope that people in those situations allow life to play itself out and not deny themselves the outcome of trusting the process.

 
At 10:28 PM, Blogger Ex Pastor's Kid said...

Zeke, I feel you on this one. My wife and I have a baby in the hospital at the moment -- I just returned from visiting him. He's really sick, they opened up his ribs to give him open heart surgery a couple of days ago. Twice offered up as a termination, our baby was usually my wife's baby when we went in for ultrasounds and these "options" were discussed -- as if I were not in the room. It's so sad and so good to be incarnational in taking on, as much as possible, the pain of the one hurting without clouding the issue with bullshit doctrine or opinion that makes the giver feel better than the receiver anyway. So I feel the pain. Partly.

 
At 11:54 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

Damn ExPK, that's a heavy load to bear for you and your wife. The kind of thing that no little baby and his or her parents should ever have to bear. Keep us updated, and thank you for sharing.

 
At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zeke- Thank you for your comments, they really helped me a lot with my own thinking. I have not been involved with a church body for sometime now as I have found 'church folk' to be the meanest in town....always quick to hit you over the head if you ask the 'wrong' question. Awhile ago a couple in church opted to 'terminate' a pregnancy b/c the baby was deformed (aren't we all in some way!) and it was a horrible situation and caused much division...and now I find myself faced with an aging father who has asked for 'help' to end his life when it becomes too unbearable.

Sorry Mrs. Zeke- you are right, I dont' know Zeke (this is the www isn't it?) and if this is a private blog I am sorry for intruding. I was just searching for 'truth' and found my way here...

 
At 6:33 AM, Blogger jeff said...

First of all, I'd like to say to Zeke & Mrs. Zeke, I'm truly sorry for the dificulty you are facing. But your willingness to share it with and entrust it to brothers and sisters is admirable.

There's a song by Rita Springer that always comes to mind in such situations: "It's gonna be worth it...".

Bless you both for your faithfulness to take care of someone in need. It shows just how valuable her life really is.


Regarding anonymous bloggers trying to start stuff, if your sincerity is so authentic, why not email Zeke personally. His email is on his profile. Why bring it up on a public forum?

The fact that Zeke even answered you, instead of telling you to jump off a cliff is a testament to the grace of God at work in His life.

But in spite of all this, remember: (quoting someone I deeply respect...) you're loved!!

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Ex Pastor's Kid said...

Zeke, I'm starting to put some updates on my blog at downwithjabez.com. Thanks for caring. Really.

 

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