A picture says 1,000 words. Take a good look.
This is the story of my mom - before, during and after cancer treatment.
This is Part 3 in a series on Surviving Cancer Treatment.
You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here. Please scroll to the bottom for a free training program for someone "fresh off the couch".
Lower LeftTo summarize for you, the lower left picture is my mom. She is 74 years old, but looks 64 - she has always aged well, with great skin. This is how we (the kids) remember her.She has always been a "heavy set woman", who didn't care a lot about fitness. Her health has always been good, but recently (because of lack of daily activity) she has slightly elevated high blood pressure and cholesterol. But, aside from that, her only other health issue has been melanoma - skin cancer. Mostly on the nose, but three years ago, they found a spot on her scalp and had do "dig deep".
Above LeftThis picture was taken the day before my mom had a "spot" removed from her lung. Doesn't she look great? She looks 65! Anyway, we really didn't think anything about the surg. It turned out to be metastatic melanoma, which is given a "stage 4" classification, because it spread internally to an organ. After surgery, mom and I met with the cancer nurse and she began a year long treatment of interferon. She had 1 month of IV infusions, followed by 11 months of self injections, three times a week.
Top RightThis picture was taken in July and mom was 9 months into her treatment. While the picture doesn't show it, this is when she really started losing weight. She started the "journey" at 194 pounds, the day of the surgery, and while her weight loss was gradual, the buildup of interferon in her body, made her lose her appetite and gave her mouth and lip sores, so consuming food became difficult. She slept most of the day and was fatigued, even when she was awake. She barely had energy to walk to the mailbox. Other things we noticed, were her hair turning almost white (she had previously dyed it and had backed off of the coloring during treatment) and her skin was a shade of grey I'd never seen, and it "hung" on her face.
Lower RightThis picture was taken just one month after her treatment was completed. She has a clean bill of health and is cancer free. Doesn't she look great? Mom had dropped to an all time low of 165 pounds. The color was returning to her face. She was "pinking" up. She was able to stay awake for part of the day, participate in some short activities and was becoming more social. She was able to walk 10 minutes and do the stairs once or twice a day. Just one month after treatment, and she is already looking "younger" - like the 75 year old woman that she is.
UpdateI saw mom two weeks ago - just two months after the lower right photo was taken and the difference is remarkable (wish I had a photo). Mom joined me on my 365fitt Healthy Active Living Trip to Sanibel for a couple of days. I'm happy to report that she has gained some of her weight back and her skin has more color and is "filling out" again. Even more importantly, Mom and I walked a mile together and she participated in our group's yoga and pilates activities on the beach. She did great! Not only that, but we could tell that the "fog" (called chemo-brain) had lifted and she was mentally sharp once again. Biologically and physically she is 75 years old.
During this journey through treatment, I've seen a woman, who looked 65 years old, age almost 15 years. I've also seen her youth return as the drug leaves her body. Will she ever regain the youth and vitality of the woman before cancer? Only time will tell. I'm coaching her with proper nutrition and physical activity and her motivation (lacking during treatment) to be healthy has returned. Her goal is to walk 500 miles this year and she is using a pedometer to track her progress. The mere fact that she has a goal - and a biggie one at that - is testament to her strength. Way to go Mom! I love you!
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