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MinkaGrl01

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I'm sure there plenty of us out there who have or will be affected by cancer and I thought a support thread to talk about it would be nice. Somewhere to share our stories or to be there for each other.

Sometimes I feel like I have no where to go or no one to turn to talk about these things because the people I would go to are the ones that are also dealing with it and a lot of times I'm supposed to be the strong one, the one who doesn't cry and carries everyone else through it, but that can also be so exhausting.

Today my mom starts round 3 of chemo. She was originally diagnosed by in June 2010 with Ovarian cancer stage 3c, she had her debulking surgery that July and started her first round of chemo. Her second go on chemo was this time last year and after the past few months on Avastin, the cancer is growing again and she's starting a different kind of chemo today. We've been told this chemo is a lot harsher than the other types she's had. She'll have to stop getting her nails done and she wont be able to put her hands in hot water for long or anything. In addition to the chemo and cancer, she also has lupus and a bunch of bone spurs on the vertebrae in her neck. I feel so bad for her, she's in a lot of pain and there's not much I can do other than try to pick up the slack and help out around the house so she doesn't have to worry about anything being a mess or not getting done.

I know that the cancer is incurable but I just want it to go away. She was just in the midst of bouncing back and putting on weight and now we have to do this all over again. It's ridiculous. I hate cancer.

10/8/2012 9:49:16 AM

gunzz
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good luck to your mom. we lost my grandmother to breast cancer but my aunt is currently in remission and participates in every cancer survivor event she can.

you know that cancer has touched so many lives and im sure this community has many.

10/8/2012 9:53:49 AM

CapnObvious
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Definitely rough for your mom. I hope all goes well.

My mother was recently diagnosed with colon cancer (a month ago). I think its a 5cm tumor on her lower intestines. Blood tests and biopsies appear to show that the cancer hasn't spread yet (specifically not the liver), so we're hoping that is a good sign. She goes in for her surgery on Thursday, but it will be all butterflies until then.

10/8/2012 11:32:18 AM

JLCayton
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my condolences

10/8/2012 1:31:48 PM

y0willy0
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I ran in the Susan G. Komen 5K this past weekend. I'm going to try and run in as many of these as I can in the future since my mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Although that caught it extremely early (which I'm thankful for).

There were over 17,000 people running in the non-competitive race... It was pretty amazing.

I really feel for you, your mother, and your family. I encourage you to participate in events like this; it will really make you feel better on a variety of levels.

[Edited on October 8, 2012 at 1:46 PM. Reason : -]

10/8/2012 1:45:22 PM

elkaybie
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Quote :
"you know that cancer has touched so many lives and im sure this community has many."


Indeed. A survivor story, but my father had esophageal cancer (1998) and prostate cancer (2008).
And my mom just had her third surgery to remove squamous cell skin cancer and is beginning her chemo cream applications. Crazy...chemo in a cream.

Esophageal was no joke with surgery, chemo and radiation. That was a very scary time.

10/8/2012 2:01:41 PM

BigHitSunday
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Sadly its not difficult to find people in similar situations I have realized it is way more prevalent than I ever could have imagined

10/8/2012 2:07:56 PM

JP
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Lost grandmother to cancer on my dad's side of family in 1986 not long after my little brother was born. I'm not sure exactly what type of cancer it was since I was 2 or 3 at the time. Then I lost my grandfather on dad's side to cancer in 2000. My dad passed from lung cancer almost 3 years ago at the relatively young age of 53. He smoked quite a bit and would never really quit, even while getting treatment.

10/8/2012 2:18:42 PM

y0willy0
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I had a family member die from colon cancer.

She was one of those folks that would never go to the doctor for any reason.

When she finally did and a variety of test results came back they tried to do a colonoscopy but couldn't even get the instrument in her it was so bad.

I think people should quit with the WebMD self-diagnosis. You have one group of people that thinks every ailment that befalls them is cancer, and the other group that thinks cancer is actually just a stomachache.

Go to the doctor people. If normal ailments don't resolve themselves in short order or ANYTHING seems suspect, just go to the doctor. Don't most people get yearly physicals? I'm actually guilty of not going for over 2 now.

It ain't worth it!

