Holding my breath

It has been a long and emotionally exhausting day. For the last two weeks, when we learned of my mother’s kidney cancer (urethelial transitional carcinoma, typically associated with bladder cancer) both my mother and I have worked hard to be strong for the other. But this morning as she was prepped for surgery, the veneer started to crack. The fears we both had—that this has metastasized, that something wrong would happen in surgery, that was soon to die—came squarely at us. Our good-bye as she was wheeled to the operating room was painful and difficult.

My emotions have been kept in check, bubbling just below the surface. The moment a kindness was expressed the vulnerability started rising in my throat. But I’ve managed to keep that in check. Perhaps not the healthiest approach, but it was a fine balance between allowing myself to feel the full brunt of my fears and sadness and not getting carried away with my imagination.

Tonight she is resting in a private room on the 13th floor at UCSF, with panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. It’s gorgeous up there. The team could not be more caring, friendly and knowledgeable. Although a large academic medical center can be overwhelming to many people, I feel perfectly at ease in that environment.

The surgeon is so sincere, so real, while at the same time being a nationally recognized urologist. I was having a “moment” when he appeared in the waiting room. The surgery (nephrectomy) ran smoothly as planned. She has four small incisions, the largest just big enough to pass a four-ounce kidney. She’s expected to be discharged Wednesday.

No subsequent plans for radiation or chemotherapy, but a very close monitoring of her bladder and other kidney. We are heading into “cancer survivor” territory—the careful, every three months, watchfulness. I can already feel myself holding my breath.

2 thoughts on “Holding my breath”

  1. Best wishes Emily, I hope your mom pulls through okay (just happened on your blog in my bookmarks and read the sad news)

  2. Thanks. Surgery went well. Follow-up lab results are normal. All is good. We’re on close surveillance now.

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