Oh gosh, I'm so sorry! I'll be sending up good thoughts for your mom.
I have no personal experience in this, thank goodness -- but because my parents are elderly, I've gone through a lot of surgeries with them. Let me just mention some things I think are important:
1. Don't delay a moment. Have the surgery as soon as the doctor can book it, because with possible cancer, every day counts.
2. Don't let your mom work herself to a frazzle trying to make overtime before the surgery. She needs to be as strong and well-rested as she can be, to help prevent complications. She should also be sure to eat right between now and the surgery.
3. You said your mom is not allowed to take Advil for two weeks prior. I suspect that goes for aspirin, too, because it can thin the blood and cause excessive bleeding during and after surgery. You might want to clarify that with the doctor.
4. You said the surgery will be done through her stomach -- do you mean laparoscopic surgery, where they do the procedure through just a few tiny incisions around the abdomen? If so, your mom is likely to recover much more easily. I hope that's what it is.
5. Even people who are not religious often find comfort in spiritual counseling, a special blessing, or a little talisman of some kind when they're facing major surgery. You might think about whether your mom would appreciate something like that and arrange for it.
6. Two things that my mom really appreciates when she's in the hospital: First, a nice bedjacket to wear over those hopeless little hospital gowns. It keeps her warm and provides a touch of color and femininity. Second, a nice huggable stuffed animal. This is not only comforting, but practical -- she can use it to prop up a book if she wants to read, or to clutch if she needs to cough (which can be painful after surgery). Even my father, a retired Army officer, enjoyed having a stuffed critter with him in the hospital!
7. Because of the anesthetic and other medications she'll be given, your mom probably won't be fully alert for a day or two after her surgery. If I were you, I would stay right there with her until she is completely conscious and coherent.
I say this because I have seen a lot of mistakes in hospitals, and I believe it's critical for a groggy patient to have a loved one on hand 24 hours a day to make sure he/she is taken care of.
Not to frighten you, but just to explain why I feel this is so important: when my mother had part of her colon removed (benign tumor), the doctor ordered for her the standard dose of morphine in a drip, to control the pain after surgery. But the standard dose was too much for my mom, and she nearly died from it. They had to give her shots and get her up and walk her around the room to bring her back from the brink.
And this happened at 1:00 in the morning, on a floor with no telemetry to alert anyone that she was in trouble. If my father and I had not been there to see that she was barely breathing and needed help, she wouldn't be with us today.
So please, stay with your mom until she's fully able to fend for herself.
8. When you go to check in for the surgery, take along three tote bags:
(a) In one bag, carry a complete list (with dosages) of any medications, vitamins, and supplements your mom may take, plus copies
(not the originals, lest they get lost) of all your mom's paperwork, her ID, insurance cards, and any other papers or forms the hospital might want.
(b) In another bag, carry her bedjacket if she gets one, a robe, slippers, and a complete set of fresh clothes for when she goes home from the hospital.
(c) In the third bag, carry everything else she may want -- a good book to read, some lipstick and a small brush, her favorite handcream, that sort of thing.
9. If your mom has any special issues, like diabetes or drug allergies, you may want to make extra-
sure that those are not forgotten. After one hospital fed my diabetic father meals full of sugar for three days, I started posting a big sign on the wall above his bed every time he goes in: "This is JOHN DOE. He is DIABETIC and has an allergy to PENICILLIN. Thank you!"
Yes, they have wristbands for that sort of thing, and it's on the patient's chart... but mistakes happen anyway, so I take an extra step to be sure.
10. While your mom's in the hospital, try to be present whenever the doctor comes in to check on her (which is usually early in the mornings), so you can carefully write down whatever she says -- especially instructions for her care at home. It's good to have a record of your own as to what she said.
Okay, that's ten, and I'd better quit. I hope this is helpful, rather than just... bulky
One more thing: I dearly hope there won't be any malignancy -- but if there is, please have your mom call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345. The information and support they can provide are just astonishing.
My best friend works at their national call center, and he's been able to do a tremendous amount of good for thousands of people, from helping them get facts on which to base health decisions right on down to finding them support groups, transportation to appointments, free wigs to wear during chemotherapy... it's a wonderful resource.
But I surely hope your mom won't need it!
Please give her my good wishes, and let us know how things go, okay?