• Category Archives Cancer
  • I’ve Been Negligent… I’m Sorry

    The post with my dad’s obituary on November 6, 2016, was the last post I have written here. Writing a new post will push it down below this one… I wasn’t ready to do that before, I am not sure if I am ready now.

    I was not ready for any of this; my hubby is diagnosed with Lymphoma on December 13, 2015 and goes through a course of chemo. In April of 2016, my mother is diagnosed with lung cancer and given four to six weeks to live. She had chemo for a couple of months, but it was too much for her, so she stopped the chemo. She has been on oxygen ever since, using an oxygen machine at home. She is still with us today, but recently she has been in the hospital several times. She has congestive heart failure and her lungs fill with fluid so she get pneumonia. In the hospital they give her medicine, then send her home.

    In September of 2016, my dad was suddenly showing signs of illness. At the end of September, he went to the emergency room twice, only to be released. Something was very wrong. On Thursday, September 29th, 2016, dad had a massive stroke.

    This is really hard… I write this with tears flowing freely… This is not necessarily a bad thing…

    Since the stroke, there was only only one word he could say, it was “Eila,” my mother’s name. There was something he wanted to share, and on Saturday and Sunday he tried to speak to both of us. His frustration was apparent as he tried to form the words that would not come. I privately assured him that he did not have to worry about mom for I would be there for her. He seemed to relax a little.

    On Tuesday, October 4th 2016, my mother and I were sitting on opposite sides of his bed, me on his right, mom on his left. We had just been asked by the hospital staff to decide which nursing home we should place dad in. Dad had an oxygen mask on, and he could not speak, but as I looked into his beautiful crystal blue eyes, they were clear. He knew what was going on. As mom and I talked, I glanced at dad and his mask seemed to fog up. I reached for his hand, but it was too late. The nurses came bursting into the room; the alarm at the nurse’s desk had gone off. Dad’s heart had stopped.

    I begged him to come back, even when I knew he could not.


  • Dealing With Cancer, XXXIV

    Have you ever been so numb that you start staring at walls for no reason? You stare and stare, but you do not even see the wall? Do you ever feel like you could do this for days, preferring the blank wall to the realities of life? Have you ever felt like you were not ready for the realities, but you were helpless to change them? Has this helplessness ever made you so furious that you rise up and shake your fist to the sky… Shake your fist at no one?

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    This is the most beautiful wedding picture I have ever seen. How can I live without them? They are so in love…

    My mother has shocked her doctors because she is sill alive; I am grateful. My dad has just been diagnosed with possible lung and stomach cancer.

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  • Dealing With Cancer XXXIII

    09/05/2016~ I have been bad… In June I posted to Facebook that Jim was in remission, but for reasons I do not understand, I did not post it here.

    The Petscan showed that the cancer in his lymph nodes, liver, and spleen no longer posed a threat, but was it gone? The answer was that Jim had to be tested every three months. I get all my answers from Jim because I do not want to create more stress for him, understanding very well the need that we “only children” have for control over our own lives.

    It is not that he does not want me involved, for he really does, and tries to share everything with me, but the information I get is subject to his interpretations. This drives me crazy, but I try to remain positive and uplifting.

    How is he doing? Well, I am not sure. He easily spends 20 hours of a 24 hour day in bed. He has no energy to inspire him. I have been sidelined with diabetic wounds on both ankles, complicated by MRSA, which I got during treatment the last time, when I got a spider bite. Jim has had to take over shopping duties because I cannot drive without immense pain. He also drives me to my weekly appointment. This seems to have done him good because it gives him purpose, but I can see this slowly fading.

    Jim has his first three-month appointment on September 23rd. We have no choice but to take things day by day.

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  • Dealing With Cancer XXXII

    This waiting is unbearable!

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    Yes, we are playing the waiting game! Jim was given “a month off” after his chemotherapy course ended.

    We were happy because Jim needed a break. What were we thinking? Jim has his next super-duper scan on Tuesday, June 14th in Roseville, then he sees his doctor on Monday, June 20th. Until then, we have no idea if the chemotherapy worked, or what plan B might be.

    Jim has spent the last month sleeping most of the time, a sign that deep depression is setting in. He gets up to eat several times a day, when he has an appetite, but sometimes he will go 18 to 24 hours without eating. He says he is just not hungry. I talked him into weighing himself… He now weighs 156 pounds. Am I scared, you ask? Do wild bears $hit in the woods? Here is the proof.

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    I try so hard to keep things positive and Jim hasn’t completely given up hope, but there is not a day that goes by that he does not say, “I’m dying.”

    So here we are, waiting!

