Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cancer Sucks!

Well Nancy is my mother that passed 3 years ago in December! She was my everything..Here is the story about the day I found out she was dying and the 8 weeks that followed before her death..

I had a family friend stop by my house late one night to drink a beer and talk. He was concerned about my mom Nancy. He told me that my dad had taken her to the Dr. that day because her work contacted my dad threatening to terminate her. She was slacking off and having problems focusing on important tasks. She was a Human resource manager for 40 years. This was completely out of character for my mother. I was scared and confused why my dad would not inform me of such a serious issue. Jeremy my friend told me that the Dr. diagnosed her with a sinus infection wrote her medication and sent her home. I jumped on the internet and started entering in her symptoms... I know hypochondria right?
My grandparents which are on my moms side got Alzheimer's at a fairly young age 63. So my mind went into the thought of this horrible disease. I found the Alzheimer support group had a 24/7 answering service so I called at midnight telling them about how my mom was acting etc. The lady on the phone said No Alzheimer does not progress as quickly as your description. I would take her to a ER soon it could possibly be a tumor, or something wrong with her brain . I  had trouble sleeping and prayed hit my knees and asked God to reveal her sickness.

The next day I woke up and headed to the Salon I had no choice but to work from 8am till 12pm. My dad owns the Barber shop next door to my salon and I confronted him that morning! I was angry with him for not involving me in my mothers problem. He was in complete denial and said he had a appointment next Monday with a new Dr. for further testing. That was not good enough! I asked him where is Mom? His answer was at home on the couch. I said did you leave her keys with her? He said yes why? Ummm gee dad I don't know she is not acting herself, she has been confused and saying random weird remarks. Do you think someone in that condition should have access to keys?... Oh I didn't think about that! Holy shit... MEN. I called my mom right then and asked hey what are you doing? She said oh just piddling around, I feel weird and foggy. Not sure what fogy meant, but I told her relax watch some TV I get off at 12 I will come pick you up and we can go eat lunch. She said OK and that was that. I wanted to hang out with her and see exactly what was going on.

I got off at 12 and called her. When she answered she told me she was headed into work! WHAT! So I turned around on the highway and headed straight for her job. I saw her car in the parking lot and felt relief. As soon as entered the building her manager, boss, and assistant all confronted me and pulled me into a office. They explained there concerns for my moms mental health and told me everything that had been going on for months that no one knew about because she is at work more than home. I was shocked and scared I didn't know what to do! I called my dad and my moms best friend asked them if I should take her to the ER. They both yelled at me and said NO we have this under control. I sat there helpless I knew in my heart and soul something was way wrong.

I went to my moms office sat down with Blaine 3 years at the time and said Mom do you want to go see another Dr. She said yes I know something is wrong I just dont know what! I said ok come with me and lets get in the car. As Blaine,my mom and I were walking to my car. My mom started to shuffle her left leg. I though it was strange and she was very slow. We got into the car and I headed to Dallas ER. When we arrived I checked her in and the nurse took one look at her, she flashed a light in her eyes! The nurse looked at me said we need her in Trauma now! WTF? Are you serious for what. The nurse explained her pupils were not adjusting correctly and it could be a sign her brain was swelling. At this point only person that knew we were at the ER was my mom and I.

They took her back for scans within 15 minutes. I waited not knowing what to do or if I should call my dad cause he told me not to take her. I called Richie Blaines father and told him to please come get Blaine from the ER. Blaine was 3 and he was board waiting so I gave him my camera to play with. My mom came back from scans and she seemed out of it. Not herself mean yelling at me and Blaine got frustrated with nurses very rude and had a nasty mouth on her. Not my sweet mother I mean she could be a bitch when need be, but not for no reason. I tried to calm her and at 4pm I decided I had to let my dad know where we were. I called him at work and said come to the ER when you get off I have mom here. He flipped out screaming bitching about the ER bill etc. I told him I will pay it just shut up and get here.

