Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

St. Agatha

St Agatha healing GLanfranco

Saint Agatha is one of the early church martyrs. The governor of Sicily wanted to have her although it is unclear to me from all of the different accounts whether he thought he was in love with her or if he just lusted after her. Be that as it may, it seems that if he were living today he'd be considered an abusive man. Because Agatha preferred to be a virgin for Christ, he sent her to a brothel where she suffered humiliation. Reading between the lines there she was probably raped and abused, but she did not give in. The account of her persecution continues:

After being tortured, "Agatha went to prison radiant with joy and with head held high as though invited to a festive banquet. And she commended her agony to the Lord in prayer." The next day, as she again stood before the judge, she declared: "If you do not cause my body to be torn to pieces by the hangmen, my soul cannot enter the Lord's paradise with the martyrs. She was then stretched on the rack, burned with red-hot irons, and despoiled of her breasts. During these tortures she prayed: "For love of chastity I am made to hang from a rack. Help me, O Lord my God, as they knife my breasts. Agatha rebuked the governor for his barbarity: "Godless, cruel, infamous tyrant, are you not ashamed to despoil a woman of that by which your own mother nursed you?"

This is why she is the patroness of breast cancer patients. I was with SLO when she came out of surgery following her double mastectomy. Despite the miracles of modern anesthesia and pain killers, she was in a lot of pain. Seeing that gives me all the more respect for what Agatha endured.

The painting above illustrates the rest of the story.
In the night there appeared to her a venerable old man, the apostle Peter, with healing remedies. Agatha, ever delicately modest, hesitated to show him her wounds. "I am the apostle of Christ; distrust me not, my daughter." To which she replied: "I have never used earthly medicines on my body. I cling to the Lord Jesus Christ, who renews all things by His word." She was miraculously healed by St. Peter: "Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I give you praise because by Your apostle You have restored my breasts." Throughout the night a light illumined the dungeon. When the guards fled in terror, her fellow prisoners urged her to escape but she refused: "Having received help from the Lord, I will persevere in confessing Him who healed me and comforted me."

Shortly thereafter she was martyred.
From Catholic Culture

St. Agatha is also the patroness of fire prevention.

Agatha is one of the saints mentioned in the first Eucharistic prayer.

Remember, Lord, those who have died and have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, especially those for whom we now pray, {names deceased loved ones whom the celebrant or parishioner wishes to offer before God}. May these, and all who sleep in Christ, find in your presence light, happiness, and peace. [Through Christ our Lord. Amen.]

For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, [Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia] and all the saints. Though we are sinners, we trust in your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord.

St. Agatha, woman of valor, from your own suffering we have been moved to ask your prayers for those of us who suffer from breast cancer. We place the name (s) before you, and ask you to intercede on their behalf. From where you stand in the health of life eternal- all wounds healed, and all tears wiped away- pray for ____________________, and all of us. Pray God will give us His holy benediction of health and healing. And, we remember you were a victim of torture and that you learned, first hand, of human cruelty and inhumanity. We ask you to pray for our entire world. Ask God to enlighten us with a “genius for peace and understanding.” Ask Him to send us His Spirit of Serenity, and ask Him to help us share that peace with all we meet. From what you learned from your own path of pain, ask God to give us the Grace we need to remain holy in difficulties, not allowing our anger or our bitterness to overtake us. Pray that we will be more peaceful and more charitable. And from your holy pace in our mystical body, the Church, pray that we, in our place and time will, together, create a world of justice and peace. Amen.

St. Agatha links on

Sunday, January 01, 2012

My Daily Domestic Clips 01/02/2012 (a.m.)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Daily Domestic Clips 12/29/2011 (a.m.)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Simple Woman

Outside my window...
december 2010 036

I am thinking...
About a member of our choir who has been there for decades.  I'll refer to her as MA on the blog.  MA is a behind-the-scenes kind of person but she manages the library of music, gets people's stands out and pretty much makes sure the gentlemen in the guitar section have all of the right music that they will need.  She cantored the second week of Advent, but wasn't feeling very well and had a hard time walking.  Mr. Pete and another gentleman helped her get to her car after mass.  Later that week she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and now she is in hospice - all in under a month.  It is frightening and sad all at once.
I am thankful ...
Good Health

From the learning rooms...

