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    We have some good news! The scope procedure my mom underwent yesterday came back with positive results. They were able to determine that scar tissue was blocking the bile duct and not another tumor. They put a stint in and, hopefully, within a few weeks, my mom's liver enzymes will go back towards normal and the jaundiced look will begin to fade. Now, it's on to Monday's appointment to ask about the pain she has in her lower stomach and try to find a course of treatment for that.

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    Oh No (Elevated liver enzymes): After treatment was done, she went back for lab tests and the tests came back with elevated liver enzymes. The first test they thought could have been from the recent radiation. The second test caused a bit of concern. Also the fact that she started looking jaundiced concerned the doctors. Today, in fact, she had to go in for a scope procedure to get a better look at her bile ducts. It could be scar tissue or it could be more tumors. I don't know yet and I'm worried about the phone call I'll have with her tomorrow. She's also been having bad stomach pains for the past few weeks and has to go in to see her primary doctor about that. We are just ready for her to start feeling better. To have one day where pain is not a constant companion and where she feels like her old self again.

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    Celebration (Finished treatment): She finished her treatment 2-3 weeks ago. About two weeks before her treatment ended, she and I set a date for my son and me to fly up for a visit. I bought the tickets on the day of her last treatment and e-mailed them as a small celebration. She was happy to be done with the long drives, daily visits, and to finally wear "real" clothes after weeks of having to wear the same pants to every radiation treatment.

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    Radiation (External radiation ): My mom had radiation five days a week for about six weeks. She said it wasn't too bad and was glad her anxiety wasn't so bad that she couldn't lie there for the treatments. There were days where she felt ok and days where she felt completely awful. Around the third week of radiation, I could actually call her and she would almost sound like her old self. She was always surprised at how sudden the fatigue would come on and how, on bad days, she could lie down around 3 PM and sleep until the next morning. My mom has always been one who could never sit still for more than ten minutes before getting up to clean something in the house. This really caused her to spend a lot of time resting and taught her to slow down and not worry about the things she couldn't get done. The radiation has been done for about 2-3 weeks now and the fatigue still comes around now and then. She thinks she'll always move slower than she used to and is beginning to enjoy it. She has become fond of puzzles and can spend a few hours a day putting a puzzle together.

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    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): We were relieved to hear that the chemotherapy my mother would undergo would be in the pill form. I think we all thought it would be a lot easier on her than "normal" chemo. Unfortunately, it was harder than she expected and, after being extremely sick for the first week, all agreed to halt the chemotherapy since the main treatment was radiation. During this time, I wanted to call every day, twice a day or more, but really tried not to call very much. My mom was too ill to talk on the phone and my step-dad was too busy taking care of her. He would e-mail or text me updates to let me know how she was doing, but we didn't have the kind of contact we really wanted. As much as I wanted to be there, to help in any way I could and just love on her, I had to stay down in Texas with my family and take care of everything. She asked me not to come up and promised if things got terrible, she'd let me know.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Partial liver removal): My mom's surgery was scheduled for Nov. 12. The same day as my birthday. (I am her only child and live too far away to have been there while she had to go under.) I know she was nervous, scared, ready to get this step out of the way. As her only child, I think she chose to try to keep a lot of her emotions secret because she knew how worried I was and how helpless I was feeling living in Texas, taking college courses, taking care of my family, while she was in Idaho (with my step-dad) and driving into Spokane, WA for the surgery. Really, I knew she had been ill and had lost weight, but it wasn't until I saw pictures of her after the surgery that I realized this had taken a big toll on my mother.
    The surgery went better than could be expected. They were able to safely remove half her liver, all of her gallbladder, and the surgeon was fairly confident that he had been able to get all of the tumor out of her bile duct. He couldn't see any more tumors and was glad that the tumor had not grown into a major blood vessel... as had been feared.
    Recovery was hard on my mom. She was discharged about a week and a half later, but back in the hospital the next day due to excessive pain and fluid build up. It took a long time for all the fluid to drain and for her to be declared eligible to finally go home. (She pretty much spent all of November in the hospital.) Mom's anxiety, stress, and pain were enough that she chose not to begin radiation and chemotherapy until after the Christmas holidays. Truthfully, though we were all scared for her to wait, we also knew that she needed that time to begin to heal from her hospital stay.. and a chance to "relax" before the big treatment began.