10/8/2012 7:30:06 PM

bmel
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My grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was in high school. It was stage 4 and he was only given 6 months to live. Four years later the cancer finally took him, but he put up a good fight. His dog would actually tell him when the cancer was back. The dog would start sniffing and digging at his stomach, kinda crazy. The dog was never wrong.

10/8/2012 8:29:09 PM

Axelay
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Cancer is rampant in my family. I am certain that I will one day have to face it as well.

- Mother's father - Esophageal (terminal)
- Mother's mother - Lung (terminal)

- Father's father - Intestinal (terminal)
- Father's mother - Liver (terminal)

- My mother - Hodgkin's disease of the lymph nodes (in remission)
- My father - ... thus far none discovered, which is unusual in that he's smoked since the time he was 16

In every one of these instances, each person was in considerably strong health when they were diagnosed, and they never had reason to believe that anything was wrong. Once the cancer had metastasized, it became extremely aggressive and most treatment options were no longer viable.

The real kicker is that when my mom was diagnosed back in the 80's with Hodgkin's, she had major radiation and chemotherapy in order to try to stave it off. The "scorched earth" treatment worked... but over the last two years, she's begun having very serious cardiac issues related to the treatment. She's already had open heart surgery twice to repair mitral and aortic valve damage. Her cardiologists have stated that because of the extent of the damage from the radiation, she's in a very serious condition for which there may be no improvement in quality of life. She was told when she was first diagnosed that this very situation (cardiac degeneration and circulatory complications) may one day happen. The sad part about it is that she and my dad kept this from my brother and me until this past year because they were so determined to do whatever it took to ensure that they both be around to raise us.

I, too, hate cancer. There aren't many days which go by in which I'm not hoping to read about some miraculous breakthrough in scientific research.

10/8/2012 9:42:33 PM

acraw
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My friend went to the ER for a painful stomache ache and the doctors decided to scan her pelvic area and thigh as well. They discovered a mass in her leg. The biopsies came back and she was formally diagnosed with a rare cancer of the fat tissues, called liposarcoma. The cancer did not spread. She went through radiation only, no chemo...but they did take a mass the size of a cucumber from her leg. This was late 2012. She is cancer free right now.

Chemotherapy and radiation all have nasty side effects. There is no cure for cancer, but I have high hopes that the cancer genome atlas projects that is going on at academic research institutions will pave the way for personalized medicine. Or what the NIH calls, precision medicine.

Read more about the cancer genome atlas here, and the impact of precision medicine.
http://cancergenome.nih.gov/cancergenomics/impact

Leukemia, prostate, lung, and a certain type of breast cancer all have published genome already. Now, the idea is to make sense of all these genes. Who are the key players, then we may develop a drug targeting a certain gene or genes. So we attack the tumors only, and leave healthy cells and tissues alone, and hopefully we can elimate the nasty side effects from chemo and radiation.

Typically, when you get treated, your doctor probably designed a "one size fits all" regimen to attack your cancer. This type of approach can have several outcomes. 1) make the patient more sick 2) treatment becomes ineffective and tumor continues to grow 2)unecessary radiation/chemo cycles

Now researchers know that, for example, all breast tumors or all ovarian tumors are not alike. The genetic makeup is different from one woman to the next. That's the goal of the cancer genome projects- to "personalize" cancer therapy for patient.

10/8/2012 11:18:27 PM

Samwise16
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My father was diagnosed around the age of 37 with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and was given a few days to live. He miraculously made it through after being the hospital for close to a year and having a the chaplain come read his last rights. He has been in remission ever since.

My grandma died of lung cancer this summer, as I'm sure quite a few of you saw. We found out two weeks before she died.

Minka, I think we all completely understand where you're coming from as far as wanting to take the pain away. That was by far the hardest part with my grandma... Just knowing that she was in hell and we couldn't make it stop was torture. Her last real words to me were, "Help me"

10/9/2012 12:42:52 AM

Colemania
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Hang in there...my grandfather died of cancer when I was in HS. He was diagnosed with lung cancer at 60 despite never smoking and was given 6 months to live. About 3-4 months in he died without any real indication so I never really got to see him except for a week before, one of my biggest regrets to this day.