Back to the routine. Izzy and I are plowing ahead in her Pathway Reader and Saxon Math. Sam and Gabe are into Lord of the Flies. Hitting Math, and Science pretty hard this week too.

From the kitchen...
Chilli, Spaghetti for Tuesday, White Chilli for Wednesday, Leftovers Thursday, and Tuna Heros for Friday.

I am wearing...
Black pants, pretty old sparkley sweater that I have but don't wear out much.  It's too old and worn to wear out in public, but I like to wear it around the house anyway. !

I am remembering:
Mama - always.  And also apparently my great, great grandmother Emmeline who must need my prayers because she is on my mind a lot.

I am creating...
Videos from Christmas Eve and the kid's gig over Christmas - still on my camcorder
I am going...
get in at least once with this Jillian Michael's Shred

But my absolute new favorite is
The FIRM Express Cardio

The choreography for that one is super challenging and I love exercise moves that I have to think about.
I am reading...

I am hoping...
to get to some history and science this week in homeschool, now that everyone is back to the basics of reading and math!  Also hoping to find some ways to help Calvin explain his Catholic Faith.  His girlfriend (whom we love!) is asking a lot of questions about the church and Calvin is trying his best to give good answers.  I'm going to look in the books my mom left to see what's there.

I am hearing...
Sam playing the guitar waiting for his gig tonight.

Around the house...
All of the Christmas decorations are down for another year. We do leave some lighted garland up until Lent though. Can't get rid of all the glitz at once!

A picture I am sharing:  
january 2011 007
Some little chia pets the kids got for participating in the kid's choir!

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Friday, July 02, 2010

7-Quick Takes

 Join Jen and the other Quicktakers over at the Conversion Diary.

1. Yawn, stretch, wave! I took an unintended but much needed blogging break! It started last week as I was getting ready for the state homeschooling convention but after that every time I walked by the computer I just didn't feel like blogging. So rather than bore you all with a half-hearted attempt, I rested. And it was good.

2. My aunt (she's really my husband's aunt but I spent so much time talking with her I feel like she's mine too!) died last week from stage IV ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed a year before my mom and lasted a year past mom. She was a fighter, but she was also a very gentle and good spirited lady. We spent time together last year at the family reunion. She knew the disease had killed my mother and we spent some time talking about that and her treatments. I thought she was very brave. I know Uncle Lawrence and all of her children will miss her very much.

3. My mom's first cousin (my first cousin once removed for those of you versed in geneology) lost his wife recently too. I spent quite a bit of time in the sympathy card section of the store looking for something appropriate to send and I was impressed with the selections. It seems that card writers are more in touch with what people want to say about love and loss than they were even a few years ago. There were also lots with verses from scripture, which also pleased me.

4. One of my other cousins (first cousin once removed - it's not so hard to follow geneology lines once you get the hang of it) was inspired to send me the book As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen.  She wrote me a lovely note and said she felt inspired to send it to me, not to undermine my faith but I think rather to share hers. So I am looking forward to starting it.

5.  Last week, Mr. Pete and I manned a booth at the CHEO convention. The booth was for our support group and was the only Catholic booth at the convention.  As I was sitting there a woman came up and asked me if I was having a good time and if people were being nice to me, because "sometimes Christians aren't very nice to Catholics."  It was a very interesting exchange and I'll be blogging more on that later.

6.  While I was there I learned a lot about a program called College Plus .  This is basically a coaching and planning program that helps you through the CLEP test process until you have enough credits to apply to a program like Thomas Edison State College. What intrigues me about the program is that for between $12,000 and $15,000, my child can have his Bachelor's degree.  I'll be blogging more that later as well.

