Category Archives: cancer

Morning Coffee with Twilight

The coffee is a little weak this morning, Mom. In fact, it looks just
like water… How about some expresso?

My Human has had a hard week. Good thing I’m here.


No, Human. I mean MY OWN cup!!

Every time my Can Opener seems like she’s able to move on from the loss of the Backup Can Opener in January, something always seems to happen to stir it all up again. Sushi and I have our paws full comforting her and trying to remind her to sing praise, (it lifts her above grief, sorrow and depression every time- if she just remembers to do it)! She never had to be reminded before. But now every day events bring back waves. We help her get through it.


Image by J F from Pixabay

We’re always hearing her sing praise and give thanks to the Lord for all He’s done for her and for the ways he has sustained and preserved her. Especially since the loss. But lately a couple of things have happened in the neighborhood that has never happened here before in the 15+ years we have lived here. One of those things was an act of violence against a woman down the street (who was attacked by her live-in- whoever). She was only walking to her car – the assailant followed her cursing and slammed her to the ground- she did absolutely nothing but try to get away. He tried to prevent her from getting into her car to leave- but she kept trying and she got in and locked the doors.

Then he went to the passenger side and tried to open it – (the Human and her sister and others saw it on the first warm, sunny day we had, when they were discussing plans for their gardens). They called the police right away- others just looked away.

Meanwhile, the assailant hung onto the car as the woman tried to drive away and he hung on for the longest time until she was able to go fast enough (without hurting him) to pull away and leave. He had thrown glass bottles at her as she was leaving, and other things- the neighbor closest to him who lives alone, watched it and did nothing but wait until the man went back in his house and then he cleaned up all the broken glass in the street and on the lawn.

The police came- but by the time the officer got here, the woman was gone and so was the assailant. That upset everyone in the neighborhood- but our Can Opener especially was grieved – she knows these things happen. But never has she seen it so close to her house. It left her (and her sister and others in the neighborhood) feeling vulnerable and almost as though they themselves had been assaulted.

This has always been a peaceful neighborhood where everyone watched after each other. Seeing this just added to the waves of (normal) grief that our human has been dealing with since January. It also showed her the need to pray for her neighbors. And to pray for the police officers and first responders who literally lay their lives on the line every time they show up for work.

For about 3 days our human couldn’t concentrate enough to help us post. But she has resumed singing praise when anxiety and depression rears its ugly head to threaten her peace, and every time it lifts her above all the chaos in the world and brings comfort, peace, and even joy in the middle of it all.

Jesus Himself is her peace. And He makes her know she’s not really alone- or vulnerable

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled. Neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27 ESV

Life and Memorial

Image by anncapictures from Pixabay

Still So Surreal

Every relationship we enter knowing that one day for whatever reason, it will end. But that doesn’t make it any easier to get through when it does. And when it ends because of a sudden diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, the memories of all your loved one endured are relentlessly painful. And they hit you at the most inopportune times, and sometimes for no apparent “reason” at all.

Like when you’re going into your closet to pick an outfit for something, and you see something your husband loved to see you wear. Or you want to get a haircut, and automatically try to choose one he would like- or you go grocery shopping, and without realizing it, fill your cart with things he loved that you can’t eat – then you suddenly realize that you no longer need to concern yourself with those preferences.

The emptiness that suddenly hits you is indescribable. And you think to yourself, it’s only been 2 months and two days. How can I handle this for the next few months- or years?

You try to go on with life as it was before, because you have to. But everything has changed. Now there’s no one (except the cats) waiting for you when you get home- and no one to watch a movie with or share a cup of coffee with. Loud or sudden noises become extremely annoying, silence isn’t the comfort it once was, you realize you have to become very purposeful in order to do the things you know you need to do to take care of yourself.

This is where grief counseling helps so much. Seeing the impact that the loss of your husband has had on your family, you realize that you don’t want them to suffer another loss if you can help it. Exercise becomes a priority – (even though it’s the last thing you feel like thinking about)- Avoiding junk food and eating right is even more important because what you eat (especially when grieving) will definitely not only affect your health, but your mood as well.

Being with friends and family become critical – especially if you are blessed with a family like mine, where love and respect are most important. My heart goes out to those suffering the loss of a loved one without that critical support. How do they manage to face each new day?