Know that it's an awful battle but I cant encourage you enough to spend quality time together. It may seem awful, unfair, and you just want to turn back the clock...but...trust me, looking back, I regret not spending more time with him as his condition only got worse until he passed away. I kept thinking there would be better days but there werent, any really, just about any day he was here was better than after.

10/9/2012 1:27:29 AM

JP
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Quote :
"Know that it's an awful battle but I cant encourage you enough to spend quality time together."


This is key. There is not a day that passes that I wish I could have spent more time with my dad before he passed. He was diagnosed about a year before his death and he was really putting up a good fight (and at times seemed like he was 100% healthy) until about a month before he died. During that time, I had moved to Oklahoma to start my career and it killed me not to be closer to him and other family in NC. There were so many times I wanted to just quit my job and move back, but I just couldn't live without any financial support (meteorology jobs were/are hard to come by & parents had/have little income to support).

The sad thing is that his lung cancer could have easily been prevented if he didn't smoke. He had a mild heart attack in 2003 and he started eating healthy and really reduced his smoking habits, but it was short-lived. I can remember when my brother and I were young and tried to hide/throw away his cigarette packs. The thing that eats away at me the most is that I did everything I could to try and get him to quit. It also really sucks not having someone to come to for advice on life.

10/9/2012 9:44:11 AM

Skwinkle
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Quote :
"The thing that eats away at me the most is that I did everything I could to try and get him to quit."


This is something that I have struggled with a lot with my parents. They quit smoking when I was a kid, but their vice was/is food. They've been obese most if not all of my life, and it really hurts to watch them mindlessly eat unhealthy foods. It sucks knowing someone you love is killing themselves when you want so badly to be able to make them see how much they're hurting you by hurting themselves. But you can't, and it's not something you should feel bad for. But of course that's easier said than done.

My dad got kidney cancer a few years ago and had one removed and has recovered from that. But now he has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's). So you never know what's going to get you in the end.

10/9/2012 10:27:19 AM

MinkaGrl01

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thank you everyone for your good wishes.

Yesterday was a bit rough, she went to get the the first chemo dose but it was put on hold because of her neck issues. So, like I said she's in a lot of pain in her neck because she has 7 bone spurs and a degenerative disk. She's going to have surgery next Tuesday to fuse the bone and stop the pain and since she's having the surgery they want to hold off on the chemo. Which in part is good because the pain is really bad for her and I'd rather her fix the neck pain and then tackle the chemo but the cancer itself is extremely aggressive. It grows fast and the longer we let it grow, the longer she'll have to be on chemo. So that was yesterday. She's real nervous but I told her we have to do things in steps and worry about what's in front of us and it's the neck pain we have to worry about right now.

Quote :
"I encourage you to participate in events like this; it will really make you feel better on a variety of levels."


Thank you. I do and love all of my local Ovarian Cancer races and events! the Ovarian Cancer 5k in Philly was my goal race for couch to 5K and I just completed it last month for the second time in two years.

Quote :
"Go to the doctor people. If normal ailments don't resolve themselves in short order or ANYTHING seems suspect, just go to the doctor. Don't most people get yearly physicals? I'm actually guilty of not going for over 2 now."


This is so true, especially for women! Ovarian cancer is known as one of the silent cancers but it's not silent, it's not quiet. It's just symptoms we as women are used to having, but they shouldn't persists for weeks and then months without going to the doctor to get it checked out.

Ovarian Cancer symptoms:
Pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back, or legs
A swollen or bloated abdomen
Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
Feeling very tired all the time

We deal with bloatiness, nausea, fatigue all the time but we shouldn't be for months on end. My mom just got so used to all of these symptoms that she didn't go to the doctor until she had a cold AND THEN she mentioned all of her pains in her abdomen

Quote :
"There is not a day that passes that I wish I could have spent more time with my dad before he passed."


