Home > Uncategorized > Two Weeks After Mom’s Cancer Diagnosis: ER’s, ICU, and The Visit

Two Weeks After Mom’s Cancer Diagnosis: ER’s, ICU, and The Visit

Never having been up close and personal, day in and day out, hour by hour, to a person afflicted with cancer, I didn’t know what to expect.  What was normal and likely?  What was abnormal and out of character?  What did every little thing mean, if anything?

Jason, my middle brother, drove up for the second weekend.  We planned on doing the same things we’d done the first weekend, spending lots of time with Mom, talking and going out to eat.  On Saturday morning, the sky finally having cleared, I mowed her yard while Jason sat inside with her.  She seemed upbeat and chipper.  A couple of hours later, she was laying down, not feeling good.

That night, I went to church, but midway through the service, Angela texted me that Mom wasn’t doing well.  She still hadn’t gotten out of bed, she complained of her stomach hurting, and she’d thrown up a little.  I went back to Mom’s house and stayed up with her most of the night, eventually convincing her to take her prescriptions- some anti-nauseau and pain pills.  Around four that morning, she drifted off to sleep.

I left her with Jason and went home to shower before going back to work at church.  An hour later, they texted me to let me know she’d woken up and begun vomiting again.  We convinced her to let us take her to the ER.  There, they diagnosed her as severely dehydrated and started IV’s with saline along with morphine.  Five hours later, they released her with more prescriptions to be filled.

Since she couldn’t be left alone, I stayed with her again on Monday night and her brother agreed to stay with her on Monday.  She spent most of the time sleeping.

The gastric doctor called me late Monday morning with the results of the biopsy, the results that weren’t supposed to be ready until Tuesday.  “I’d hoped that the initial diagnosis was wrong, but it wasn’t.  Your mother’s primary cancer is stomach and it’s the most aggressive form.  Her cancer has advanced and I don’t know if treatment is an option.  You need to get her to an oncologist as soon as possible.  Your mother is a very strong woman.  Most patients I see in her condition can barely walk into my office, but she was sitting up, laughing and talking.”

He recommended one in Dallas, but taking one look at her, there was no way she could sit or even lay in a car for thirty minutes.  We found one in Arlington and I begged and pleaded my way to getting her an appointment on Wednesday.

She continued sleeping until late Monday afternoon, when she became sick to her stomach again.  This was the worst we’d seen, so we called an ambulance and took her back to the ER.  This time they found she had a urinary tract infection.  Given her state, the doctors admitted her to the ICU, but that was after we spent seven hours in the ER.

The following morning I called the oncologist’s office and once more pleaded our case.  “Is there any way he can come consult with us at the hospital and let us know what, if any, treatment options are available.?”

His nurse called me back an hour later.  “He’ll be there this afternoon.”

That night, he arrived and in the most gentle way possible, he delivered the news that we all knew, “I’ve reviewed all your records and tests and as much as it pains me to say this, there is no treatment.  We could give you chemo, but it would be painful and awful and it might by you a week or two.  If you were my sister or mother, there is no way I would let you go through that.”

Not a tear on her face, whereas I may have shed a few.  “I’m ready.  How long do I have?”

“I wish I could answer that question for you, but God didn’t grant me those powers.  You might have a week.  You might have a month.  I don’t know.  But this is my prayer for you:  If you live a month, that you have twenty-nine wonderful days and just one bad day.  If you have a week, I hope that you have six great days and then one bad day.  I hope that your good days are filled with visits from friends and family.  I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you it’s coming and it’s coming soon.”

She nodded her head.

“One more thing.  Now is your time to be the queen.  I suspect that you’re a strong woman and you do for others rather than letting others do for you.  This is the time to reverse that.  Whatever you need, whatever you want, he (pointing at me) is going to take care of.  Your son, your family, is here to carry out your wishes.”

“I want to go home,” she said, “I want to see my dogs.”

“The doctors here are going to treat you for your infection and as soon as that’s cleared up, you can go home with hospice.  They will make your comfortable and ease your pains,” he said, and then he reminded her again, “but your family is here to carry out your wishes.”

She and the oncologist continued talking for another hour and a half.  They discussed life and religion and their children.  There was no need to discuss cancer and death.  That had been dealt with.

After the doctor left, she stayed awake for the next forty-eight hours, talking non-stop.  If family or friends stopped by, she started talking as soon as they entered the room.  If none were available, she talked all night long to the nurses, asking about their kids, their pets, and their lives, giving them advice on what they needed to do.  Eventually, they gave her a pill to make her sleep, but even that she fought.

On Friday, they moved her to a regular room.  Friends and family poured into her room to visit with her.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Pamela Stout
    April 13, 2012 at 8:11 am

    This is really great Chris. I know a lot of people of asked many questions about your mom and I had not answers for them except what she had told me. I love her very much and my heart is so sad to have her go through this. I know that there is a reason for everything but it is sometimes hard to see it. I know her faith is strongh and her name is in the Lambs Book of Life, so I do gain some confort from that. My spirit is rejoying that she will see our Lord but my flesh is crying, which I am sure yours is too. Thank you for this insight of what has gone on. My pray is that the suffering will stop and Pam will be home quickly. I will be praying for you and the family.
    The other Pam,
    Pam Stout

  2. Marsha Dikes Royder
    April 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Thank you Chris for sharing this heartbreaking journey. We are saddened to hear of Pam’s diagnosis. My prayer is that Pam’s pain and nausea will be relieved and we echo the wishes of the Oncologist.
    Give her a hug and kiss from us and know all of you are in our thoughts and prayers.
    Aunt Marsha, and Grandpa Dikes.

    • April 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Marsha- Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I hope all is well with you.

  3. Dale Magee
    April 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Chris keep on doing the good job you are doing. As you know I can relate to what you are going through. You are a good son, son in law, husband and dad. We will be lifting you all in our prayers.

    Dale

  4. Nancy Bergstrom
    April 14, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Chris, your mother is in my prayers. i have been down this road, and at that time, I did not have God to help me. I thank God each day that I had the friendship I did with her and the pleasure of her company when she set beside me in church.. She said she will save me a seat in heaven. God be with you and your family at this time.
    Nancy Bergstrom

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