7.  Calvin lost his roommate about a month ago. It seems the young man just had a hard time learning how to manage his money and so Calvin had to find a new roommate.  So without any advice or guidance from us, he put an ad on Craig's List for a roommate and then set about interviewing roomies.  He had like six guys and one woman apply.  I had my fingers crossed that he wouldn't chose the woman.  But as  it turned out the guys were completely clueless!  Either they didn't have jobs or they they had part time jobs at minimum wage, and one of them Calvin couldn't even understand his speech.  So to my shock - he picked the woman.  Calvin's girlfriend wasn't very happy about it either.  But the new roommate is in her 30s, she  paid cash, she works full time and is studying for her master's degree so she is barely every there. When she is there she is exceptionally neat.   He said it's like NOT having a roommate. So we'll see how it works out.  Parenting a young adult out on his own could be summed up like this - all the stress/ none of the power!

It's good to be back!

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Domestic Church Daily Clips 01/08/2010

    • Employers and career experts see a growing problem in American society — an abundance of college graduates, many burdened with tuition-loan debt, heading into the work world with a degree that doesn't mean much anymore.

    • The problem isn't just a soft job market — it's an oversupply of graduates. In 1973, a bachelor's degree was more of a rarity, since just 47% of high school graduates went on to college. By October 2008, that number had risen to nearly 70%. For many Americans today, a trip through college is considered as much of a birthright as a driver's license.

    • What's not watered down is the tab. The cost of average tuition rose 6.5% this fall, and a report released on Dec. 1 by the Project on Student Debt showed that the IOU is getting bigger. Two-thirds of all students now leave college with outstanding loans; the average amount of debt rose to $23,200 in 2008. In the last academic year, the total amount loaned to students increased about 18% from the previous year, to $81 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

      Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for recent grads rose as well. It is now 10.6%, a record high.

    • With almost 40% of the nation's college-age students in some form of post-secondary education — and tuition costs as high as they've ever been — we don't really have a handle on what students learn at university. Or whether they're learning anything at all

    • re colleges given too much respect?

      Universities definitely get too much of a free pass. We have not gotten
      in the habit of asking hard questions about whether or not universities are
      doing a good job of teaching their students. Some of them are. There are
      fantastic universities, fantastic departments, fantastic programs, but there
      are also terrible universities, terrible departments, terrible programs. And
      the great fiction is that there are none of the latter. Listen to the way
      that we talk to students about the admissions process. Even as they compete
      for the best students, schools say, "It's all about fit. It's not about
      finding the best university. It's about finding the university that's right
      for you." And so there's this polite fiction that every university is right
      for some student, and every student is right for some university. Well,
      that's just not true.

  • Getting a mini-spike in hits from AGH blog. If you are here from there welcome-  here are the links you are looking for.
    Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
  • Friday, September 18, 2009

    7- Quick Takes Friday

    Join Jen and the other Quicktakers over at the Conversion Diary.

    1. Apologies for the slow blogging this week. It was our first full week back to homeschooling and all of the activities that go along with it. I had forgotten how busy I am raising my remaining 5 children! Particularly hard is getting my work schedule down as well as the homeschool schedule. Something has to bend or break. This week I just put aside some of the work to get everything else done.

    2. Next year I will have a high school freshman and a high school senior. I can't believe it!

    3. I've been considering going to see a grief counselor although I wonder how that would help me other than taking $40 or more just to deal with something that will eventually work itself out. I remember 23 years ago or so, being at the bedside of my beloved grandpa when he was dying and it took months to get that image out of my mind. But it did eventually go because my day to day life didn't include him. With my mother that is different. She was a big part of my daily life for the past decade. Throughout the day I can see her glassy eyes, struggling for breath and I remember the horrible smell of death (that no one really talks about that much). I'd like to just quit having those types of flashbacks.

    4. Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame  died this week from cancer.  She had the kind of death I had envisioned for mom. 

    5.  Farrah Fawcett,  Mary Travers, Patrick Swayze - does it seem like everyone dies from cancer?  What's the scariest is that some of these cancers have no symptoms until it is literally too late to treat them.  I feel a little hopeless about that.  To the point that Mr. Pete and I have started joking about it.  Every ache, pain, or burp I'll pass off as "ovarian cancer."  Get the hiccups?  "Oh it's just my ovarian cancer."  We laugh about it.  But it does seem that inevitable.