This. It's why I moved up here. When she was first diagnosed I was in NC and they lived in PA and from the first few phone calls and them trying to explain what the doctor said and what had to be done, I knew I had to move up here and take over. They had no idea what to do. My mom was suffering, my dad put his head in the sand and wouldn't deal/help/do anything, my sister was a basketcase and no one was asking the right questions, getting the information, and making a plan on what to do. Within a week of being up here I had to straighten everything out, get the house in order and get her calm before we had to admit her into the hospital due to complications from the cancer. And two years later I'm still keeping them all together. I'm so glad that I made the move, it was hard, I had to leave all I knew and all my financial security and I had to start all over again in life finding a new job and a new place to live, leaving behind friends, but it's been worth it because when we get through the hard stuff there are days when we're just being mom and daughter. Going to the movies, fighting over something silly at TJ Maxx, eating at Buffalo Wild Wings, it's much better being here for all of this then just traveling and coming up for all "crisis times"

10/9/2012 10:28:17 AM

y0willy0
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I went home almost every weekend when I was an undergrad to spend time with my grandfather.

He had Parkinson's, not cancer, but it is absolutely critical that you maximize your time with those who are seriously or chronically ill (especially if they're elderly).

In the end he actually passed from pneumonia (as a result of Parkinson's), but several of my family members now express a great deal of regret for not spending more time with him. I have no such regrets, which I'm thankful for, but also try to mainly cling to memories from BEFORE he deteriorated so much.

Not that he was any less of a person, but I think he would prefer to be remembered that way. I wish I could give some of the time I spent with him to my sister, who lives pretty far away, because when she saw him the last few times he had changed so much from what she remembered.

The effects of these diseases on other members of the family, not just the afflicted, are pretty much just as bad.

10/9/2012 12:50:53 PM

Bullet
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Some of these stories are making me sing "The Living Years" in my head:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGDA0Hecw1k&feature=related

My grandad got lung and prostrate cancer and died a few years ago (never smoked). It is tough to see them rapidly deteriorate. Even though I visited every month or two for the last year and a half, i wish i had visited more.

[Edited on October 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM. Reason : ]

10/9/2012 1:39:12 PM

MinkaGrl01

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It's been awhile since we've talked!

It's been a long road with my mom's treatments this time. It took forever to find the right combination of meds that would lower her CA-125 levels. Now her numbers are really low and after her pet scan they don't see any tumors in there. So for now they are stopping treatments until the levels start to rise again. She'll never be cured, so we just fight it as it gets worse and then bat it down again.

All the chemo has had a real affect on her platelets. They looked bad about two weeks ago and they keep going down. She had some shot that's supposed to help get them back. Through all the chemo this time she hasn't lost her hair, and it's been the running joke in my family that, atleast she still has her hair... but I'd rather her have platelets

Also, she and I were selected for a scholarship to attend the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's 16th Annual in Washington, DC in July. We'll be participating in Advocacy Day and meeting with some folks on Capitol Hill.

5/16/2013 9:44:00 AM

MinkaGrl01

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And the CA 125 levels are rising again. We're up to 484 this week and we're waiting for results from the pet scan.

I hate cancer. I really fucking hate it and I wish I had something to punch.

8/20/2013 2:21:45 PM

BigHitSunday
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Title is a little misleading

8/20/2013 2:28:04 PM

MinkaGrl01

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yeeeeeeeeeeeah...

8/20/2013 2:36:40 PM

darkone
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Punch your Mom.... in the cancer.

8/20/2013 2:58:19 PM

ncsuapex
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I do not support cancer.

8/20/2013 3:28:26 PM

djeternal
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Someone very close to me has stage 3 cancer. I wish I could discuss it in this thread but it's not my place to discuss her business publicly. I'm willing to discuss via PM.

8/20/2013 3:28:42 PM

MaximaDrvr

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Cancer runs in my family and I'm sure I'll get it eventually.
Colon cancer runs in my dad's side.

My mom has survived cervical cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer. She is now 53 years old.
The breast cancer and cervical cancer were both when I was a kid, one at age 3 and one at age 4.
The skin cancer was about 4 years ago.

She is still going strong, and I am fortunate that I can't remember much of what my mom went through.
I mostly remember getting ice cream at the hospital.