This is what it’s like. But at some point, you have to make a decision. You can allow yourself to be overcome with sorrow and grieve to death- or you can choose to live with new purpose.

It’s not easy- but by the Holy Spirit you can receive strength for each new day, comfort in your sorrows, and a new life of purpose.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://bible.com/bible/111/isa.61.1-3.NIV

Peace is possible- even in mourning.


Trust

Grief Counseling Has Begun

Photo by lilartsy from Pexels

“The wild feral animal that comes in your house and won’t leave (or listen to you).”

That’s the way the grief counselor described how an event like this – (a sudden devastating diagnosis and death of a loved one)- affects the human brain. And it’s completely accurate.

It’s also a great way to describe how the memories of the lost person plow into you when you least expect it. Welcome or not, they come flooding back like an unexpected assault right when you think you’re going to be okay.

It’s only been a little over a month- it still feels unreal- yet the ashes prove it is real.

Nothing is the same. Suddenly there’s no one (except pets) to greet you when you wake up in the morning. No one to brew coffee for and start the day with. No more dinners out, nor birthdays, nor holidays to share together. No one to give the much-needed hugs, validation, and encouragement.

And yet, there is so much to do. Little time to grieve, or even dare to let yourself feel. Numbly, life goes on unmarked by everyone but the family who are left with a tangle of emotion that they don’t even know how to vocalize. And the children- and grandchildren- who just can’t even process what’s happening.

They throw themselves into work, or play, or anything they can to get a reprieve from the hurricane of un-named feelings swirling around in their minds. And the 5 – year- old in her innocence and inability to grasp the finality of it simply turns it into a pretend situation with her Barbies.

I’ve been advised to write about it by both my counselor and my doctor. I’ve noticed that trying to carry on as I always did before isn’t working very well. The emptiness and feelings just refuse to be ignored. Yes, I know and am confident that my husband is no longer in misery and constant pain. And for that I’m grateful- What I watched him suffer, I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I will write because they have advised me to- and somehow it really does help. I am returning to my daily workout routine (trying anyway). I’ve lost 13 pounds and my blood pressure is great- I’m eating well – I was already in the habit of eating ‘clean.’

But I have headaches every single day now and my hair has started falling out. Somehow this is especially upsetting, because my husband – (and everyone else) – has always loved my long hair. The Doctor confirmed yesterday that both the hair loss and the headaches are due to the stress that erupted like a volcano in December and continued as I provided hospice care for my husband until he passed away last month.

Apparently you really can’t get by on an hour or two of sleep every night for weeks, and not be affected by it. I am told that the hair loss will correct itself once the stress is reduced- so I am doing everything they said I should do- counseling, writing, making sure I get enough sleep, managing stress and resuming my exercise routines. Adding to this a scoop of collagen powder in my coffee every morning, a balanced, clean diet, biotin and other vitamins. I’ve also started watching comedy and making time for relaxing things that I enjoy but “never have time for.”

Laughter really does help- It doesn’t take away the feelings, but it does make it easier, and keeps me from dwelling on the things I can’t change. And where these things fail, The Lord Himself takes over. He reminds me that my peace, hope, and security is found in Him – even in the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23)


https://www.bible.com/bible/114/psa.23.4


found on Pinterest

From “the Can Opener”

Image by autumnsgoddess0 from Pixabay

Monday will mark one month

This Monday will be Valentine’s Day- and it will also mark one month since my husband passed. It still feels like it was yesterday. How do I celebrate Valentine’s Day without him after 40 years?

I thought I was doing okay until I had to go pick up his death certificate and his ashes from the funeral home. I had known it wasn’t going to be easy, but nothing can really prepare you for bringing your spouse home that way.

I don’t want to dwell on this for too long. But it has taken me days to be up to writing about this and I will be starting grief counseling (hopefully this week)- and I know this will be one thing recommended. I had bought a new journal to write about the whole cancer diagnosis and why it wasn’t diagnosed until it was too late.