    6.  We did make it to the cemetery this week to do the stations of the cross.  Our local Catholic cemetery has the most beautiful stations, and after you finish saying them you are at the foot at this massively huge cross.  Unfortunately, this year we showed up when the weed wacking guy was there and he proceeded to wack away while we were there.  Also they cut down the beautiful shade trees that lined the way of the stations.  The weed wacker guy told me that they had outlived their 25-year life span and were diseased and weak.  They took them down and planted these Ohio pear trees.  Apparently these will grow upwards but not be as bushy and give a clearer view of the cross itself.  We'll see.

    7.  The horrible economy took another bite out of our lives this week.  Long-time readers might remember that during Calvin's senior year, he went to the career day for the local fire department.  Calvin couldn't apply because he hadn't graduated from high school yet.  It turns out that all of the young people who did apply and get in lost their jobs this week - the entire rookie class. Calvin felt grateful to have the job he has even though it's a long commute.  Long-time readers might also remember the art classes at the local community center my kids go to.  Those are in danger of being scratched due to budget cuts.  Izzy and Noah are in a clay class this session, but that might be it for the year.  More of that hopey changey thing I guess.


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    Thursday, July 09, 2009

    The After The Funeral blues

    I am a big fan of the Carpenters. One of my favorite songs from their repertoire is Rainy Days on Mondays and several of the lines seem to fit how I'm feeling these days:

    Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
    Sometimes I'd like to quit
    Nothing ever seems to fit
    Hangin' around
    Nothing to do but frown

    What I've got they used to call the blues
    Nothin' is really wrong
    Feelin' like I don't belong

    What I feel has come and gone before
    No need to talk it out
    We know what it's all about

    I spent so much time trying to cajole and encourage my mother to feel better and get better and seek treatments to get healthy that I didn't realize that I had heaped up a lot of denial. When she was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma and given a life expectancy of five years, I assured myself that she would prove them wrong and to a certain extent she did. Her myeloma progressed very very slowly, and after our baby girl was born and named for her, I was certain that would be the incentive she would need to keep on the road to relatively good health and long life. And even though I knew that the institution of medicine is hardly foolproof, I trusted them to take care of mom at her monthly oncology appointments. The diagnosis of stage IIIc ovarian cancer completely blind sighted all of us. How could you possibly be seeing an oncologist monthly  for one type cancer and have him totally miss the new more deadly cancer inside of your body? I still can't wrap my mind around that.

    So there's that. There were the almost daily visits, sometimes twice a day for over 12 weeks, to visit and encourage mom in the hospital, in the rehab center, in the nursing home, in the hospital again and then back at the nursing home. Those visits took a great deal of time and effort every day but they became a way of life.

    And immediately after mom died, there was the busy work of preparing for the funeral and the luncheon. And the funny thing is, I have done this before. I knew that as soon as the last person left the luncheon, it would just us. Everyone goes back to their daily lives and we would have to figure out what the new normal is.

    I can't say that I miss the daily visits. Those were getting harder and harder to endure the closer we came to the end. But what I miss now are the way things use to be, before the illness. When the phone rings now in the morning, my first thought is, "Oh, that's mom." And when something funny or interesting happens during the day, my first thought is, "I'm going to call mom, she'll like this." And of course I can't. There will be no grandparents day this year for us, no plans to take mom to the family reunion, no trips to the park, none of it. And that's what I'm missing.

    Yesterday I did get two phone calls in the morning. One of them was about my participation in the youth group as a parent adviser and I said no thanks. And when the caller asked how I was doing I said that I knew there would be a let down after the funeral, and then when she asked if I was feeling let down, the tears came and I couldn't stop them. Just weird stuff like that.

