Showing posts with label Mom-Cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mom-Cancer. Show all posts

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Please, Do Your Family a Favor...

My Mother passed away last week (Tuesday, February 15th) and due to her foresight and thoughtfulness, the days following her death were somewhat less stressful than they might have been.

You see, back in January of 1999 Mom planned her own funeral, decided where she was going to be buried, selected the grave marker – and paid for it all!

She purchased the cemetery plot and grave marker outright and got an “insurance policy” to pay for the funeral services. Premiums were paid for three years and guaranteed the cost. She also discussed those arrangements with me, so I knew what she wanted.

She had selected only one song for the service so we chose several more that we knew she liked. The only things that were left to decide and pay for were the flowers for the casket, the funeral cards, thank you notes, and the obituary notices.

The other thing that Mom did that made our decision for us when the time came, was that she discussed her wishes in regards to “heroic measures” or life support in the event that she became terminally ill. It was a heart-wrenching decision that was by no means easy, but essentially one that she had made and we were bound to honor that decision.

Last November, Apple wrote about the process she went through in pre-planning her Mother's funeral as well as selecting a burial site and grave marker. Tough decisions were made and it was stressful, but imagine having to make those decisions in a very short period of time and under even more stressful conditions.

It is definitely not an easy task, but one which your family will forever be grateful. So, if you can, get your funeral planned. At the very least, discuss your wishes with your family. And, if at all possible get it paid for. Now.

Thank you, Mom, for this gift that you gave us.

Mom was cremated and the cremains were buried in the plot shared with her sister at Lakeview Cemetery, Larwill, Indiana. Mom selected a bench marker so that we might have a place to sit when visiting her.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Update on Mom :: May she Rest in Peace

Virginia Rose Phend Wiseman
May 9, 1928 - February 15, 2011
Rest in Peace, Mom. I Love You!

It was 11 days ago that Mom was admitted to the hospital as a result of radiation and chemo treatment for rectal cancer. She passed away at 8:45 this morning at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The cancer was not the direct cause of her death - an infection of the colon that antibiotics failed to control along with pneumonia and anemia were the major contributors.

With her consent, she was placed in Hospice care on Wednesday afternoon but due to the strength and wellness of her vital organs (her heart, liver, lungs and kidneys were in excellent condition) death did not come easily for her. She was not in a great deal of pain due to the medication she was given. She wanted just enough medication to ease the pain but not enough to dull her mind so the doctors complied with her wishes. She knew every friend and family member who came to visit and communicated with them even though she sometimes was too weak to talk. There were moments of anguish that were extremely difficult to watch as she said goodbye to each one of them. Though fewer, there were also moments of of joy and laughter.

Mom knew exactly what was happening all of the time up until about 8 pm last night when she suddenly became completely unresponsive. It was a relief for us when she finally passed to the other side knowing that she was in a better place and no longer suffering. She will be missed but her memory will live forever in our hearts.

Her death following so soon after the death of her sister Phyllis (just nine weeks ago) makes this an even more trying time for us and extended family members. It is so hard to believe that they are both gone...

Link to her Obituary (added February 16, 2011)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Update on Mom

It has been nearly a month since I last wrote about my Mother and her battle with rectal cancer. And I have been chastised by several people for not doing so but I didn't want it to seem like I was soliciting sympathy. So I humbly apologize to the family and friends who were expecting more frequent updates to be posted here.

Mom has been a real trooper through it all, handling it quite well physically and emotionally. The only thing she hasn't cooperated with is eating and drinking fluids. We had been warned that during the third week of treatment (she is getting both radiation and chemotherapy) that the side-effects would start showing up – and they did, with a vengeance.

Imagine if you will, having an extreme case of diarrhea lasting for a week or more. You can imagine how that would feel if you've experienced even one day of that crap (pun intended). On top of that (or rather beneath it) you've gotten a very severe sunburn where the skin has peeled off several layers and exposed raw flesh. The combination of the two is indescribable.

Then her blood count dropped. She had been holding at a level that was low but it hadn't dropped significantly until a few days ago. Low blood counts cause weakness. On Wednesday, she was at the point where she could help us very little with getting her in and out of bed and she couldn't stand on her own. The treatment center was closed Wednesday due to the nasty weather so she missed that session.

