In the last week or so my Mom has taken a turn for the worse. In the past 2 days I come and I go with not much more than passing glance to welcome me and to say good bye. I don't know is she even knows it's me, but I still spend as much time with her as I can.
This is nearing the end of what started in 2014. Mom had been loosing weight no matter how much she ate. In February she went on a cruise with her Brother and Sisters to Belize and a few other Gulf countries. When she returned, despite all the all you can eat buffets she had lost 10 lbs. 2 weeks after returning her Brother passed away from a collapsed heart stent.
Fast forward to September and over 80 lbs of weight loss later, I accompanied her to her doctor's appointment. While there I put the Dr on blast asking what was going on and even asked if it could be cancer. The Dr refused to listen and just said she was anemic, and increased her iron pills. They had already sent her for a endoscopy and colonoscopy over the previous months with no signs of anything abnormal.
October 31st 2014 she was so weak that I nearly had to carry her into the Dr's office. At this point I was livid. When her Dr pulled the same old, "Mrs Shaw, you are so anemic." and wanted to send her for the same colonoscopy that was done just a few months earlier. I popped. I took her straight to the emergency room where I asked if they could do more than send her for another colonoscopy.
After 1 CT without contrast they discovered she had a 9x7x15cm cancerous tumor on her right kidney. It had already spread to 7 spots in her lungs ranging from 2mm to 12mm in size. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic disease. The Hospitalist (the hospital doctor on duty) said all they could do is to keep her comfortable till the end.
The next day a team of doctors took a second look and decided to remove the kidney and tumor and then follow up with Chemo to try to clean up the lungs. They gave her 2 units of blood to give her back some energy.
November 7th 2014, the day before my Birthday, they operated. The operation was a success. On December 5th they started giving her a chemo pill to attempt to slow the growth or reduce the size of the remaining cancer in her lungs.
Fast forward to August of 2016. After several different chemo pills, some working better than others, we learned that the cancer had spread to her ribs. They treated the affected areas with radiation and began a shot to promote the bones healing and to block the excess calcium build up in the blood.
Since that time she has had several visits to the hospital ranging from high calcium levels to a pulmonary embolism ( blood clot located at the branch where the artery splits to the 2 lungs). They have tried every chemo treatment there is for Kidney Cancer. Including the miracle treatment Obdivo.
The result of every CT would come back a little worse than before, but she was still doing good.
That was until about 2 months ago. She got way to week and I took her to the hospital as I had in the past. This time they believed the cancer had reached the tipping point and did not expect her to recover. The oncologist sent her to the Rehabilitation Center thinking that she would not come out. 2 weeks later she was released because she was back to normal.
3 weeks ago she was hospitalized what appeared to be a UTI. She recovered and returned home. 2 weeks ago I rushed her in again at 4am because she was hemorrhaging. They determined it was from the blood thinner that she was taking for the pulmonary embolism from last year. But while she was in the hospital, instead of getting better, she started getting weaker. They gave her a blood transfusion and she still remained weaker.
They sent her to the Rehabilitation Center hoping she would recover. 3 days later the Rehabilitation Center sent her back to the hospital because of her condition getting worse. This time all my Family were brought in and told that they are absolutely sure that her cancer has progressed to the point of no return.
They returned her to the Rehabilitation Center under what is called Comfort Care. It is essentially Hospice. They are authorized to use any pain medication required to make her comfortable and keep a extra eye on her to keep her as comfortable as possible until the end.
Between my 3 aunts, Brother and myself, we are with her for as many hours as the center will allow. Sometimes more. In the last 3 days her condition has deteriorated further to the point where if I'm not there, I check my phone as often as I can waiting for the call.
As sad and awful as this has been, I am still thankful. The last nearly 3 years have been a gift. In that time she has grown closer to her sisters, she has had the pleasure of watching her grandchildren grow, most of all I got to be with her a little longer. Of all her siblings she was the first to pass the age of 70 and if she lives till August 31st, the first to hit 72. A relief I'm sure to her 3 yonger sisters.
I don't know what faith any who read this may be. But I personally Thank God for the extra time he has given her. The time has not been squandered. While I still hope and pray there will be an 11th hour reprieve, I know one can only endure so much. So as for now, we wait...