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    too long to wait

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  • Dealing With Cancer XXXI

    05/28/2016, I have not written anything in a while… My bad…

    We have been in a holding pattern. Jim’s six month “course” with Chemotherapy is complete, and now we wait for him to go to Kaiser, Roseville, for a new high tech scan. After those results are in, the doctor will determine where to go from here.

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    Jim has been feeling fatigued, with no energy. He had a really bad neck ache, but I am unable to find any lumps. He now says his neck no longer aches. Hmmm…

    It is frustrating to try to find specific information about lymphoma. Do not get me wrong, there is plenty of information out there, but some of it is so vague that is becomes useless. I looked up neck pain with lymphoma, and almost all of it is related to the diagnosis for lymphoma; sometimes, people that think they have the flu, with classic symptoms like swollen lymph glands in the neck, are diagnosed with lymphoma. The lymph nodes we associate with this are in the the front of the neck, but his pain is/was coming from the back of his neck. I learned we have lymph nodes at the back of the neck also.

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    Uncertainty is torture!


  • Dealing With Cancer XXX

    05/03/2016~ The secret is out so I am no longer obliged to keep the secret.

    My mother has just been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of lung cancer. Her lung has already collapsed and she now needs oxygen to keep her breathing normal. She asked the doctor who had shared this diagnosis with her how long he thought she had. He answered that she had four to six weeks. We were all devastated!

    After chatting with him longer, she learned that he was a professional tennis player from Calcutta, India, and as it turns out, he knows Jarkko Nieminen, a Finnish professional tennis player (recently retired). He looked at her with new eyes. She was no longer just an 80-year old woman to him, and he came back and ordered Chemotherapy. She finished her first series on Friday, April 29, 2016.

    We are now waiting for the results of her MRI/CT Scan on a new machine they have at Kaiser in Roseville. Ironically, my husband will be getting his MRI/CT SCAN on the same machine on June 13, 2016. They are worried that mom’s cancer has metastasized and is in her brain. He told her if that was the case, then they would try radiation therapy. She is happy just knowing that he is now on her side!!

     

    Dad, me and mom, migrating to the USA, 1964
    Dad, me and mom, migrating to the USA, 1964

     

    My beautiful mother.
    My beautiful mother.

     

    Mom and Dad on their wedding day
    Mom and Dad on their wedding day

     

    50th Wedding Anniversary,  mom and dad
    50th Wedding Anniversary, mom and dad


  • Dealing With Cancer: XXIX

    04/29/2016~ Poor Jim! He has no more delirium, but the memories have come flooding back.

    Jim was taking a nap on the couch and I was writing a new chapter in my book.

    “I made a fool out of myself this weekend didn’t I?” Jim asked quietly from the couch. I raised my head, knowing he was watching me, but I did not turn to look at him.

    “That sounds a little harsh,” I responded. “Remember what your doctor said? ‘You are a sick man Mr. Vogel.'” I turned to look at him, laying on the couch, eyes glistening with tears that had yet to spill over. I got up and somehow managed to sit on the floor next to him and gather him into my arms, holding him tight, letting him softly cry.

    I wanted to scream at the sky, and shake my fist… at no one, I was at a loss, but I have to be strong.

    Cancer is now taking another… Why does it want the two I cannot live without? Four to six weeks I am told.

    I scream and shake my fist at no one…

    Pablo Picasso
    Pablo Picasso

  • Dealing With Cancer: XXVIII

    04/25/2016~ The last three days have not been good days… Jim’s newest Chemotherapy side effect seems to be Delirium. He is exhausted but he can’t sleep. This is the most frightening ordeal we have gone through. I have asked him to call his doctor, but he refuses.

    He had a shorter episode like this a couple of weeks ago, but it passed quickly after he was able to sleep. I am at a loss…

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  • Dealing With Cancer XXVII

    We got great news! The last CT scan shows that his cancer had gone down significantly and the doctor felt that after a few more Chemotherapy treatments, he could go into remission!!!
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    The doctor had shown him side by side comparisons of the first CT Scan taken in December and the one taken last week. When Jim got home, he drew me a picture to show what he saw and what the doctor told him. The cancer on his spleen and liver had shrunk to about 1/3 rd of it’s original size. We would have been even more excited had we known he had cancer on his liver and his spleen. It was a little like getting bad news at the same time… Things were still worse than we had thought before, but the good news is that remission is around the corner!

    Jim had Chemotherapy for six hours on Monday and today he had one hour and he will have another hour again tomorrow. Jim let me take pictures of his chest today. They leave the tubing plugged into the “port” he had surgically implanted into his chest just for the Chemotherapy. Tomorrow the tubing will be gone and he will just have a ping pong ball size lump there. On the other side of his chest, he has his Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD).

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    This last one is not his chest, but I love this picture!!

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