    On Tuesday I took Sam to take his test to get his temporary driver's license (second attempt) and while he was testing I was reading a book about how we handle death. One part of the book really stood out to me. It said that people will look at the death of an older person as "she had along life," "she isn't suffering any more," "she's in a better place," etc. And it's all true. I can accept all of it. I've probably even said some of it to other people! But it was still my mother and in my mind's eye she's not an 81 year old cachectic cancer patient. She's a 30-something mom taking me for walks, and teaching me to tie my shoes, driving me to my first dancing classes and telling me fascinating stories along the way. Or she's the 40-something mom, president of the band boosters, supporting my sister and me in all of our activities while holding down a teaching job. I see the musician, the pianist and organist that everyone depends on and admires for her great skill and technique. I hear the lovely soprano voice and the clear diction. I see the grandma driving kids to soccer and rocking babies. And I miss that and I want it back.

    A lady on the 4Reallearningforums shared this with me:

    I have to share- while at Mass one Mother's Day, many years ago, I saw an older gentleman (about early 80's) who was standing in the vestibule, visibly shaken and crying. I went to another lady, as I had a cranky toddler, and asked her to see if he was ok. She did, and I watched her talk to him, smile and hug him, and she came back. I asked if he was ok, and she said, yes, he said he was just missing his mom.

    Sympathy cards are still trickling in. I got a letter from church about how they're there if I need anything. But honestly, I don't think there's any help for what I really need. This is the part you just have to get through. This is grief. God, I'm so tired of grieving.

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    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Letting the doctor know

    I guess I'm still in the anger part of my grief, and part of that anger is directed towards my mother's oncologist. This is partly because mom saw him regularly for a couple of years and the diagnosis of ovarian cancer was still missed! Ovarian cancer has been called the silent killer because there are no reliable screening tests for it. The translation means that doctors have to do it the old fashioned way, getting a good history, listening to the patient and being good clinicians. We use to call that skill.

    The truth is there are a group of symptoms that could mean ovarian cancer.

    So this is me blowing off a little steam with the oncologist.

    Dear Doctor:

    I am writing to let you know that my mother, died on June 22, 2009.

    As you know, mom started complaining more and more of extreme fatigue and a loss of appetite late last year and into the 2009. At the time, I thought her myeloma was progressing and apparently you did too although my understanding is that for the most part it seemed to be under control and progressing slowly if at all. It was not until mom collapsed completely at the end of March and was hospitalized that Dr. K. made the unexpected diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

    I now know that mom’s symptoms were classic signs for ovarian cancer. I have further learned that women who have had cancer before are at higher risks of having ovarian cancer. Mom of course had had bladder cancer and also the multiple myeloma.

    I am writing now to let you know how disappointed I am that this was not caught sooner. I understand that there is no reliable “screening” mechanism for ovarian cancer. However, since my mother was seeing you regularly and her signs were classic for the disease AND since she already had cancer which made her at higher risk for ovarian cancer, I am astonished that this wasn’t picked up sooner.

    In my opinion, you dropped the ball on this one. I don’t know if it would have made a difference if you had drawn a CA 125 earlier or if you had really listened to her and suspected ovarian cancer last December or January if it would have prolonged her life or not. But I do know that by the time it was found she was too weak to do the chemotherapy protocols and she never had a chance or a choice. And so now I am without my mother and my children no longer have a grandmother.

    I know she was an 81-year-old woman with terminal cancer anyway, but before the ovarian cancer became symptomatic, she had a good, vibrant and productive life with her family and the community. Her life had meaning and was important to a lot of people. She mattered and I think it is tragic that this was not diagnosed sooner particularly since her symptoms were precisely what is presented on the Ovarian Cancer web site. I hold you partially responsible for this.

    I would hope that in the future, if any other older women present this way that you would immediately suspect ovarian cancer and treat them accordingly.


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    Wednesday, May 06, 2009

    Works for me Wednesday- signs of Ovarian cancer, the hidden killer

      Ovarian Cancer has been known as the silent killer because it's symptoms are so insidious. But over the years researchers have asked ovarian cancer patients what symptoms told them that something was wrong, and they have compiled a list of symptoms that seemed pretty universal, especially lower abdominal bloating, profound fatigue, and the inability to eat.
      Symptoms every woman should know for ovarian cancer.