But I have yet to write a single word in that journal, because I stare at the blank page and my mind instantly starts seeing him doubled over in continual pain and struggling to breathe as he had been daily since about May of last year. I want to watch tv, and I remember the countless times we would “watch something together” and he would retreat into the bedroom in too much pain to care. Then I remember hearing him breathing at night and saying, “I think you should go to ER” (but he was in too much pain).

I start seeing the countless dinners I’d prepared for us, from which he would take one or two bites, then retreat into the bedroom in pain saying he was “full.” I remember the vain attempts to offer him something that would maybe- just MAYBE help him have a little relief – only to have him refuse it because he already knew it wouldn’t help.

I constantly feel the helplessness all over again of thinking he was going to die, and we wouldn’t even know why. I feel the anger at the doctors again also who saw his “something” on his small intestine that “they didn’t think was cancer”- and didn’t give him anything at all to relieve his constant pain and other symptoms while he waited an average of 3 months to be seen by another specialist who said the same things and referred him to yet another specialist– (with yet another month or two or three in between).

The last specialist he was referred to was 110 miles away – and when he finally was called (in November) by that specialist it was for a phone consultation. Still no relief for him symptoms meanwhile. The next thing we knew he was being rushed to the ER because of a blood clot- and nothing was the same after that.

I need to stop this for now – (though I hadn’t planned to)- There is so much more to say- but I want to encourage you all to not take for granted the time you have with your loved ones. Especially your spouses. When we celebrated the New Year this year, we knew something was wrong with my husband, but we had no idea that the Christmas we had was going to be our last Christmas together- and that the New Year we celebrated would be the last time we would ring in a New Year.

Whatever you do- treat your loved ones – with respect and consideration – don’t say things in anger and frustration that you can never take back. Don’t be oblivious to their emotional needs or frustrated with them when they don’t see things the way you do. Let them be who they are- don’t try to make them a copy of yourself. You have one chance in this life to BE the “someone special” to the “special someone” in your life.

Sheild and protect each other. Uphold each other’s dignity- and don’t tolerate anyone speaking evil of your spouse. BE SOMEONE SPECIAL to them while you can- today! Tomorrow everything could change.



Morning Coffee with Twilight

Sorry Mom- I get Daddy’s bear now. He said so.

You can have the coffee- give me the bear!

The Can Opener has been sleeping in lately. Probably making up for not being able to sleep for more than a couple of hours a night for the last month or more.

The problem is, if she sleeps late, we get fed late. But we’ll live- especially Sushi- she’s a large storage tank. I don’t think the diet thing is working for her- I haven’t seen her lose as much as a whisker!

The Can Opener is trying to carry on as usual, (what choice does she have, really)- but some days are harder than others. We know it’s going to take a while and we’re trying to be patient. Today I’m going to post some random memes to make her laugh. That is, if she can slow down long enough to read them!

I’m going to make the Can Opener rest today- (after she feeds us, of course). Have a good day- and keep those purrayers coming, please.

((((((purrrrrs)))))))

Twilight’s Therapy Tips

Yesterday was a hard day for the Can Opener. So today I’m giving her some tips to help!

Twilight’s Tips to Take Care of Yourself

Some Days are better than others for anyone- but lately my Can Opener has some days that are really difficult. Like yesterday when she got a call from the Funeral Home. Of course, she also had flower deliveries as well- and that really helped. But I think it’s time I share some advice for her and for others that may be going through something as well. I call it “Twilight’s Tips.”

Remember who your true friends are.
Take time to Paws and reflect.

Try something new and fun

Keep a pawsitive attitude.
Don’t skip meals

Don’t take any bull
That should do it.

It was all about comfort

Everyone worked together to keep him as comfortable as possible

Hospice provided a hospital bed

Within an hour of leaving the hospital, a Hospice Nurse arrived and provided everything we needed for his care- even sets of new sheets for the hospital bed- various other supplies, and of course, his meds. Everything was directed at keeping his pain under control, controlling anxiety, and keeping him as comfortable as he could be.

Our daughters and their families stayed over to make sure someone was always at his side, and to assist in his care and make the atmosphere as peaceful and restful as possible. They were an amazing support to me as well, as I was having a hard time finding time even to eat, sleep, or spend time with Sushi and Twilight.

