Dying is a lonely journey. Not only for the sick person but also for the family. As hard as we may try to avoid death, the truth is that we do a lousy job of it. Science and medicine will certainly postpone it, even staying healthy might seem to delay it, but the harsh reality is that death does not wait for you, it does not ask you, and it does not listen to you. Death ignores your feelings and wants; you do not matter to death…Death is the only certainty in life! We need to remember that our existence here is fragile, and we never have as much time with people as we think we do. If there is someone or someones out there that you love, don’t neglect that and don’t put off engaging with them because waits for no-one… Vic's Journey ended on 18 January 2013 at 10:35. She was the most courageous person in the world and has inspired thousands of people all over the world. Vic's two boys are monuments of her existence. She was an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend. I will miss you today, tomorrow and forever my Angle Child.
I often wondered exactly what went through Vic’s mind in the final months of her life when she felt death sneaking up on her. I know she was scared and lonely; she was heartbroken knowing that her boys would grow up without her….I am not stupid. I know that Vic did not share all her fears and thoughts with me. She was trying to protect me.
Today I read a bittersweet post. I wept when I read the words. It was as if I heard Vic’s voice…felt her fear…
June 4, 2013 by sugarmagzz | 6 CommentsIt happens from time to time, I get a glimpse of my “old” life and for a fleeting second forget that I am dying of cancer. These moments are simultaneously wonderful and devastating. I might be out with a friend for lunch, pumping gas into my car, shopping for Owen, or doing dishes at my kitchen sink. It’s always random and for that brief moment I feel free, as though I’m flying and nothing is tethering me down. I feel like I did before, able to live my life without a shadow cast overhead. It doesn’t last very long because reality always comes crashing down, dragging me with it in its vice-like grip. In this moment of clarity — when it all comes rushing back to me — I can’t breathe. I’m ten again and I’ve fallen flat on my back off the trampoline — immobile, breathless, terrified. This time there is no ground to break my fall, and so I’m left to kick and scream in mid-air with no one to hear me, no one to catch me. Alone and falling, falling so fast — past the memories that were supposed to one day be mine. I reach out to touch them and slide my fingers over their sparkling surface…The look on Owen’s face when he sees Disney World for the first time.The birth of our second child, to see again Andrew’s incredible capacity for the patience and self-sacrifice of fatherhood.Owen’s high school and college graduation ceremonies, his wedding.Ashlei’s wedding, the birth of her children, becoming an Aunt.Retirement — relaxing on the dock looking out over the lake with him, my partner in life…reminiscing about the early days and arguing over chores, still.Grandchildren.I will not see these momentous occasions, they will occur without my physical presence. I hope that there is more to this life, and that I can be there in some way, spirit or otherwise. I hope that my loved ones will always feel me near as they celebrate those unforgettable moments that life has to offer, but my sorrow at missing out on them is endless. I am so very grateful for the incredible moments I have been blessed to experience and I will hold them close until the end. When my time comes, I will take my last breath knowing that my time here was extraordinary, that during my brief existence I lived and loved as greatly as I could. I know there will be more wonderful memories to make before this happens, but everything for me is tinged with darkness — all of the good moments are bittersweet. Still I fight for them, even though they are broken and imperfect. They may not be the memories I thought they would be, but they will still be special.
Tonight I am doubting myself again. I wonder – did I comfort my child enough? Why was this precious child of mine condemned to a life of horrible pain and suffering? She never truly lived! Why did she die and bad people continue to live and prosper? Why was she deprived of a future??? She was such a good person!!!!!
I want to hold her and protect her. I want to tell her how much I love her. That she is the best thing that ever happened to me. That my life is empty without her. That I understood her fears.
I am posting two interesting articles. These are not medical opinions. The first on fruit I reposted this from an email that I received. The originator is apparently a Dr Stephen Mak who makes wild claims of curing 80% of all cancers with a fruit diet. I don’t believe that at all. But that is my personal opinion. I love fruit and could quite honestly live on fruit. I did find it interesting that one should only eat fruit on an empty stomach.