He showed up at 6pm. He made fun of us asking if we were having fun yet and bets we are hungry etc. My dad is full of funnies. That is how he deals with pain or denial he jokes. Then my mom looked down at her arm band and she looked up confused. My dad said Nancy...She responded with is that my name? My dad busted out laughing good one, haha you got me. I knew right then something was terribly wrong. She was serious and when my dad finally realized he lost it. I ran down the hall to find a nurse and ran into the Dr. He had films in his hands and I told him she doesnt know who she is in a matter of minutes. Please Help her!... He advised me to go back to the room and we walked in together. He looked right at us and said Nancy you have a Brain tumor the size of a grapefruit located in your frontal sinus!

My first thought oh thank God he knows whats wrong, second thought cancer ok cool Chemo, radiation a year or so and were good, then I said Im going outside to call family and let them know. I called her sister, cousins etc told everyone what they found. I went back inside and a group of 10 plus Dr.s were having my dad sign paperwork etc. The brain Dr said this is the most aggressive tumor and the only one not able to be cured. We need to get her in surgery ASAP to get the swelling off her brain and get steroids in her system.

I stood there in complete shock! Then the Dr. said she has a year tops....

My mom was rushed into brain surgery she had no idea what was going on she was not herself. It was so hard to watch the woman I loved and the woman that was so strong and smart, not acting like herself. I was terrified she would go in not knowing us and come out even worse, but I had to pray and leave her will in Gods hands. Hours went by and the Dr. came to talk to us. He said they removed everything possible but that the tumor was so big that they left a lot behind because the risk of removing too much brain. When she woke up she was my mother again. She knew who she was and who we were! I felt so much relief. She stayed in the hospital for a few days then sent home.

My mom was the primary bread winner and my dad was self employed barber. He charged $12 a cut and worked his ass off for a small check. Our family and friends rallied, brought my parents dinner, money etc took turns staying with my mom at home while my dad was at work. I had only owned my shop for 1 year and I knew when we found out she had a year to live, I was going to spend every second with her. I started cancelling appointments to hangout with her during the day so my dad could work full time and keep there house. The first day of caring for my mom... I took my kids to school and went to there house my mom was in bed and requested eggs, so I went to the kitchen and made them with a cold glass of milk, I felt pride in making mom breakfast. I honestly think that was the first time as a adult I cooked for her. I took her food and sat in bed  with her watching TV. I wanted to ask her how she felt about her cancer, and if she even remembered the Dr telling her she had a year to live. Instead I sat there and held her hand I had no idea how to bring the subject up. I went into the living room to cry, cause I didn't want to scare my mom or make her feel uncomfortable. I had yet to see her cry over this. I sat in the living room and put my head on a pillow I guess I dosed off and I heard a loud bang. I jumped up and ran to the sound. My mom had attempted to put her plate of food up on her own and her legs stopped working! She hit hard and I tried to help her up and she yelled at me! Leave me alone I'm fine, I can get up on my own I'm not crippled! I stood at the door way and watched her struggle as her legs were paralyzed. Again I had no idea what to do! It was so hard to watch my mother struggle when two days before she was at work and a normal functioning person, now she has 1 year to live and cant even walk. How does this happen? Why is this happening to my family to such a good person? I was angry and upset.. Finally after 10 minutes of her attempting to get feeling she gave up and let me get her in her wheel chair. My heart broke for her. I know that had to be hard to accept and from then on out she was angry and mad for several weeks.

We saw a Chemo Dr. I know they have a name, but I didnt like this woman so I wont giver her a title! She made us wait for hours to see her and my mom got frustrated and had me wheel her out to smoke a cigarette . It was a non smoking campus and she lit up right as we walked out the doors. A security guard told my mom no smoking and she looked right at him and said "I'm dying soon and you can fuck off!" Well that was the first time I heard her curse at a stranger and the first time I heard her admit out loud she knew what was going on with her health. We went back into the office and they called her name. This Dr. claimed there was some new Chemo pill that was FDA approved and would cure my mothers stage 4 Glioblastoma Tumor! My mom wheeled out of the office int he middle of this Dr's lies. We went in the hall way and cried held each other and my mom said "Holly what do I do?" I told her mom whatever you want, If you want to fight this go for it! I'm here to support you no matter what decision you make. If all the Dr's claim your dying then what do you have to loose by trying this drug? She started radiation treatments and Chemo pills daily and IV chemo every 2 weeks. It was not 4 weeks into treatment and I received a call from my dad at 7:00 a.m. a Sunday morning Holly I need you to get to the hospital soon. I had no idea what was going on. I walked into the room and my mom was sitting up in the bed with a pan under her nose, her shirt was soaked in blood and her nose was leaking everywhere! I thought OMG I started crying hysterically and freaking out asking questions just honestly acting like a fool. My mom yelled at the top of her lungs STOP IT! You stop it right now! I froze in complete disbelief. She snapped me out of my panic. She started bawling and telling me I'm scared right now and I know I'm dying, please stop crying and freaking out! I need you to be strong for me Holly keep me calm. I stopped I wiped my tears sucked up my emotions and put my big girl panties on! I never cried again! The nurse was horrible a shoved packing into her nose without warning! No bedside manners my trust in Dr, nurses and staff went out the window after my mothers last week of life inside that hospital.