    I want to add to this that my mother received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma back in 2004. As she complained more and more of being tired and losing her appetite, we thought it was the myeloma advancing. And even though she was regularly going to her oncologist and getting blood work and tests that showed the myeloma was only slowly progressing, none of the professionals EVER MENTIONED THAT IT MIGHT BE A DIFFERENT CANCER. NO ONE MENTIONED OR LOOKED FOR OVARIAN CANCER.

    And maybe if we had all LISTENED to what mom was actually saying instead of assuming it was all in her head or part of the myeloma, we could have caught this sooner.

    Know the warming signs and listen to your sisters, mothers and ourselves.

    Works for Me.

    Ovarian Cancer signs.
    Gilda Radner.

    Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    From birth to death, the medical treadmill- why don't we question it?

    A week or so ago, the nurse at my mom's nursing home told me that they HAD to make an appointment for my mom to go in and see the surgeon who did her laparotomy and removed the cancerous ovarian mass. The nurse made the appointment and told me when it was. Since mom has not been out of bed much in six weeks, a wheelchair van company was contacted to provide transportation to this appointment. This is where the fun started.

    The van would not transport mom without $120 up front. It seems Medicare and Blue Cross wouldn't cover it. The only other option was for us to take her ourselves and I was certainly not looking forward to that. We would have had to get her into the wheelchair, and then into the car, reverse the process at the doctor's office and then do it again after the appointment. It would take a lot of wear and tear on me and my older boys, hoping to get her in and out without hurting her and probably not all that comfortable for mom either. So we paid the money.

    I opted to meet mom at the doctor's office. When I got there I was a little surprised at how small the waiting room was. I think my downstairs bathroom might be bigger! I took a seat behind the door, which got solidly bumped everytime another person came into the room. I wondered how we were going to manage when mom arrived in a wheelchair taking up what was left of the available floor space in the waiting room. Turns out that it wasn't a problem.

    Every woman in that waiting room was there for some kind of gynecologic cancer. There were a lot of nerves and anxiety in there; you could cut the tension with a knife. But there was also a little bit of humor when some of us got a little chit chat going. Still, for all the seriousness that brought us to that office, I was a little surprised at how quickly people were getting in and out. In the 45 minutes I sat there waiting for mom to arrive, five women got in and out. These weren't going to be long, drawn out appointments with a lot of counseling, discussion and a bit of hand holding. In and out.

    When mom did arrive (late because the driver didn't know his way around Akron) I navigated the narrow hallway and doorways. It was impossible to make a smooth turn into the exam room. I had to lift mom in the wheel chair and then pivot on the wheel in the direction I wanted to go.

    I didn't really recognize my mother. She was hunched over to one side, unable to straighten up. She looked more like 101 instead of 81. She complained of pain in her bottom, pain in her abdomen and even her shoulder. She was wearing a caftan robe over her that clearly needed a night gown under it or a shirt over it. I know if mom had felt better she would never have gone out with that much of her chest exposed. And I sat there wondering what in the world was so damn important to be done at this appointment that we had to bring mom across town into this tiny office when it clearly took so much time and effort and discomfort on everyone's part?

    In short order the surgeon came to our room and sat down. Mom started talking about how she was feeling and what was going on. He started writing. After about a minute he asked, "Who is her primary care doctor?" He wrote that down. Mom talked about a minute more and he asked to see her incision. Mom's incision is about six to eight inches long. He lifted her gown and maybe saw about an inch of it, pronounced it healing well, and kept writing. He didn't palpate her abdomen. He didn't want her on the examining table.

    As he was getting ready to get up and leave (maybe a good five minutes or so into the visit) I asked him again about her cancer staging. He checked his records and said, "Stage III."

    Mom did lift her head up then and said "that's not good!" The surgeon wrote something else down.

    Mom asked, "So how much time do I have?"

    To which he replied, "Well that depends on whether or not you decide to go with chemotherapy."