I know that grated apple and celery on an empty stomach is a 100% cure for constipation.
We all think eating fruits means just buying fruits, cutting it and just popping it into our mouths. It’s not as easy as you think. It’s important to know how and when to eat.
What is the correct way of eating fruits?
IT MEANS NOT EATING FRUITS AFTER YOUR MEALS! * FRUITS SHOULD BE EATEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH. If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.
FRUIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FOOD. Let’s say you eat two slices of bread and then a slice of fruit. The slice of fruit is ready to go straight through the stomach into the intestines, but it is prevented from doing so. In the meantime the whole meal rots and ferments and turns to acid. The minute the fruit comes into contact with the food in the stomach and digestive juices, the entire mass of food begins to spoil….
So please eat your fruits on an empty stomach or before your meals! You have heard people complaining — every time I eat watermelon I burp, when I eat durian my stomach bloats up, when I eat a banana I feel like running to the toilet, etc — actually all this will not arise if you eat the fruit on an empty stomach. The fruit mixes with the putrefying other food and produces gas and hence you will bloat!
Graying hair, balding, nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes all these will NOT happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach.
There is no such thing as some fruits, like orange and lemon are acidic, because all fruits become alkaline in our body, according to Dr. Herbert Shelton who did research on this matter. If you have mastered the correct way of eating fruits, you have the SECRET of beauty, longevity, health, energy, happiness and normal weight.
When you need to drink fruit juice – drink only fresh fruit juice, NOT from the cans. Don’t even drink juice that has been heated up. Don’t eat cooked fruits because you don’t get the nutrients at all. You only get to taste. Cooking destroys all the vitamins.
But eating a whole fruit is better than drinking the juice. If you should drink the juice, drink it mouthful by mouthful slowly, because you must let it mix with your saliva before swallowing it. You can go on a 3-day fruit fast to cleanse your body. Just eat fruits and drink fruit juice throughout the 3 days and you will be surprised when your friends tell you how radiant you look!
KIWI: Tiny but mighty. This is a good source of POTASIUM, MAGNESIUM, VITAMIN E & FIBER. Its VITAMIN C content is twice that of an orange.
APPLE: An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Although an apple has a low VITAMIN C content, it has antioxidants & flavonoids which enhances the activity of VITAMIN C thereby helping to lower the risks of colon cancer, heart attack & stroke.
STRAWBERRY: Protective Fruit. Strawberries have the highest total antioxidant power among major fruits & protect the body from cancer-causing, blood vessel-clogging free radicals.
ORANGE: Sweetest medicine. Taking 2-4 oranges a day may help keep colds away, lower cholesterol, prevent & dissolve kidney stones as well as lessens the risk of colon cancer.
WATERMELON: Coolest thirst quencher. Composed of 92% water, it is also packed with a giant dose of glutathione, which helps boost our immune system. They are also a key source of lycopene — the cancer fighting oxidant. Other nutrients found in watermelon are VITAMIN C & POTASIUM.
GUAVA & PAPAYA: Top awards for vitamin C. They are the clear winners for their high VITAMIN C content… Guava is also rich in FIBER, which helps prevent constipation. PAPAYA is rich in CAROTENE; this is good for your eyes.
Drinking Cold water after a meal = CANCER! Can u believe this???? For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink (water or juice) after and/or during a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this ‘sludge’ reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.
A serious note about heart attacks…….. HEART ATTACK PROCEDURE’: (THIS IS NOT A JOKE!) Women should know that not every heart attack symptom is going to be the left arm hurting. Be aware of intense pain in the jaw line. You may never have the first chest pain during the course of a heart attack. Nausea and intense sweating are also common symptoms. Sixty percent of people who have a heart attack while they are asleep do not wake up. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let’s be careful and be aware. The more we know the better chance we could survive.