They got her stable and we found out her white blood count was so low they had to do transfusions everyday bags and bags of blood. The count never changed and if it did it was only a few points nothing promising! The Chemo did its job it was killing her slowly. Then one morning the nurses came to take my mother down stairs to see a ENT to remove and change the packing in her nose. They sat her up and she slumped over non responsive! MOM MOM I screamed hitting her hand her face trying to get a response. Slowly she came to. The two nurses just sat there! They did not check her vitals they did not call for back up, and they could not answer me as to what just happened! They said she must be tired! My mom never spoke a word after that moment! I never heard her voice again! There was no more communication verbally. The nurses attempted to transport my mom after this downstairs in a wheel chair. I told them your not moving her anywhere and not in a chair with no seat belt what if she does this again and falls out! So they called the ENT downstairs and asked if her bed would fit in the office, he said "no she must come in a wheel chair." I told the nurses NO why cant he come up here and see her? They asked the Dr to come to her room and change the packing, he said" no I'm too busy and I'm doing her a favor by fitting her in." So I warned the nurses if she falls or gets hurt I will hire a attorney. My dad asked me not to go with my mom to the appointment, because seeing all that blood and her discomfort would only upset me. Again my instincts told me No stay with her something is wrong. My sister(not blood but raised together/best friend) and I went with her downstairs BTW they used a bed sheet to tie my moms waist to the chair so she would not fall out! This was my first experience with hospitals and cancer. I trusted the Dr's Nurses and staff we made it downstairs to the office. The nurse that transported my mom forgot my moms chart so she left my sister and I with my mom to run upstairs and get it. The Dr called her back. He started asking her questions and she didn't respond she just looked at me to answer them and so I did. I thought it was strange she was not talking and continued to question the Dr. I told him something is wrong she was just talking a hour ago and its like she cant. He dismissed my concerns and said I'm just a ENT my job here is to care for her nose. Let her nurses know when you get back upstairs. Then he asked my sister and I to get her into his office chair. Her legs were no longer working. I told this Dr NO I cant lift her, get your staff to move her. He argued with me and said I need her in my chair it will benefit her better so I can work on her properly. He also said his staff was not capable of moving her either. Again TRUST and DR'S know best! So my sister and I got her in his chair. He did what needed to be done and told us we were free to leave. Meantime my mothers nurse never showed back up with her chart. This Dr left my sister and I in the room with my dying mother alone to move her and he answered a phone call down the hall with his back turned to our room. I looked at my mom and said are you ready we are going to pick you up and move you. She nodded her head. 1,2,3 we lifted and my mom went down! She hit the ground with force. I screamed and his staff came running in all women that weighted 100lbs each soaking wet. Trying to get her up and that FUCKING DR. excuse me but I was pissed looked back and continued his conversation on the phone like he had no clue what was going on. My mom was paralyzed suddenly she could not even hold her back straight she was like jelly. Her gown was open int he back and her privates were hanging out! I grabbed her sat behind her with my legs wrapped around her waist to hold her up! I was screaming SOMEONE PLEASE HELP HER! My mom did not say a word, but tears were pouring down her face! I told my sister "Go out in the hall and grab the biggest men you can find to help us." She came back with a huge man and he tried for several minutes to lift my mom enough to get her in her chair. Finally he did and I wheeled my out. Lord only knows what I said to that DR and his staff...

