Posts Tagged ‘statistics’


WordPress provides certain stats about hosted blogs, including search terms that lead people to this blog in particular. I got a lot more page views when I was posting weekly and when I had more important things to say. I guess lots of people were very interested in mom’s condition, but not so many are interested in mine.

Over the past 30 days, these are the search terms that brought people here:

i will remember my mother 2
prayer of a daughter 2
why did bodhidharma come from the west 1
praying for daughter to do the right thing 1
lung cancer prayer 1
eulogy for mom from daughter 1
+free thanksgiving prayer to my daughter 1
mom’s eulogy 1
prsyrd for mother to rest in peace 1
ssmallpoems about mom going to heaven but always knowing she be there 1
rest in peace momma 1
prayer for eulogy 1
rest in peace prayers 1
prayer for a daughter who seems not to listen 1
loss of a daughter prayer 1

Some of these search terms are interesting. I have no idea why “why did Bodhidharma come from the west” pointed people to my page. This is a Zen koan, so maybe the fact that I tagged some posts with Zen made a difference. Kind of interesting. If Buddhists are finding their way here interested in learning how to deal with things like losing a mother to a terminal illness, I’d point them to Brad Warner’s books. He’s much more eloquent than I. (Also, I do have to say that I worry about people who think they’re going to find an answer to that koan on the Internet. It’s a koan, which by definition has no answer. So get back to your meditation cushions, people.)

I also like “prayer for a daughter who seems not to listen.” I wonder about that parent. I assume it’s a mother, but I guess I can’t know for sure. I think we all go through a stage in our teenage years when we stop listening to our parents. It’s a difficult time for everyone. I have a feeling that printing out a pre-made prayer for such a daughter would only make things worse. 😉

I was looking around at all the 17- and 18-year olds in my dance class last Wednesday. They all seem so young to me, but I’m still young enough to remember what I felt like when I was that age, how old I felt and how I felt so sure that I knew everything, or at least more than my parents did. I see so much potential in their faces: innocence, youth, boundless future. And there is no way to tell those girls that they have that inside of them. They can’t listen. It’s an impossibility. It’s like that speech Baz Luhrmann gave to a graduating class…there’s in line there that goes something like,

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, nevermind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You are not as fat as you imagine.

100% true. Anyway, I hope that people who randomly make their way to this blog find something of value to them. Our own personal experience are valueless if we cannot find a way to put them to use in serving others.

I realized this when I ran into a co-worker (we’ll call D) the other day who said she had been out visiting a friend in the hospital. I asked her if her friend was okay, and then the conversation turned…she told me her mother had metastasized breast cancer. Her mom’s 71, and she’s living with D. I said, “Oh, so you’re the primary caregiver?” and then D said that she was and that her father was living with them too, but he had Parkinson’s.

Oh. My. Goodness.

“You need a hug!” was my first reaction, and so I gave her one. “I’m here if you need to talk,” was my second. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I think that’s the best thing one could say to a caregiver. Caregiving is HARD. I was not a full-time caregiver, but the time that I spent caring for my mom was extremely taxing. I cannot imagine having a stage IV mother and a father with Parkinson’s living with me. (Her husband is there, too, so I guess there’s that…but what kind of toll is this taking on the marriage?!) Hugs are good. As is empathy. And having someone to talk with who’s been through something similar has to be a blessing. I hope I can be of service. To her and to everyone who is going through something like this.


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Dad got the results back from the spot they removed from his lower eyelid. Here’s about how it went:

Me: “How are you feeling?”

Dad: “Not as bad as I’m gonna be.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Dad: “It’s cancer.”

Me: “Hah! You’re kidding, right?”

Sometimes there’s just nothing left to do but laugh. It’s either that or fall apart, I think.

The good news is that it’s minor, basal cell carcinoma, and not melanoma. (Dad said he jokes with the doctors and calls it oregano cell.) I actually found a lot of information about it. Unlike in mom’s case, the information I’m finding is putting me more at ease. Well, everything except the pictures. Yuck.

Dad’s going to try to schedule surgery soon. He said they weren’t going to put him under for it, but I can’t imagine how else they’re going to do it. I would not be able to sit still while someone freezes off my eyelid. No thanks. LASIK was bad enough.

Mom is getting worse. Dad’s worried that it’s her heart. Hopefully she’ll be able to see someone soon who will do more than give her energy pills.

It’s going to be fun for a while. I’m glad I’m working at a place that allows me some flexibility in terms of where and when I work. I have a very supportive manager, so it will be easier for me to hang around the house and help out since both of my parents will be laid out for a while.