Thursday morning she fell trying to get out of bed on her own. She has two black eyes and probably has a broken nose. She looks awful. Even worse now than yesterday morning. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny.

We weren't due for blood tests or to see the doctor until Friday but I called and we went in Thursday afternoon. Her blood count had dropped significantly since the previous Friday so she was scheduled for a transfusion Friday after her radiation treatment.

I had a terrible time getting her up and dressed yesterday (Friday). She was no help whatsoever, it was like all of her strength had simply melted away. She was literally dead weight. Somehow we managed and I got her to the treatment center. Once the doctor saw her it was decided to admit her to the hospital.

When my niece and I left the hospital last night at 11:30 pm they still had not started the blood transfusion. It was expected to be started within a few hours. They did get a saline solution started to get fluids into her. She is extremely weak from the diarrhea and low blood count. Getting some new blood into her as well as fluids should make a big difference.

She hasn't lost her sense of humor: When the nurse asked her what they could do to make her feel better she simply said, “let me get some sleep!” It seemed like as soon she would drift off to sleep someone came in to prod or poke her to get blood or something... that's the nature of hospitals though.

And now, I'm off to spend the day at the hospital.

Prayers gratefully accepted.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Update on Mom...

This past week has been filled with almost-daily trips to Fort Wayne (and, no, not to the Library). Meetings with several doctors, getting tests done, and setting up a treatment schedule for Mom. My head is spinning, too much information to absorb....

The first doctor we met with was the radiologist on Monday (Dr. Rad). He was very nice and explained things quite well. Best of all, he talked TO Mom and listened to what she had to say. We've had several doctors in the past that act like she's not even in the room when discussing various things. Anyway, we all like him - all being Mom, my niece, my brother, and myself.

Dr. Rad did not "agree" with Previous Doctor's suggestion for treatment. Previous Doctor was the one who found the tumor and diagnosed it as cancer. His suggestion was to treat the tumor with radiation only and "make her comfortable" suggesting that the cancer was not curable. Dr. Rad, on the other hand, doesn't believe in half-hearted treatment. Instead, he "goes for the cure" which includes radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery...

After an extended discussion with Dr. Rad, which Mom seemed to fully understand (she sometimes has memory/comprehension issues – but then, so do I), the choices were to go with "radiation only" at another facility and with Another Doctor since Dr. Rad "doesn't do that" or to go with Dr. Rad for the cure. We were all quite surprised when Mom said that she wanted to go for the cure! Quite a change from 3 1/2 years ago when she wouldn't do either radiation or chemo for the breast cancer!

Mom is taking it all in stride and, at least on the surface, seems to be handling everything quite well. She seems to have an optimistic outlook (somewhat surprising to us given her negative-thinking tendencies) and is trying to follow the recommendations of the doctors as far as eating more/better (she has lost about 20 pounds in the last six months) and drinking more fluids (the treatment could cause dehydration). We even got her started on Carnation Instant Breakfast, which is what was recommended as a supplement, and she actually likes it!

On Wednesday we had a meeting with the chemotherapy doctor, Dr. Chemo. She too was very thorough in her explanations of the two types of chemo treatment available – an oral pill and IV/infusion pump. Dr. Chemo patiently answered all of our questions. She also talked directly to Mom and we all liked her as well. I think it is extremely important to like your doctors and those who are treating you!

Yesterday they did a P.E.T. Scan to see if there were any other "hot" spots. Today we returned to see Dr. Rad for the results and to set up the treatment schedule. The P.E.T. Scan did not show any other abnormalities though apparently some lymph nodes have been affected. However, they are in the pelvic region and will be able to be treated along with the tumor. If there is such a thing as “good news” associated with the cancer, I guess it is that it hasn't spread outside the rectum, other than some of those lymph nodes.

Insurance won't cover the oral chemo-medication, which would have been easier to administer, so the chemo will be via an IV/Port infusion pump. As you can probably guess, both have pros and cons with various and different so-called "minor" side affects. We've been told that she won't lose her hair but that there may be some nausea.

Anyway, treatment starts Monday afternoon (January 10th). Chemo will be given in conjunction with the radiation and will be five days a week for 5 1/2 weeks (a total of 28 treatments). A technician will come to the apartment on Saturdays to disconnect the chemo pump then on Mondays we see the Chemo Doc to resume the chemo treatment for the next five days. Radiation will be done daily at the treatment center in Fort Wayne. After the first session, it will only take 15-20 minutes for each treatment - it takes us longer than that to get there!

