As all should when diagnosed with a illness that will most likely take your life, one should get a second opinion and my mom has. I don't know about elsewhere in this country but here in the Midwest, when you say cancer one automatically thinks of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. So after securing an appointment, my parents made the long journey up there. Unfortunately, the diagnosis didn't change nor the prognosis. However, the doctor that might be treating my mom said he has one patient with the same thing who is going on 15 years and another handful pushing 7 to 8 years. All are well beyond the 3 year median statistic.
There is also hope that my mom may qualify for a new experimental radiation therapy. Currently, they create a MRI map of sorts of my mom's brain and a mold of her head to hold it in place. They they radiate the area of her brain where the cancer was and a few cells of it still remain. However, this is like cutting a tomato with a chainsaw. Sure it works but perhaps isn't the most effective way to go about it. The new therapy creates the map using a PET scan which is more more accurate about identifying any stray cancer cells left behind. With this information, they can blast more radiation in smaller areas with the hopes of killing more of the remaining cells without damage to the rest of the brain tissue. This is important because the area affected controls my mom's motor skills for the left side of her body.
My mom now has internet again and has researched all this and now knows the life expectancy for people with anaplastic astrocytomas which I think is a good thing. Hopefully it will allow her to get everything in order and do those things in life that up till now she has been putting off. I'm not sure what all those are but I do know I will do my best to allow them to come true. Overall, Mom's spirits are still high and we are all hoping for the slimmest chance of a miracle yet and enjoying life and each other while waiting.
My dad on the other hand has been taking things hard. I can see in his eyes the lack of sleep and the sadness of perhaps a couple decades of life without his companion of over 35 years. Smiles and humor, both trademarks of interacting with him are much harder to come by these days. I'm hoping all these things will improve as we all grapple with shock we have been dealt and move into the acceptance stages.