8/20/2013 6:58:32 PM

LivinProof78
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I tried to read this thread...but I can't...

my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in November 2011...mastectomy and months of chemo and radiation...finished up treatment around last August...

she was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer back in December...we spent the weeks before and after Christmas in the hospital...luckily one surgery took care of that...

however they found some lesions on her bones while doing scans for the colon...

she went through more chemo and radiation but now has stage 4 breast cancer...it's in her bones and liver...next stops lungs and brain

she's decided against anymore chemo unless some miracle treatment pops up...

the last 2 years have not been fun

i never intended to post this on tdub but there's a thread for it...so why not



[Edited on August 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM. Reason : sdfk]

8/23/2013 2:15:40 PM

disco_stu
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I don't know you and you don't know me, but I'm sorry that's the situation your mother and your family are in. It sucks out loud and there's no way around it.

8/23/2013 3:48:33 PM

LivinProof78
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indeed it does, my friend...indeed it does :/

8/28/2013 10:15:26 PM

colangus
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@MinkaGrl01

I know your story too well. My mom battled ovarian cancer for over 11 years. She wrote a really cool article about her experience for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (PM me and I'll send you a link).

How old is your mom? Keep your spirits up- my mom was stage 4 in 1999 and her diagnosis was grave. She beat it 4 times! (She used to joke that the pharma rep who sold her chemo drugs owed her big time )

But the last one in 2010 was too much and her body couldn't keep up. Still miss the shit out of her after almost 3 years.

8/28/2013 11:36:21 PM

colangus
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Sorry- I just noticed the original date.

CA-125 shit man, I haven't heard that phrase in a long time. I always remember my mom going to the doctor and getting her tests.

One thing I'll share with you is how my mom would do her chemo treatments. She wouldn't let just anyone take her to her monthly chemo treatment- it had to be a good friend.

They'd go to chemo in the morning, then they'd do a "little" shopping at Southpark Mall and Talbot's. Jeezus, she loved Talbots like no one else. Then she'd take her friend to lunch and they'd have a glass or two of wine.

But the days afterward were really hard. She said it was like having the flu and the worst hangover each month.

But she never missed work. She was a fricken HS principal for part of her treatments. Didn't miss a damn day of work. She'd leave early if she was feeling sick, but never missed a full day.

Her strong will skipped a generation. I'm the biggest puss and hypercondriac.

8/28/2013 11:47:59 PM

UJustWait84
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I dated a cancer once

Bit too crabby for my tastes

8/29/2013 12:27:12 AM

MinkaGrl01

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My mom just told me she's stopping treatment. The doctor says it's not working anyways.

I knew this moment would come but I didn't realized I'd be parked at target not wanting to ever move again.

I thought I could do this and be strong but I don't think I can.

4/14/2014 5:24:29 PM

Bullet
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So sorry

A friend of mine just lost her best friend since childhood after battling for 4.5 years (when she was diagnosed she was given a few months). She was 33.

4/14/2014 5:45:44 PM

aaronburro
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Sorry, Minka I, too, do not support cancer, because it sux. throw rocks at it

4/14/2014 7:22:48 PM

bmel
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My heart is breaking for you, minka. I'm so very sorry.

4/14/2014 8:49:02 PM

slappy1
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this hurts my heart to read. I am so, so sorry. I can't even imagine what you're going through. please know that someone in Cincy is praying for you and your family.

4/15/2014 1:37:52 AM

MinkaGrl01

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Thank you everyone.

I'm tired of watching her get worse. I keep thinking maybe we can do one more round of chemo but with them saying its not working and me not believing them it's hard. I have this thought that there's something we're missing, that maybe she's making the wrong decision. But I guess not.

I feel helpless.

I dont want her in pain anymore. But I also dont want her to die.

4/15/2014 3:12:58 PM

EMCE
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Sorry minka

4/15/2014 4:50:40 PM

Skwinkle
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How is your mom feeling about it?

I think a lot of times the person with the illness feels like they need to be the strong one so their family doesn't break down, but the family members feel the same way. But in a situation like this, it's OK to break. And it's OK to be angry, helpless, relieved, confused, scared, and anything else you're feeling right now all at the same time.

4/15/2014 4:57:56 PM

colangus
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@MinkaGrl01

Write down every thought and feeling you have. Save it.

You'll wanna read it when she's not here. Spend as much time with her as possible.

I about drove my mom crazy the last two weeks. But she loved ever single minute, and so did I.

4/15/2014 10:34:02 PM

jbrick83
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Booo. Watching someone you love die slowly is the worst...cancer, alzheimers, whatever. I hope you can find the strength to make it through. Spend as much time with her as possible, talk about anything and everything, and try to reflect on the good things in the past and the present as much as you can. Good luck.