The 1 minute stroke test – By Peggy PeckWebMD Health News
Feb. 13, 2003 (Phoenix) — A team of stroke researchers has devised a one-minute test that can be used by ordinary people to diagnose stroke — and the test is so simple that even a child can use it. Such an easy, quick test could potentially save thousands of stroke sufferers from the disabling effects by allowing faster treatment.
“It is just three simple steps” says Jane Brice, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Brice tells WebMD that the test is based on a scale developed by researchers at the University of Cincinnati. The three-part test, called the Cincinnati Pre-Hospital Stroke Scale (CPSS), can be used to diagnose most strokes, says Brice.
Brice and her colleagues measured the accuracy of the test by first teaching it to 100 healthy bystanders. The bystanders then performed the test on stroke survivors. To diagnose a stroke, the bystanders performed the following three steps:
1. Bystander told the patients, “Show me your teeth.” The “smile test” is used to check for one-sided facial weakness — a classic sign of stroke.
2. Then the patients were told to close their eyes and raise their arms. Stroke patients usually cannot raise both arms to the same height, a sign of arm weakness.
3. Finally, the patients were asked to repeat a simple sentence to check for slurring of speech, which is another classic sign of stroke. “In Cincinnati, the researchers asked patients to say, ‘The sky is blue in Cincinnati,'” says Brice. But in the study, the researchers varied four simple phrases such as “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”
Overall, 97% of the bystanders were able to accurately follow the directions for giving the test, says Amy S. Hurwitz, a medical student at UNC who helped design the study.
The bystanders were 96% accurate at detecting speech problems and 97% accurate at spotting one-sided arm weakness. They were less accurate at detecting facial weakness — with only a 72% accuracy rate for this test. But Hurwitz says, “It is difficult to detect differences in the smile of a stranger. We are hoping that in most cases the ‘bystander’ will actually be someone who knows the patient and so an unusual smile will be apparent.”
A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail, sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we’ll save at least one life.
The downward pain spiral has already begun. Vic is quite swollen and had a bad day. This afternoon late she perked up and has only had one vomiting spell tonight.
As Sr Siza was examining her this afternoon and taking her vitals I remarked on the swelling. “It’s the organs shutting down” she whispered….
“I am scared Siza. I administer such massive dosages of medication to Vic… What if I kill her?” I asked over a cup of tea.
“Don’t worry my love. You won’t. There is no upper limit to the amount of morphine that Vicky can go on… As long as we titrate the dosages she will be fine.”
So I Googled Morphine+dosage+death and one of the first articles that came up (and I could understand) is “When Morphine Fails to Kill” By GINA KOLATA
Proponents of assisted suicide often argue that when a doctor helps a patient who wants to die, it is no more ethically troubling than when a doctor kills a patient slowly with morphine, often without the patient’s knowledge or consent, a medical practice these proponents say is increasingly common.
So why forbid doctors to prescribe lethal pills that could allow patients to control how and when they die? There is no question that doctors use morphine this way. “It happens all the time,” said Dr. John M. Luce, a professor of medicine and anesthesiology at the University of California in San Francisco. And there is no question that most doctors think that morphine can hasten a patient’s death by depressing respiration. But Luce and others are asking whether morphine and similar drugs really speed death.
Experts in palliative care say the only available evidence indicates that morphine is not having this effect. Dr. Balfour Mount, a cancer specialist who directs the division of palliative care at McGill University in Montreal, firmly states that it is “a common misunderstanding that patients die because of high doses of morphine needed to control pain.”
No one denies that an overdose of morphine can be lethal. It kills by stopping breathing. But, said Dr. Joanne Lynn, director of the Center to Improve Care of the Dying at George Washington University School of Medicine, something peculiar happens when doctors gradually increase a patient’s dose of morphine. The patients, she said, become more tolerant of the drug’s effect on respiration than they do of its effect on pain. The result, Dr. Lynn said, is that as patients’ pain gets worse, they require more and more morphine to control it. But even though they end up taking doses of the drug that would quickly kill a person who has not been taking morphine, the drug has little effect on these patients’ breathing.