After the chemo/radiation treatment they will wait 5-6 weeks then there will surgery to remove the affected area of the colon and rectum. Depending upon how well the treatment worked and the damage done by the radiation she may or may not end up with a colostomy bag.

About six weeks after surgery more tests will be done to determine if additional chemotherapy is required. If so, that could last for up to six additional months.

We're just going to take it a day at a time and hope that she does not have any serious side-effects from the radiation and chemo.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Good News... Bad News...

I've been putting off writing this post for the past few days... writing it down is somehow different than just talking about it... writing about it makes it more real.

Bad News...The results from the biopsy a week ago Wednesday (12/22) shows that Mom has rectal cancer. According to the doctor, the tumor is a “large” one so she's had it for a while. The symptoms she had were diagnosed as something somewhat minor (hemorrhoids) so it was a bit of a shock when the doctor told us last week that he was sure it was a cancerous tumor. The biopsy has confirmed that diagnosis.

Good News... Mom had a CT Scan this past Monday (12/27) and the results came in on Tuesday along with the news of the biopsy. The cancer appears to be “localized” to the tumor. It has not spread to her liver. In fact, the doctor was “surprised” to see that her liver was in such good condition. She's had other tests in the past year that, considering the fact that she is 82 years old, show her heart and kidneys are also in good shape.

The cancer is by no means an immediate death sentence. Mom is borderline diabetic, has memory issues (diagnosed as dementia), and is very weak (uses a walker). She has had frequent episodes of falling in the past year but, thankfully, has not had any serious injuries from the falls and it has been over a month since the last fall. Various tests have found no cause but I suspect a sudden drop in blood pressure to be the culprit.

The Treatment... She goes in on Monday (01/03) for a consultation with a radiologist in Fort Wayne. The doctor said she would have radiation treatment five days a week for six weeks. Radiation is not a cure. His goal is to shrink the tumor to relieve the pain and bleeding and make her more comfortable. At this point we don't know what “stage” the cancer is in. We might know more about that after Monday. There is a possibility of surgery after the radiation but the doctor doesn't want to do it unless it is absolutely necessary. It would mean removal of part of the colon and the rectum and she would then have to have a colostomy bag.

My plans? To stick around as long as I'm needed or wanted. Family dynamics being a slippery slope, I don't want to step on any toes or make things any more difficult than they already are. As for my plans, the bad news is that I'll miss attending the RootsTech Conference in Salt Lake City in February but the good news is I now have some time to review my genealogy database and perhaps even do some local research!

In the past few days my blogs have gotten a little bit of a facelift. Long overdue but rather minor changes. I've pretty much ignored Whitley County Kinexxions over the past two years and that isn't going to change any time soon, but it is still out there and occasionally gets some visitors. The data files on my soon-to-be-defunct website have been transferred to the Genealogical Society of Whitley County website. After nearly eight years, my website has outlived it's usefulness and will drop out of cyberspace the first week of March 2011.

My thanks and appreciation go out to each and every one of you who have commented and provided moral support with your thoughts and prayers these last two weeks. Thank You.

I'm going to steal a wonderful quote for the New Year from Bill West who got it from Cheryle Hoover Davis:

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." - Neil Gaiman

May you – my readers – have a safe, healthy and happy New Year and may 2011 be a Great Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's Not Over...

I was so looking forward to spending the rest of the year on the beaches of Padre Island in South Texas, soaking up the nice, warm sunshine! And traveling further west again to explore places that I missed the last time through... but sometimes, life throws you a curve ball, and "plans" change.

The Journey has made a U-turn and is on Indefinite Hold. After several very nice days in the Texarkana, Texas area (one day was in the mid-70s!!), I'm back in Indiana.

I'm fine – it's my Mother – she has some medical problems that are far more serious than we were originally told. She goes to the doctor on Wednesday for a scope to determine the size of a tumor in her colon and to take samples to send off to see if it is cancer. We probably won't know anything definite until after Christmas. Once we know what it is we will know what course of action needs to be taken. And we'll do what needs to be done. And hope and pray for a positive outcome.

In the meantime, I'll have the wonderful memories of the many fantastic places I've been these past 15 months and the dreams of the places yet to be seen... It's Not Over!

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida
November 18, 2010