    Mom went on about her experiences so far with cancer treatment, and when the surgeon heard that she already had a record at the Cancer center and a regular oncologist for her multiple myeloma, he said, "You need to talk to your oncologist about this if you decide to go for chemo." He looked directly at me when he said, "if."

    There was no handholding, no small talk. Mom did want him to look at her backside which is giving her so much trouble, but I know it's because of the bedsores, and I also knew he had no intention of examining her more than he already had. He did rub my shoulder sympathetically as he passed by me to leave the room. He promptly went back to his office and I could hear him start to dictate a letter to mom's primary care physician. As a transcriptionist, I guess I appreciated that he does his dictation right away.

    The ambulance guy showed up quickly and I walked out with them to make sure mom got on the van alright. As the motorized lift was taking her up I told her that I would visit tomorrow. For a minute my mother was back. "You better!" she said, "or I'll come and get you!" She smiled. I teased that I might just take her up on that to see if she would, but by that time she was hunched over again with another pain. I don't thinks he enjoyed the sunshine, the warm breeze, or saw any of the bright and beautiful flowers blooming along the side of the building.

    And I sat there and wondered what the hell had just happened. We had just spent $120 dollars and most of the morning to get an elderly, sick woman in a lot of pain across town so the surgeon could dot his i's, cross his t's and get his part of her case closed. The nurse at the nursing home took out the staples and she could have told him how the incision looked. In my opinion the entire exercise was a complete waste of time.

    I also thought about these women, battling their own different cancers and diagnoses. All of them in and out of there in record order. It can only be compared to the prenatal/OB assembly line where pregnant women come in, pee in a cup, get weighed, measured, spend two minutes with the doctor and then go out to set up another appointment. This is standard of care. And we have allowed it to become this way. And before anyone harps on how national health care will change that let me just say, it absolutely will change it - it will get worse.

    But now that I "get it." (God, am I dense or what?!) I absolutely refuse to go through this again. I am going to call the oncologist's physician's assistant and see if there is a way we can set up this treatment and appointment in combination with an actual treatment, or if we can make some other course of action without having to drag mom all over town. That may mean bringing in hospice. I don't know. And now that mom has heard from the horse's mouth about her cancer staging, maybe she has some ideas of her own on how she wishes to proceed.

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    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Tammy Faye Messner

    Tammy Faye was on Larry King's show last night. She is battling cancer and is down to a mere 65 pounds. But her spirit is big and once I got past the shock of her appearance I was moved by her courage and faith. This isn't easy to look at but I think Tammy Faye is trying to teach the country something that we rarely get a chance to witness up close any more - how to live life to the fullest right to the end, and how to have a good death.

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    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Elizabeth Edwards with metastatic breast cancer.

    Edwards Will Continue Presidential Run

    I was very sorry to hear this. My best advice for Mr. Edwards would be to drop out of the race and just be with your wife. Be with your kids. You won't regret it.

    Unfortunately I have know several younger people who have died from cancer over the years. My sister-in-law passed away before her only child's first birthday. My other sister-in-law died from lung cancer before her youngest graduated from high school. My cousin just recently died at Christmas time. I also worked with a wonderful woman in her mid 40s who passed away from breast cancer when she had kids in high school and middle school. It was very sad.

    I learned a lot from these women about the importance of family and what really matters in life. Not surprisingly, getting a better gig wasn't one of their priorities.

    Doctor's seem unclear on Elizabeth Edwards's longevity. The important thing is to make good use of the time she has NOW. To pack that time full of love and memories, of reaching out to friends and loved ones and just making good use of the time that is left. Going on a strenuous presidential campaign to possibly win an even more strenuous political office doesn't seem like the best way to do that to me.

    Update: From the New York Times. It's stage IV breast cancer. Her expected longevity is not good. The woman I worked with who died to this was in and out of the hospital, suffered from lymphedema, pain and eventually even dementia. One of the commenters on Amy Welborn's blog mentioned that if Edwards did win, for the first time, America would watch their first lady's health decline. It's a sad situation especially for the Edwards young children.
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