Dr. Kathleen Foley, who is co-chief of the pain and palliative care service at Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center in New York, said that she routinely saw patients taking breathtakingly high doses of morphine yet breathing well. “They’re taking 1,000 milligrams of morphine a day, or 2,000 milligrams a day, and walking around,” she said.
The standard daily dose used to quell the pain of cancer patients, she added, is 200 to 400 milligrams. Dr. Lynn said she sometimes gave such high doses of morphine or similar drugs that she frightened herself. She remembers one man who had a tumor on his neck as big as his head. To relieve his pain, she ended up giving him 200 milligrams of a morphinelike drug, hydromorphone, each hour, 200 times the dose that would put a person with no tolerance to the drug into a deep sleep. “Even I was scared,” Dr. Lynn said, but she found that if she lowered the dose to even 170 milligrams of the drug per hour, the man was in excruciating pain. So to protect herself in case she was ever questioned by a district attorney, she said, she videotaped the man playing with his grandson while he was on the drug.
On rare occasions, Dr. Lynn said, she became worried when she escalated a morphine dose and noticed that the patient had started to struggle to breathe. Since she did not intend to kill the patient, she said, she administered an antidote. But invariably, she said, she found that the drug was not causing the patient’s sudden respiratory problem.
One man, for example, was having trouble breathing because he had bled from a tumor in his brain, and an elderly woman had just had a stroke. “In every single case, there was another etiology,” Dr. Lynn said. “Joanne’s experience is emblematic,” said Dr. Russell K. Portenoy, the other cochief of the pain and palliative care service at Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center.
He said he was virtually certain that if doctors ever gave antidotes to morphine on a routine basis when dying patients started laboring to breathe, they would find that Dr. Lynn’s experience was the rule. Patients generally die from their diseases, not from morphine, Dr. Portenoy said.
The actual data on how often morphine and other opiates that are used for pain relief cause death are elusive. But Dr. Foley and others cite three studies that indirectly support the notion that if morphine causes death, it does so very infrequently. One study, by Dr. Frank K. Brescia of Calvary Hospital in the Bronx and his colleagues, examined pain, opiate use and survival among 1,103 cancer patients at that hospital, which is for the terminally ill. The patients had cancer that was “very far advanced,” said Dr. Portenoy, an author of the paper. But to his surprise, he said, the investigators found no relationship between the dose of opiates a patient received and the time it took to die. Those receiving stunningly high doses died no sooner than those taking much lower doses.
Another study, by Dr. Luce and his colleagues in San Francisco, looked at 44 patients in intensive care units at two hospitals who were so ill that their doctors and families decided to withdraw life support. Three quarters of the patients were taking narcotics, and after the decision was made to let them die, the doctors increased their narcotics dose. Those who were not receiving opiates were in comas or so severely brain damaged that they did not feel pain. The researchers asked the patients’ doctors to tell them, anonymously, why they had given narcotics to the patients and why they had increased the doses. Thirty nine (39%) percent of the doctors confided that, in addition to relieving pain, they were hoping to hasten the patients’ deaths. But that did not seem to happen.
The patients who received narcotics survived an average of 3 1/2 hours after the decision had been made to let them die. Those who did not receive narcotics lived an average of 1 1/2 hours. Of course, Dr. Luce said, the study was not definitive because the patients who did not receive drugs may have been sicker and more likely to die very quickly. Nonetheless, he said, the investigators certainly failed to show that narcotics speeded death.
Dr. Declan Walsh, the director of the Center for Palliative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said it had been 15 years since he first questioned the assumption that morphine used for pain control killed patients by depressing their respiration. He was working in England at the time, and many doctors there were afraid to prescribe morphine or similar drugs for cancer patients, Walsh said, because “they were afraid they would kill the patients.”
