So my mother does indeed have breast cancer. Again. A carcinoma, to be more exact. It was detected at her twenty-year checkup and is still very small, for what that's worth. They think it's unrelated to the last episode - an entirely new growth - and although they haven't finished hunting for signs of metastasis they haven't found anything yet. There is a meeting with the surgeon next week, and they will learn more about what sort of things they're planning to cut off and how and why. At some point we will also figure out if there's to be any followup treatment, such as chemotherapy - that plan is still in the process of being formulated. Meanwhile, my mother is reconsidering her position on genetic testing. If she decides to go ahead, and turns out to be positive for any of the known genes, I may have some decisions to make on that front as well.
I feel calmer - actually everyone feels calmer - having put that level of information together. My mother even deigned to talk to me briefly on the phone this morning. My father has instructed me to continue planning the 2014 big family holiday we'd been talking about.
I think we will do better this time. We are all older, and wiser. My sister has obviously gained the knack of putting her foot down and insisting on being informed, as opposed to disintegrating into a blithering mess. My father has learnt a trick or two. (A friend asked him if she should come over to visit my mum and give her comfort. "She's not accepting visitors," he replied, "but don't you need me to have a look at a problem with your laptop or something? We'll both be home Saturday morning and I can check out your machine for a few hours, just make sure it's free of viruses and everything, and maybe you can wait for me in the kitchen with my wife and have a cup of tea, if she feels up to it?") And I, well. I have a couple more tools than I did when I was a teenager, too.
So this is just how it is and we'll just have to do our best and see how it goes.
Maybe I'll go ahead and change my hair colour after all. Why not?