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My DIL is home - again

Nov 20, 2009 - 6 comments




On May 14 my DIL was dianosed w/OVCA. We were all so very shocked, stunned, and every other word you can think of that means 'we can't believe it.'  The first two weeks were terrible as we walked around in a haze and w/she and my son trying to figure out what to do. First, they were referred to Dr. T. in Austin. They liked him very much, but felt the pressure to go to MDA.

Meanwhile, DIL was getting acupuncture and utilizing the services of a PhD in nutrition and a hypnotherapist. Seeking cures everywhere, they even visited a faith healer who they immediately determined was a fraud. They went to a man who claimed he could cure cancer by massage. But after the the couple visited him, my son said his home looked like something out of "Silence of the Lambs." So, no go there.

After visiting MDA several times, and after what son & DIL considered a brush-off (she'd had 4 chemos; doc said there would be two more, period, and deemed her inoperable), Dr. T., who felt that DIL was operable, recommended they go to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo got them in right away and believed she was operable, but first, because it looked as if her liver was diseased, the docs went in and did a liver resection, where they moved some big vein or artery - my medical vocabulary is challenged - from the right side of her liver to the left. The liver increased in size by 20-30% which was the goal.

After more chemos, she went in for the debulking. Doctors removed ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, uterus, and a grapefruit sized mass from her diaphragm. Seeing what the doctors sensed as trouble, they told her they would schedule a 'look-see' for her lungs at a later date. She has a scar from her sternum to her pelvic bone. And of course, she began more chemos.

She lost all of her hair, bought two wigs, and quickly decided they were hot. She prefers to wear a scarf and hoop earrings and looks quite exotic.

After effects from the chemo put her down & out for about 4-5 days, and each chemo seems to be worse than the last. Dr. T. tells her the chemo is cumulative, and that each session will probably be worse then the last.

Son and DIL went back to The Mayo 11/11, and the doctors admitted her on 11/12. The thoracic surgeon went in and did was is called a pleurectomy as well as removing several malignant lymph nodes. The surgeon had told her that the pain from this surgery would be worse than the debulking, and she was in a state of disbelief - until after the surgery. She asked if the surgeon was really going to break her ribs. He said no, he'd 'cut' them.....  She has suffered a great deal of pain and hates to take painkillers since they make her nauseous and constipated. But she hurts badly, so she takes them. She has an incision from her right lower shoulder blade down to and wrapping around her rib cage.

DIL came home 11/18. What a fighter she is. But now, she feels sad, depressed, tired, and probably a bit overcome. When I spoke w/her she sounded very much on the edge of tears.  On 11/14, it has been 6 months. The docs say four more chemos. And she's calling Dr. T. to see if she can start on Monday the 23rd.

Their children are young. The daughter turned 8 last week, and the son will be 6 in January.

I admit to feeling sad and depressed myself. After reading what each of you ladies are going through or have gone through, I just don'e see a really bright future, and that makes me so, so sad.

Meanwhile, her CaringBridge site has almost 40,000 hits. The community organized and put on a fund-raiser. The Mayo doesn't contract w/their insurance company, so they'll be responsible for 25% of the cost.... The fund-raiser was quite a success and raised almost six figures.

People ask us all, "How are you doing?" I don't know what to say. Inside, we're doing terrible. Outside, we just keep doing what we ought to do, putting one foot in front of the other. Going to work, watching the kids play soccer - wait - now it's basketball.

Son & DIL are blessed because they have sooooo many loving friends and family. Folks even set up a calendar on the CaringBridge site, and people sign up to bring them dinner and fruits and vegetables almost daily. We are a faithful family, pray unceasingly, and hope God blesses us with his divine Mercy.

Meanwhile, we keep on keeping on.

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by bohan54, Nov 20, 2009
This is just heartbreaking.  Assure her that her children will be well cared for, hold her hand, cry with her and make sure she takes those pain meds.  If they make her uncomfortable, the docs need to find another type.  Pain control is THE main goal.

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by lvfrogs, Nov 20, 2009
Your journal entry is very hard to read. I can't begin to imagine how hard it is to write.  Have you told your DIL about this site? Maybe she would find some comfort in talking with the other women on here?  I am glad that she has so many loving friends that are stepping up and helping her. That must bring you some sense of peace I hope. I will keep all of you in my prayers.

Avatar universal
by abrite, Nov 20, 2009
Ugh, this disease takes so much out of everyone...physically and emotionally. I agree with what the others have written. I also want to suggest the possibility of an antidepressant. Many folks on chemo, have a depletion of the "feel good" neurotransmitters as a result of med, surgery, pain etc. Sometimes antidepressants in combination with pain medication also offer better pain relief. Just a thought.......Do take care.

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by TrudieC, Nov 20, 2009
I feel for you and your family as you go through such a hard time.  I didn't have ovarian cancer but did have a life threatening health issue and know how hard it can be to mother your children as you go through this.  Yes, anti-depressants can be a lifesaver.  The physical and emotional stress she is going through can definitely trigger a depression.  She needs to do all she can to keep her spirits up.  What a wonderful family and community she has to support her.

Avatar universal
by Katie116, Nov 23, 2009
DIL went to Dr. T 11/20. He had visited w/thoracic surgeon at Mayo, and they determined that the chemo wasn't doing all it should be. She has been on carboplatin/taxol, but beginning Nov. 30, they will begin w/carboplatin/gem? I know that term, but it won't come to me. You will all know it. What is your experience w/that combination? She will do chemo every two weeks for six weeks. Then what, I wonder? It upset her very much to find out that the chemo hadn't been working that well. She asked Dr. T. how well it had worked, and he said medium.

I stopped by the house yesterday. She is walking around quite gingerly. I think I will talk w/her about anti-depressants. I don't know if she's on them or not. They have been a life-saver for me for many years. Anyway, I cleaned out the refrigerator, did a load of laundry, made the kids nachos, un- and reloaded the dishwasher.

DIL told me that Friday some of her daughter's classmates out on the playground were saying things like, "Your Mom is bald! She has no hair. She has cancer!" The teacher told those children that was inappropriate behavior and if it happened again, she would suspend them. DIL said if they want to do that to me, fine. But not to my children. And her voice was cracking. She said that after all she'd been through, "If I live, it will have been worth it. And if I don't,. . . . then I'm gonna' be really mad."

Avatar universal
by shewrites, Nov 23, 2009
I'm so sorry you're all going through this.  

Giving practical help -- household chores, babysitting, etc. -- is a good thing for her and for you.  Telling her about your experience with anti-depressants could be good, too.  She might need a support group or someone professional to talk with as well.  I was pretty sensitive when I was going through chemo, but you obviously care about her, so I'm sure you'll get it right.  

I think your granddaughter's classmates are terrified that cancer will happen to their parents as well.  They've been told something, obviously, and have made the leap.  That doesn't excuse their ragging on her, but I think the teacher needs to talk about those fears with those kids.  Your grandkids may need a support group, too, come to think of it.  

Good luck, and keep in touch

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