So Walsh looked at carbon dioxide levels in the blood of cancer patients on high doses of morphine to control their pain. If their breathing was suppressed, their carbon dioxide levels should have been high. But they were not. Nonetheless, Walsh said, the idea that morphine used for pain relief depresses respiration is widely believed by doctors and nurses because it is “drummed into them in medical school.” So, said Dr. Susan Block, a psychiatrist in the hematology and oncology division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, it is not surprising that many doctors try to use morphine to speed dying. “There is more and more evidence most of it unpublished, but it’s coming, I’ve seen it that physicians, in addition to wanting to ease patients’ discomfort, also want to hasten death,” Dr. Block said. “Everyone is feeling guilty.”
This weekend I again realized that there are people who are going through worse hardships than we are….
Tom, our son-in-law is a lovely, warm and hospitable man. He has made a huge difference in our lives. He is brutally honest as an individual. He has embraced the family and fulfils his role within the family with enthusiasm. Tom is bright – very bright! As a computer nerd he lives on STRONG coffee. He loves playing cricket with the boys.
He is Lani’s soul mate and a wonderful back-up father for the girls.
A couple of months before Tom and Lani got married Tom’s dad died from a heart attack. A year ago Tom’s sister was travelling from Cape Town with her Mom. Tom’s mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had her first chemo treatment that morning. A tragic accident…a car landed on top of theirs and Tom’s sister was killed. His Mom was seriously injured. Her accident injuries healed in time.
This weekend Tom travelled to Cape Town to say goodbye to his Mom… She is dying. Today my dear son-in-law had to sit next to his mom’s bed and speak his final words with her. In my heart I can see him standing in the door of her room and looking back one final time….It is extremely unlikely that he will see her again…. What thoughts went through his Mom’s mind? What did she see? Did she see her adult son she must be so proud of or did she see her little boy playing in the sand?
I kept thinking how unbelievable privileged we are. We are able to be with Vic every day, every second of the day if we chose… There is no need for cramming in “final words”. Every day we have new words, reassuring words, words of love and support. I cannot imagine having to get up from Vic’s bed, saying goodbye and having to walk away!
Tomorrow morning Tom will wake up; go to work…his thoughts will be filled with thoughts of his mom. How many times an hour will his mind turn to his mom and her final journey?
I am reblogging this amazing post. It is the sad and poignant blog of a young woman who is terminally ill. This is her story.
Lots of Tears With Less Than a Few Months to Live
Posted: 10/09/2012 3:40 pm
The day after her 36th birthday, Meredith Israel Thomas was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had spread to her liver, lymph nodes, spine, ribs and other bones. Doctors didn’t think remission was possible, so opted against a mastectomy, but she has undergone a number of other treatments since then.
An advocate for early detection, she pledged to make the most of what was to be limited time with her family — including her young daughter Niomi, a“miracle baby,” she wrote in a blog post for HuffPost — and closest friends.
After receiving some troubling test results, Meredith met with her doctor, who broke the news that “the cancer has won,” she wrote on her CaringBridge page. “I will die from liver failure. Not in three to six months, but from weeks till around three months. The liver won, and I will die.”
I will never get over my fears of not being there for Niomi as that is what truly scares me to death, but until the day comes, I will live each day to the fullest. I will instill in her the most valuable lessons I can. I will teach her to be strong, to give her advice through letters, through videos and even through our little talks while she’s falling asleep at night. But for now, we live day by day and that takes my fears away.
She took to the blog platform to explain the doctor’s opinions and to share her plans for the precious next few weeks.
I want to let everyone know that I tried my heart out in the fight, I won’t quit until the last drop and I’ve done the best I can. This blog is the real story for Niomi. I can’t remember everything, but with this, she will know everything.
I can’t wait for her to read all the journal entries from people on the blog. People will tell her the stories about how much her mommy loves her. I must admit I am scared to walk into that playground tomorrow, but for Niomi, I will do whatever it takes.
I will cherish the dinner between my parents and Gary tonight. It was pouring rain as we left Sloan tonight and I said to my dad, doesn’t this seem like deja vu? I didn’t believe in the one-year diagnosis, but this time the results were right and realistic. My dad keeps hoping that on April Fool’s Day, we say April Fool’s, gotcha! Maybe that’s the miracle. Who knows?
