Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Loss So Dear To My Heart | personal

How can I even find the words?  This is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to write about, and ever since she got sick, I’ve been at a complete loss of what to say.

Around January this year she started having some pain in her neck and a slight cough that wouldn’t go away.  She went to the doctor numerous times trying to figure out what was going on with her body.  She even went to the dentist at one point to make sure she didn’t have a bad tooth causing her symptoms.  By March she missed work three days in a row.  That was so unlike her, and we decided to take her to the emergency room at a hospital where we knew someone who works as an RN.  I left work early that day to drive her and my dad there.  There was just something in my dad’s voice when I talked to him on the phone that afternoon that told me I needed to drive them both.  It scared me the way he sounded.

She stayed a couple nights at that hospital getting everything checked in her chest area.  There was talk of the possibility of tuberculosis, and a lung surgeon from ORMC/MD Anderson joined the team of doctors who were examining her.  He did a CT scan and found a tumor in her chest.  From that moment it seemed that time flew by. 

On April 1st she was scheduled for a biopsy to determine what kind of tumor she had growing on the outside of her left lung right next to her heart.  How scared I was the day we took her to the emergency room didn’t compare to how I felt this day.  

I went to work like normal because, with the construction industry being as slow as it is, and our company not having had any jobs all year, now was not the time for me to be missing any days.  While I was there I felt this overwhelming sense that I should be at the hospital with the rest of my family.  I wanted to get there before she went into surgery.  I needed to be there to give her a kiss and tell her that I loved her but it didn’t work out that way.

I called my boss to tell him what was going on and ask him if I could go.  He asked me to wait there because he had some things he needed me to do.  By the time he arrived to the office, and ignored me for about a half hour, I was very upset with him and at the situation.  Finally he called me back to talk with him, and after a long talk about my situation and about his company, he let me go.  I mean, I was laid off.  What a blow!  But I didn’t care.  I just wanted to get to the hospital and see her as fast as I could.

I got there just in time to go in with dad and see her as she was waking up.  The surgeon had already come to see the rest of the family and tell them that the tumor was malignant. 


It would be a couple days before they could tell us what kind. 

When dad and I went in to see her and get her ready to go home, we asked her if the doctor had come back to talk to her.  She said he had not.  Dad told her about the tumor with tears in his eyes.  I felt like I wasn’t even in the room with them as they looked at each other, upset, scared, and my heart ached as I heard her ask him if she was going to die.

Her follow up appointment came a couple days later. 

Lung cancer.  Lung cancer that had formed in a tumor on the outside of her left lung.

From that day on she never fully recovered.  Her chest hurt.  She was coughing all the time.  And she lost her voice.  The day she lost her voice, I felt like I had already lost her.  It was so very painful for me to go back and see her throughout the following weeks.  I have always thought of myself as a strong person who can handle anything that is thrown my way, but not with her.  Not her.

She started radiation treatments that were supposed to shrink the tumor.  There was no way surgery could be done because it was too close to her main organs.  She opted against chemo because she just didn’t have the strength for that.

I went to see her a couple times a week.  Stayed in the hospital with her one night at the end of April while she was there because of blood clots in her legs.  Oh, how hard it was to watch her unable to really get herself out of bed and walk around.  How painful it was to see her so frustrated because it hurt her too much to try and talk.  How dreadful it was to see her barely eating anything.

But she was so good about her new diet.  My dad did all the research.  He purchased books, scoured the internet, read up on every report he could to try and find a way to beat this thing.  Stay away from sugar.  Sugar feeds the cancer.  Stay away from anything that turns into sugar in your blood, like pasta.  Eat lots of vitamins.  Drink lots of water.  He bought her a special water to drink that you can only find in Chamberlin’s.  He put her on Poly MVA which was supposed to work with the immune system to help fight off the cancer cells.  It was expensive.

She skipped the vitamins sometimes.  They got too hard for her to swallow.  The Poly was her lifeline.  She said that it made her feel better.  She could feel it working.

But I saw her looking worse when I would go visit.  It scared me so much.  My dad and the rest of the family stayed pretty positive, so I stayed away more.  There was no way that I wanted to scare the rest of them by my being so scared.  And there was no way that I wanted to bring any negative energy into that house.  

After seven weeks the radiation was finished, and on Monday, July 19, she went back for another CT scan to see how much the tumor had gone down.  At her follow up appointment the next day, Tuesday, the doctor told her that the tumor had not gone down and there was a small mass formed on her right lung.  He said the scans were foggy because of some inflammation in her lungs.  There was talk of starting another kind of chemo as soon as she built up enough strength for it.  He changed her medications because she was in more pain than before.  They thought it might have been from the last doses of radiation, which were more intense. 

When I heard the news I went straight over there to spend some time with all of them.  When I got there, she was sitting up in her new chair with the rest of the family in the family room.  She loved that chair.  As I sat there with all of them in that quiet room, watching her play Words With Friends, I could see that she was scared.  I was scared for her.  I stayed around until she was tired and wanting to go to bed.  She was feeling anxious so she took one of the anxiety pills that the doc had prescribed her before going to lay down.

As she got up from her chair and walked herself into her room with dad following closely behind, they passed me in the foyer and I noticed that she was standing almost six inches shorter than me.  I never did grow to be as tall as her, so looking down at the top of her head as she passed was shocking to me.

The next morning at around 9:00am I got a text message from my dad saying that they had to call 911 and rush her to the emergency room.  She had overdosed on her new medications. Not because she took more than what was prescribed, but because her body couldn’t handle the doses.

I won’t talk about the next two weeks that passed except to say that they went by fast.  Too fast.  And she never made it back out of the hospital.

On top of the overdose...pneumonia, and the cancer spread like wildfire through her lungs.

Her body gave up the fight, and she left it on July 31st, 2010.  A day that changed me and my family forever.

She was 63.

She’s not in pain anymore.  I am so very thankful for that.

I miss her so much.

My mom.

I miss her so, so very much.

Please feel free to visit our site dedicated to her:  My Mom, Linda


  1. I love you so much Jess! I am so sorry you are going through a pain unlike any other! Time will help you heal and I learned w/ dad, keep writing it helps, it really does!!! Talk to her as much as you can as much as you need! She is there, she hears and feels your sadness and she will come to you when she knows you are ready!!!! You have a great bond w/ a wonderful family, you will find so much strength just by being in their presence! I pray constantly that God help you and your family find peace in your loss... See you Saturday! Love, Beth

  2. Hey girl!! I just want you to know how much I love you and your family!!! Your mom was a beautiful and kind lady! We will see her again someday!! I'm always here in the meantime though!

  3. i love you, jess - as you know. i believe that you are an incredibly strong, beautiful individual - even if you don't feel the same at this time. i'm continually amazed at the level of courage and strength that you have shown throughout this ordeal. i know that your relationship with your mother is stronger than death - and that this separation is only a temporary one. it gives me much comfort to know that i will never be faced with any trial - of ANY kind - that i cannot overcome. i will never be dealt a card that i cannot play. and while it doesn't make it 'easier' to overcome - that knowledge, given to me by my heavenly father, helps me remember that it *can* be done. some way, somehow and with some time - i can get through it and learn to cope. you have a wonderful family, jess - and a wonderful support system. rely on them and what you know to be true. i LOVE you - and hate to see you hurting. please know that you and yours are in our thought and our prayers. we all love you. please know that we are here if you need anything - even if only love.