We didn’t have much time to think about the intensity of the situation once her cancer was diagnosed as explained in When in Cancer Hospital – Week 1. The doctors wanted to get the operation done the next day. She was already admitted in the hospital since past 5-6 days so all other routine check up before the surgery had already been done.
The most difficult part of the whole process was that my mom didn’t actually know what was going on with her. We were too scared to tell her what had actually happened to her. It was partly because we were hoping that her biopsy would somehow be negative and the operation wouldn’t have to be a major one. But her cancer had been confirmed now and there was only 10 or 12 hours left before my mom went in the surgery room. I cannot even explain in words the kind of emotions I was feeling.
Mom would instead tell us not to worry much and she’d be fine after the surgery. She could see the expression on our faces and even at that point, she was worrying more about us and asking us to calm down and she’d be fine. Bua couldn’t stay in the same room as mom that day. He was too emotional and I remember we would take turns to go out of mom’s room and cry in turns. We didn’t want to be weak in front of her. Everything was so uncertain at that time but we trusted in two things:
1. My mom’s strength and
2. Our Doctors
TIP: From our experience, what I feel is inner strength is a great healer. Even if the disease is incurable, being strong will always help you face the situation in a positive note.
FACT: Hope can do wonders, you can endure any pain when there is hope of life.
Looking back and thinking of the situation now, I remember both Bua and me being adamant about getting mom treated. We wanted to give her the best treatment available. And mom never showed any sign of fear(she must’ve been very scared at that time). My mom is a believer. She never stopped believing in her “God” and the power of meditation(she had been meditating since last 6-7 years). So, every night I would read her “Chandi Patth” (versus of prayers of Goddess Durga, it signifies strength and bravery) and “Hanuman Chalisa” (versus of prayers of God Hanuman, it signifies being fearless) while we were at the hospital. I remember she kept on repeating to herself and us that she’d be fine, she really did believe the situation would get better and it was only temporary.
TIP: Pray during times of difficulty and help your closed one connect to God.
FACT: It is only natural for people to turn to the divine power when there seems to be no explanation about the things that are happening. At this point, a source of belief and faith can do wonders. It can help you understand and accept your situation instead of fretting as being positive is always better than giving in to the illness.
On the day of the surgery, mom changed into surgical gown early in the morning. The doctor who was doing the surgery visited us and told us about the kind of surgery she was getting. The doctors had planned for “Sub-total gastrectomy”. To read more, you can start by visiting wikipedia.
The surgery took much longer than expected, mom was taken in for surgery at 8 am and she was in the post surgery ward at 4pm!! After the surgery, we talked to the surgeon and he informed us that they had to perform “Total-Gastrectomy”(total removal of stomach) since the size of the tumor was big that they didn’t want to take any chances. He also informed us that the surgery was successful and he would refer us to a medical oncologist for further treatment guidelines.
TIP: Ask about the procedure in detail so that you will be well informed about the condition of your loved ones.
FACT: Surgery can result in change in lifestyle and diet of the patient, be well informed so that you can communicate with your loved ones with compassion and help them understand and accept the changes.
In the evening when we were allowed to visit mom in post operative ward, she was not aware that such kind of surgery would mean complete rest for weeks and a drastic change in diet. She was not so happy with us for not informing her about what would happen after the surgery. But the fact is, even we didn’t know what exactly would happen after the surgery.
So, let me list down the facts about what to expect after going through a “Total Gastrectomy”
- You will need to spend around 6 days in post operative ward.
- You will not be able to eat normally until a test is done to confirm that there are no leaks in your gastric track after the surgery.
- You will get nutrition through Intravenous Feeding for the first week.
- You will need be in complete rest for 5-6 days, usually taking pain killers to reduce the pain caused due the incision made during surgery.
- A feeding tube, which will deliver food directly to stomach will be required for the first few weeks until the patient is able to eat normally by swallowing. In mom’s case, she was feed through the tube for around 15 days.
- Patient may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- The food portion will significantly decrease after this type of surgery. 5 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day would be recommended.
At the end of our second week in cancer hospital, my mom’s cancer was confirmed and her surgery was successfully performed.