Monday, May 22, 2017

Slightly Broken

For those following this ongoing story, my mom had another MRI last week and I'm happy to report there are no changes. It isn't classified as remission, nor will it ever be, but it isn't growing and I'll take that any day of the week. My mom has been under tremendous stress these past couple weeks with spring planting season in full swing and knowing her life might be turned completely upside down the next MRI. I think this stress causes issues in the damaged parts of her brain and as a result, I see my mom as slightly broken.

It took me a long time to fully understand. When the brain cancer was first diagnosed and subsequently removed, it was described as being done in a way to minimal disturb nearby healthy living brain tissue. This leads you to believe that nothing inside will really be affected. But in reality, that tumor invaded and killed healthy cells well before it was detected and removed. The removal was in affect, removing past healthy brain tissue that is now dead along with some still healthy tissue as they removed as much of the tumor as they could.

After surgery and radiation, I still saw my old mom I have always known. I still see that mom the majority of the time. But as time goes by, I start seeing what was broken. Some sort of filter was removed that allows my mom to be much more aggressive than normal at times. Sometimes it also manifests as delayed decision making. Yet other times it leads to some confusion. I'm not positive since I don't see these manifest every time I'm around or even all that often, but I suspect they happen when she is feeling stressed. Something about her brain dealing with stress is causing her to do or not do things that she normally would.

Even before this diagnosis, my brother and I have been subtly suggesting that our parents should retire and enjoy life while the farming empire they have built continues to support them. After the diagnosis, we stepped it up a notch encouraging them and helping them to understand that if they cash rent out their land, they will have more money to support themselves than they will know what to do with. My dad is already under Medicare and my mom will be eligible in two and a half years so medical bills shouldn't be the issue. They have slowed down some, hiring out some of the spraying, fertilizing and even some of the fall harvest. But it isn't enough to prevent stress. My brother has been up helping with the spring planting for the last couple weeks and finally my parents have admitted that they probably shouldn't have even attempted farming this year and that they do think full retirement is going to happen after the fall harvest. My brother and I are thrilled.

I'm hoping that without the stress, my mom will live a healthier remainder of her life and perhaps even make a serious attempt at crossing off some items on her bucket list at a more rapid pace. I think it will do my dad a world of good as well. They have worked hard for this day and my father will hopefully be the first in a long line of "Abbey's" to retire and not just work until he dies. But first there is still slightly more than half of spring planting season left and another harvest to get through this fall. I plan on enjoying it since it might be my last.


Kelly said...

I'm glad they're thinking ahead and planning to retire. Cash Rent (share crop?) is a good option. I'm sure they know good farmers who would love to work their land.

I'm guessing this is a bit like when stroke victims show some personality changes (my only experience with something like that). I'm pleased for all of you that the MRI showed no new growth.

sage said...

It sounds as if they have some good options and leasing out the land would take off the stress. I'm glad to hear the cancer hasn't spread any more.

Bob said...

Good news that there is no additional growth and good news they will retire. They are still plenty young and should enjoy the fruits of their labors.

kymber said...

Dear Ed - i can hear the concern/worry in your voice (i guess i should say in your writing) and i hope that you are not taking this too hard. you and your brother helping out for this last year (hopefully) at the farm is the proper thing to do. but yes - it is time for your parents to get their stress levels down and go do all the crazy things that they are interested in. are they still biking?

sending you much love. i know that you and your brother are worried. your friend,

Leigh said...

That's great news about your mom, Ed. I know it's a relief for all of you. I agree that stress really takes its toll, even in small ways. The best thing your mom has going is good, strong, loving family support!

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

I bet it is a relief that they have agreed retirement is a good thing and they might enjoy the fruits of their labor for so many years. You are good sons for being so supportive, which I'm sure is a tremendous relief to both of them.

Ed said...

Kelly - It would probably be cash rent for the ease of things and to relieve stressful decisions.

Sage - They are fortunate in that they are surrounded by several families with lots of kids who want to go into farming but don't have enough land. I'm guessing that will help keep the rent at a premium.

Bob - I hope so but I'm not going to count their chickens until they hatch!

Kymber - I have my moments for sure. I continue to hope for the best, a cure, even remission but everything I have read points to less than four years. But brain cancer is evolving at a rapid pace and statistics just five years old are not valid anymore. At the end of the day I am just trying to be there for my mom as much as possible to bring as much joy into her life however long it lasts. They are still bicycling and are planning an Iceland/southern England trip later this year.

Leigh - Thank you!

Pumpkin Delight - I think they are a bit disappointed that they aren't handing the reigns over to one of their sons to continue the farm but we've both been successful in our careers and marriages so I'm sure that is a bigger priority than who is actually turning the earth of their farm. It will still remain in the family and I plan to pass it on to my children.