Some of you may be aware that my mother has been battling cancer. I may have mentioned it in a post or two, but I've also mentioned it in comments to others' posts when they've lost a family member, including Pauly, Falstaff , and Wil Wheaton's friend, Annie.
Anyway, my mother underwent a radical, experimental surgical procedure (hyperthermic chemo perfusion) back in April 2004, where after the cancer is surgically removed, heated liquid chemo is basically poured into the body cavity and all internal surfaces are "washed" to directly kill any remaining cancer. When she was diagnosed in January 2004, they told her she had 6 months without that surgery. With the surgery, they gave her a 50% chance to last another 2 to 3 years. So she had the surgery. Just over a month in the hospital to recover, 2 rounds of follow up chemotherapy, and not quite a full year to get her strength back. After that, she went back to work…as a hospice nurse! My mother, who spent the last several years of her career working with the terminally ill, decided that since she'd beaten cancer back that she'd go back to working with the terminally ill. She was that kind of a strong and caring person. So after a year of working, she and my father retired. Her regular tests were showing some recurrence of the cancer, so they decided to take the time to enjoy life for themselves. They did some traveling, they saw relatives, they had fun. During this time, the cancer was reestablishing itself. According to the doctors who would read her MRI scans, the cancer was "slow-growing" but it apparently WAS growing. Finally, her last scan showed that it was spreading from her abdomen up to her chest, including starting to compress the main aorta coming out of her heart. So a second round of surgery, similar to the first one was scheduled for Thursday, April 19.
It was going to be a 10 hour or so procedure, and I took the day off and my sister flew in from Memphis. Everything kicked off around 7 a.m. She had been tired, in pain, but seemed in good spirits, so we weren't too worried. I mean, she came thru the first surgery just fine…why should this be any different? So my dad gets a call at 3:30 in the afternoon. The surgeon said that there had been some complications, that when they were removing the cancer from around her liver, some of the cancer had gotten into the main artery that fed blood to the liver and that the artery had torn. They worked into the night to stabilize her, and finally at 8 p.m. the doctor came down and told us that they had the bleeding under control, she was on a respirator, and that they'd go back in first thing in the morning on Friday to try and repair the damage and finish removal of the cancer. So we all show up at 7 a.m. again, and the oncology surgeon and the vascular specialist he'd called in Thursday afternoon met us and told us how extensive things were, and told us that her chances were slim, but it was possible that they could repair the damage. We unanimously said to go for it, and the doctors headed up to the SICU. Around 9:30 a.m. we got the call. They couldn't control the bleeding, and she'd gone into cardiac arrest. They did open heart massage for about 10 minutes, but couldn't revive her. My mother died at 9:20 a.m. on April 20, 2007.
We had 3 years that we hadn't expected to have, she's in a much better place, and no longer in pain. Don't tell me that the cancer won. She fucking beat cancer! It can't get her anymore! We all miss her terribly, but to know that she's in heaven and no longer in pain is worth the pain that we all feel. I wanted to include a picture, but all my digital pics are on my computer's hard drive and it is still a non-functional pile of electronic crap. Sorry for the downer nature of this post, but I had to get this off my chest. Tell your parents that you love them. Tell your loved ones that you love them. And watch out for cancer. It fucking sucks.