I call this all HELL Breaks loose.... I demanded my sister take my mom upstairs and I went straight to the patient center to speak with someone. I told her she better get the head nurse of her floor and the other two that were responsible for my mom in a meeting in 10 minutes or I was calling every local news station , personal injury lawyers etc. I got up stairs and they called me into the meeting. I can not begin to explain the amount of emotions running through my body it was electric. They admitted there wrongs, set new rules fired the two nurses that left her unattended in front of me. From that moment on only the charge nurse touched my mother! It was her full time job...The next day they found a stroke on her CT. That explained her not talking, her not able to walk etc. She stopped eating, her blood count got worse and two days later my Dad pulled my to the side asked me to go home pick out the outfit I wanted her buried in, jewelry and write her obituary. Now I was adopted I'm the only child this was something I had to do alone! I kissed my mom left and did as my dad directed me to. I walked into there house into her closet and fell to the ground.... I screamed pulled some hair out, begged God to stop this! Save her she is my mother I need her I'm only 23 years old I have small kids that need there grandmother. My mom and dad have known each other since #rd grade. They were high school sweet hearts married 40 years. He will die without her... I remember that day I freaked out in front of my mom and her telling me to stop it. So I sucked it up found her clothes, makeup bag wrote a short obituary and grabbed a bottle of my dads jack daniels! I drank a 5th on the way back to the hospital. When I got there I was wasted and my dad could tell. He asked me if I wanted to go home and rest tonight is the night and he will not think less of me if I can not handle watching her die. I got mad at him! You do not know that! Your not GOD... she will be ok and alive when I come back in the morning. I hugged my mom and kissed her forehead I whispered in her ear "Its ok if your tired, its ok to give up. I will be ok you raised me right and to be a strong woman and a good mother. I know now how important a mothers role is to her children." "Please mom know that I will take care of dad." she rolled her eyes and nodded her head. I left and at 3 a.m. my phone rang. I shot up and looked it was my dad! I knew I knew right then what this call was about. I answered the phone and he was crying so hard I could not understand him. I did not need to understand his words. His cries were full of pain and loneliness. Shes GONE she is GONE Holly please hurry. I grabbed my keys and ran to my car. I looked up at the stars and God. My first thought was my Mom walking into the light and seeing her parents for the first time in 10 plus years hugging them. She had a smile on her face and was not concerned with her death, our heartache and tears. She was at peace and with her loved ones again. I got to the hospital walked through the doors and my dad was outside the room curled up on the floor holding his knees crying! I have never in my life seen my father cry. I held him and knowing my pain, I could only imagine his pain had to be 100 times worse. He grabbed my hand and took me into the room. Her eyes were still open and her mouth was wide open. She had gasped for her last breath. She had her glasses clutched in her hands. My dad told me to kiss her and hold her hands now while they were still warm. Soon she will become stiff and it will be too late. It will never feel the same again. Oh how right he was. I was scared of her! It was not her only her body, her soul was gone off to a better place. I touched her shortly and walked out. I could not handle it.

It has been 3 years and the wounds will never heal fully, but time passes and it gets easier to forget all the bad and hold on to all the good memories I have of my mother. I learned priceless lessons through this battle that many have never faced. I know now that I can demand new Dr's, request different nurses if I do not feel a loved one is getting proper care, I have a voice! That is the most powerful lesson learned. I do not accept one answer I research options and other advice. I listen to others, hear there experiences and try to make educated decisions. I hate cancer but some win and some loose. That is life and the sooner you can accept that we all live and die, not matter who or what takes us out. We are all on our way. Let go of the hate, anger and pain it will only hold you hostage! You have to live in the moment not in the past and not in the future. Take one day at a time and make sure you let your loved ones know each day how special they are. 

Cancer SUCKS!


  1. Bless your heart. That must have been difficult to write, but I hope getting it all down on virtual paper helps with the healing process.

  2. Bethany I love you! Yes it was hard to write, but it does help and I hope someone reads this that might have the same experience and not feel so alone. How are you?

  3. Hi! I just started reading and following you in IG. Of course heard about you from Mama L :)

    This story breaks my heart. I graduate from nursing school in a few weeks and it blows my mind anytime I hear stories like this. Hearing your mom's symptoms and the situation, I had a million things going through my head about what I would do in that situation and then to read what the nurses actually did was insane to me. I'm so sorry that was your experience. But thank you for sharing. It'll be a reminder to me when working with patients and familys.