4/16/2014 9:31:24 AM

BlackJesus
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4/16/2014 12:31:21 PM

MinkaGrl01

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We're now coming into the last few days and hours. The nurse came this afternoon and stopped all her unneeded medicine, like blood pressure and medicine for her lupus. All we need to do now is make her comfortable with anti-nausea meds and her morphine pump. She stopped eating and is sleeping with bouts of disorientation and restlessness. After I spoke with the nurse I had to be the one to tell my dad and then my siblings.

I wish I could go numb. I don't know if she knows I'm here or not.

My dad is handling this better than expected but still he's a strange one. I'm just going to sit here with her in case she wakes up and needs something. At least she's not in pain.

6/9/2014 6:42:22 PM

slappy1
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my heart is absolutely breaking for you. I don't even know what to say. I have a huge lump in my throat and I wish desperately I could take on just a little of your pain.

I'm just so, so sorry. I am praying for peace for you and comfort for your mother, and for all of you to just be surrounded by every ounce of love you've shared during your time on earth together.

6/9/2014 11:20:39 PM

bmel
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I'm so sorry, minka. Life is so unfair.

6/10/2014 12:01:30 AM

Nighthawk
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We just buried my wife's grandfather yesterday after a very short bout with cancer. He was an old WWII vet but got sick about three weeks ago. Took them a while to figure out WTH was going on, but his body was riddled with tumors. He digestive system basically shutdown and they were making plans to send him home with hospice care telling her family he had a couple weeks. It was unnecessary as he died at the hospital Saturday, only three days after the diagnosis. Just asked for help to sit up and puke, finished doing that and slumped forward dead. Shit sucks, but he was 90 and thankfully did not have to suffer long at all.

6/10/2014 9:30:02 AM

MinkaGrl01

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Thank you everyone. This has been the toughest thing I have ever been through. She wants to die at home so we have at home hospice. Its me by her side 24 hrs and a nurse who comes once a day and an aide who visits so I can take a break here and there.

Saturday night her and I watched a movie together and she sat up and wanted to brush my hair for a bit.

Now I'm just watching her body give out.

It's not right. She stopped eating Tuesday. On Wednesday someone put food to her face and she tried to swallow and got it down. It's upsetting when people come to visit and don't understand. They think I'm starving her when I would like nothing more than to sit her up and have her eating. The last thing she was able to swallow was a tiny piece of a strawberry I cut for her.
She can't swallow medicine so I now dissolve her ativan and haloperidol in water and inject the paste in the pocket of her check. These meds calm with the restless movements in her limbs.

She doesn't really see me anymore. The last time I saw her eyes open wide was around 730 this evening when I was changing her diaper and I accidentally hurt her. The look of pain was so horrible. I feel like crumbling up and crying. I hit the bolster on the morphine pump. I hope to God that she her last thoughts of me weren't that I hurt her.

It's quiet here if you forget about the sound of the oxygen pump and the flow of the constant air mattress. I've been sitting here holding her hand and hoping she's comfortable. I think she generally is.

This is worst time in my life. I never thought death was like this. I'm waiting for the death rattle. My heart hurts.

[Edited on June 12, 2014 at 9:56 PM. Reason : ]

6/12/2014 9:55:03 PM

LivinProof78
All American
49371 Posts
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I know this isn't going to make you feel better about what is happening right at this moment...

but i can tell you this...


unless there is something unusual going on with your mom, it's going to be very peaceful when she goes...

the hours leading up to it are going to be hell for you....but not for her...once she's "actively dying" the Hospice nurse will sedate her...she won't be in any pain...she'll just lay there taking loud, long, unsettling breaths...then she'll just smack her lips a few times and that'll be that...

she'll be able to hear you though...so talk to her...


my mom died about 6 weeks ago and the final minutes were the most powerful thing i have ever experienced in my entire life....there isn't enough bandwidth on tdub to explain it...but it was precious for everybody there...


also...Hospice is the single greatest organization ever created

[Edited on June 13, 2014 at 7:34 AM. Reason : dsafd]

6/13/2014 7:33:41 AM

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