Where we are at | Fort Worth Documentary Photographer
I spent Saturday sitting sitting in my grandmother’s living room listening to it thunderstorm outside. While her space has been her home for the past 14 years, it is the third home of hers that I remember. In fact, growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. I even lived with them for a period of time when I was a toddler.
My grandfather has been gone for 24 years now and in those years, my grandmother has continued to be a constant support and companion for me. She and I have traveled the world together. We have shared countless stories, giggles and glasses of wine. She has taught me more than any other person on this planet.
Out of all of my fondest memories from my life so far, Mimi has been apart of almost all of them. She encouraged me in everything, helped me choose and helped finance my college education. She passed on her wanderlust heart to me teaching me about the beauty of travel- no matter how big or small the trip. She helped me plan my wedding, decorate my first home and all three of my nursery’s. I have spent every Christmas of my life, except one, with Mimi. She is my person.
4.5 years ago, Mimi was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I remember that phone call and how terrified I was. I remember having the overwhelming feeling that, “this was it”. And thinking that I hadn’t had enough time with her. All while knowing that I had been blessed by the life and relationship I did have with her and trying not to look past the importance of that. Nor the importance of the completely amazing life that she has lived.
She made it 4 years without much of a blip. Several rounds of radiation have eased pain and slowed tumor growth. The years of medication and treatments and hospital visits and appointments have made her weary. Despite those things, she was still doing quite well to the outsider. She still drives. She still plays bridge. She still travels a tad and lives independently. These are all remarkable for an 86 year-old woman who has been battling stage 4 cancer for so long.
Then 2017 came along. Her scans at the beginning of the year showed new growths and new problems. Things seemed to be progressing. Two rounds of radiation earlier this year left her more tired than ever. A followup visit post radiation showed a new cancer that is incurable. Her doctors have finally given her the designation of “terminal”.
Those words have hit hard. We don’t have a timeline yet but we know this is it. Mimi is trying chemotherapy currently. She has been adamant from the beginning that she will only undergo chemotherapy treatment as long as she does not become sick. She hates vomiting. She flat out told her doctor that the first time she vomits from treatment she would be done with it. She doesn’t want to live out the remainder of her life that way. It was too painful of a memory to watch my grandfather go in that way and she refuses to let us see her end of life look the same.
So far, she is 6 weeks into treatment and doing pretty well. The anti nausea medication that they are giving her at treatment seems to be working. She has lost her hair, which doesn’t bother her. She still has an appetite, which is wonderful. The worst part right now is how tired she is. If you know Mimi, you know that she does not like to slow down. She still has her wits about her but has had a hard time allowing herself to rest.
Right now we are in unknown territory. Her doctors are not ready to give her a timeline yet. But they also know that chemotherapy at her age may not be a long term plan. She and I are making big decisions about hospice care, funeral arrangements, decisions on who takes what art pieces, and family heirlooms and such. Overall, she is in good spirits. When she told me that her diagnosis had been changed to terminal, she said that in a weird way she was relieved. It has been a long few years with a lot of back-and-forth and what-ifs. This is a concrete answer. This is definitive and real. I understand her relief.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I putting this out there for the world to read? I don’t know really. I wanted a place to write down my thoughts. And, this is “my” space. I wanted a place to put it out into the world that she could use your prayers and good thoughts. I wanted to let it be known that this throws another added “challenge” into my schedule. I will be traveling to Houston as much as I can, indefinitely. Currently that looks like once a month-ish. As things progress it may be more than that. I am 100% confident that my clients will be supportive and understanding about that.
So, there it is. Where I am and what I am doing currently. This is where my heart and mind are currently. I may, or may not, write more about this later. I may, or may not, document Mimi in pictures through this process. I don’t know yet. What I am certain of is that my family would appreciate the prayers and support that you can offer us.