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I got to speak with my parents a bit last night, and they’re hanging in there, though I think the reality of the situation is finally settling over them.  I wish I could be there full-time.  Dad said he took mom for a walk, but they didn’t get very far she she was so short of breath.  They’re still waiting for the blood-clot medicine to kick in so she can breathe better.

Lab results were still not in.  They have a friend who works in the Duke system, so she is able to check on things and provide close to real-time information, which is awesome.  I don’t know if they’ve come in today, but it looks like we won’t really know the next step until next Wednesday.

I was looking around at different medical sites, which probably isn’t a good idea, but I came across this one that had some interesting information:

20.13 Varying Survival Statistics for Stage 4

Survival reports differ. Some are favorable: “The 5-year cumulative survival rate was 88.0% for patients in stage IA, 53.9% in stage IB, 33.5% in stage II, 14.7% in stage IIIA, 5.5% in stage IIIB and 7.0% in stage IV.” Wu (1). “The 5-year survival rates for these patients were as follows: stage I, 68.5%; stage II, 46.9%; stage IIIA, 26.1%; stage IIIB, 9.0%; and stage IV, 11.2%.” Naruke (2). Others are dim, reporting survival rates of 20-30 weeks in clinical trials, even those receiving chemotherapy.

It may well be the status of the patient, since we know that the overall health or performance status, as well as the number of lymph nodes involved and other factors influence survival. A 45 year patient with a small area of metastasis in otherwise good health should do better than an older patient with COPD and multiple metastases. Those looking for hope can legitimately find it, not in bizarre reports from other countries, but legitimate clinical trials. Those looking for stark reality may find that the prospects of overall cure are limited.

20.14 Mental Attitude

Some would suggest attitude can play a role and that the willingness to fight and undergo treatment can extend life. The author of The Cancer Patients Handbook wrote the book while 3 years post-diagnosis for stage 4 NSCLC.
A patient in a support group wrote:

“I was diagnosed 7/99 with stage 4 NSCLC and chose to have chemo (taxol and carboplatin). Over three years later I am in remission and still enjoying life. I grant you that it is not life as I knew it before, but it is still quite enjoyable. So please, everyone who has lung cancer, don’t think there isn’t any use to fight it. I am living proof that for some, the outcome is NOT always the same and there is a possibility of living much longer than the statistics say.” Acor.org support group.

Now to switch topics a bit, I think it’s a widely accepted fact that folks tend to turn to their faith(s) when in sticky situations, and I have rather unsurprisingly found myself examining my own beliefs.  I am not a Christian (which isn’t to say that I don’t believe in the power of prayer…I just think it’s powerful for different reasons).  I associate myself most closely with the Soto Zen Buddhists.

Last year, Anthony and I had the pleasure of meeting a Zen monk whose work we admire tremendously.  (I’d rather not mention his name here because I don’t want to start drawing unrelated search hits.)  But he wrote about his experience going through a rough year that included the death of his mother (from a long-term illness), the dissolution of his marriage, and the loss of his job, among other things.  I thought he might be able to help me put things in perspective, and I wanted to share his reply with you here in the hopes that it might help some of you, too:

This is tough. The stuff with my mom went on for years, as you probably already know. My dad was a trooper through it all. But it really wore him out.

The phrase “it’s in God’s hands” is kind of true. That’s the way it is for all of us. Without trying to depress you even more (cuz I don’t think this idea is really depressing, but some do) all of our lives are “in God’s hands.” The statistics are against it, but you or anyone else you know could still be gone before your mom.

Which means you don’t have to do anything but enjoy each day as it happens. While your mom is alive, be alive with her. Do what needs doing for now.

It’s impossible not to worry. I know all about worry. I am a champion at it! But you can even find a place where you can allow worry to be as it is without worrying about it. If that makes sense. Worry comes, it sits in your brain for a while annoying you, and it goes. There is nothing specific you *must* do.

Respond to your mom’s changing condition as it changes. But don’t anticipate. As much as you can, try not to see things she does as symptoms or signs of deterioration. Just deal with what happens as best you can. Treat her pretty much the way you always have. She’ll appreciate it. I hate it when people around those who are terminally ill constantly send reminders to the person of their condition. They don’t need to be reminded! They know. Sorry. But I saw that happen with my mom and grandma and it was really awful.

I hope this helps a little.

You know, that sounds so easy, but I have a feeling it’s going to be more difficult than I can even imagine.

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