To warn you — I threw out two cancer jokes today. Couldn’t help it, but that’s me. I guess that is how I live life. Example: I told my friend about this project and said it has to get done and I asked when. She said, “I promise to take care of it.” I then texted her back: “I’m on a timeline here, a real timeline, so they really need to move.” She started laughing and said, “Only you would still make jokes on a day like this.”
Everyone, thank you so much for sharing my story with people and spreading the word about early detection. Thank you for being there for me and supporting me. I read every email, text, Facebook post and guestbook entry. They all bring my family and me strength. Thank you!!!!
Can you believe I won’t know the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice andParenthood? UGH. Now, that sucks. Hopefully they know these things in Heaven.
Before I leave though, I want to try to get Niomi on skis, I want to be running down the beach with her as much as possible, apple picking and taking in as much healthy air as possible while she smiles.
I have lots to write and to get to on my list. I may not like that I may die bald, that I never really recovered from Bells palsy and lost the pigmentation in my face, but at the end of the day, I am beautiful no matter what. I have a husband who loves me more than anything in this world, and Niomi. I think Los Angeles would have been great and would have been great for my health, but the cards didn’t align this time and maybe it was all meant to be. Three weeks ago I was walking in Cape Town, South Africa and three weeks later I was told I will be dead within weeks to a month or so. Life leaves us all with a lot of questions, but I know I don’t blame anyone and they just better find a fucking cure for this disease before Niomi and the kids of all my friends who have been diagnosed have to fear this horrible disease.
My head is soaked and itchy. Maybe when we get her to a ski mountain, which isn’t really possible, I will walk out into the snow naked to cool off. Just kidding.
Must work on a better list that doesn’t have me flying all over the world. He won’t approve of that. But I dream of Hilton Head. My happy place. I must get back to Hilton Head to see Niomi back there on the beach or bay. I need to find all my happy places on the east coast.
Wednesday a specialist surgeon came to see Jared. He said CT findings, such as indicated in Jared’s scan, is nonspecific and are generally “not recommended to rule out the presence of a neoplastic process such as lymphoma. A surgically obtained biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis of lymphoma.”
Jared asked the doctor exactly what he meant. The doctor tried to avoid answering Jared.
Jared repeated his question: “What do you mean doctor?”
“We have to eliminate lymph cancer.” the doctor said.
He continued to explain to Jared that due to the position of the para-aortic lymph nodes the surgical biopsy is major surgery. A large incision has to be made to allow access to the lymph nodes situated near the aorta, right in front of several lumbar vertebrae. Jared said “Doctor I had major surgery with my Nissen Repair and it was keyhole surgery…Now you want to make a large cut for a biopsy?”
I thought it was a rather intelligent and rational question and even in the scary moment I was proud of my grandson.
The surgeon said Jared would go to theater on Thursday morning for the biopsy. He asked me to be there by 6 am so we could have a further discussion before Jared went into theater.
Jared’s eyes, when he registered what the doctor said, will haunt me until my dying day. He simply said “Oumie can we phone Mom?”
Vic’s first reaction was “Mommy I am just too sick…..” I told her Jared wanted to see her and that her dad would bring her to the hospital.
I took Vic aside and broke the news to her first. Then we spoke as a family. We went to the cafeteria and had a cup of tea. Nobody had an appetite.
We left home at 5.30am on Thursday morning. It was raining and freezing cold.
At the hospital the surgeon spent a lot of time talking to us. He discussed the results of the CT scan and said that the most common reason for lymph nodes to enlarge is infection. The blood tests, done on Monday and repeated on Wednesday, however showed no infection levels. The CRP levels were perfectly normal. The problem with Lymphoma is that bio-markers are not enough evidence for a diagnosis…
The surgeon was concerned that he had a very long theater list and that Jared had already had four anesthetics this year. It was a long procedure…. Furthermore he had to go back to theatre in two weeks time for the removal of the stent. We agreed that the biopsy would be delayed for two weeks…
Jared came home on Thursday. He is on very strong antibiotics. His kidney is still sore. He is scared.