I could tell that Twilight especially, was stressed and restless. Before the first blood clot happened, Twilight knew something was wrong with him and always stayed close to him. The kids helped with the kitties’ needs and provided food and took turns staying up at night at his bedside so I could sleep. It was hard to keep up with his med schedule, but it was the top priority since pain control was the top priority.

It wasn’t long before swallowing became too difficult and eating and drinking stopped. Soon after that, we found we couldn’t understand what he said when he tried to talk, and before long, he quit trying. We played music he liked, took turns reading the Bible to him and knowing he could still hear us, talking about happy memories. But this became harder to do as we saw him continue to deteriorate- and become unresponsive. Then we all started tuning in to his breathing without even realizing we were doing it.

After 8 days, the battle was too much for him and he passed peacefully with his whole family at his side.

There is a lot more to this story, but for now I’m stopping. We are just relieved to know that he is no longer in pain and is finally with the Lord- and I am so thankful for our kids and grandkids because they did everything they could to make sure that I had the help I needed, Twilight and Sushi were taken care of, and that he knew He was valued and loved and in good hands. They took turns staying with him after I gave him his meds, (and they took over doing his meds and recording them at night so I could sleep)- and they made sure I was taken care of as well.

Hospice was amazing and will be assisting our whole family for the next 13 months. A social worker, chaplain, and others are checking on me and the kids and keeping in touch by phone to make sure I’m okay, while at the same time offering free grief counseling for the entire family for the next year.

I honestly don’t know how I could have gotten through the last month without our family and hospice.

I am truly thankful for them all. Knowing also that I do not have my husband’s income anymore, they are also helping with keeping the kitties supplied so their needs are met. I cannot tell you how much of a relief it is.

Goodnight for now.

Left on my doorstep today by the Hospice team to make sure Twilight and Sushi have what they need.

What a huge blessing!

The Surprise at the Hospital

I’ve been stressed and I’m going to let Mom do this post. I don’t understand all that medical stuff.

“There’s no more Treatment”

In my last post (more than a week ago)- I wrote that my husband had finished the first chemo treatment. I discovered the next day when I went back to the hospital, that he had completed the first part of the first treatment. It took 3 days altogether for it to be done. I was thankful that they had finally allowed me to visit him, so during and after the chemo, I stayed with him and tried my best to get him to drink fluids and eat what he could.

He seemed to be doing well after the chemo – (except for having no appetite) – but he kept bleeding from his intestines and after about 5 different transfusions, it was clear that the bleeding wouldn’t stop and they didn’t want to do more transfusions (because of a blood shortage). That meant they also couldn’t give him blood thinners to get rid of the clot (still in) his leg, either.

On January 6, I came to see him and his countenance had completely changed. It was as if all hope of recovery had evaporated from him and the first thing he said to me was, “Call my sister.” I was surprised, because I had thought he had already told her about the cancer- so I took my phone to a quiet place to call her and had to let her know what was happening. Of course, she burst into tears, as I had known she would.

She asked if he was conscious and if he could talk, and I answered yes, and headed back to his room to hold the phone for him (on speaker phone), so they could talk. The chemo had somehow affected his eyes, so after the chemo he wasn’t able to see messages on his phone.

Right after I walked into the room with the phone on speaker still, a man appeared in the doorway, and asked if I was his wife. Then he simply said, “Here’s the thing. There’s no more treatment. We’ve done all we can do, and we are changing (him) to DNR (do not rescusitate). And we are sending him home for hospice care. He and I discussed this this morning and this is what he wants.”

I looked at my husband and knew He had wanted the Hospice Coordinator to tell me, and so it was. Within an hour, we were on our way back home in an ambulance.

And that began the last chapter of my husband’s life. I will write more tomorrow. It has taken me several days to get this far.

Thank you for bearing with me and for all your prayers and support. I love you all.


Still not home

I’ve been digging around looking everywhere- but he’s still not home.

January 1st Chemo

The days have seemed to all blend into one very long day. At the other hospital where the cancer was found and diagnosed, visitors were allowed, so our Can Opener was gone for hours every day staying at the hospital with the Back-up Can Opener.

But a new blood clot (and the same old misery with pain and struggling to breathe), sent him back to ER the day after Christmas. This hospital doesn’t allow visitors – So from the time he was admitted the day after Christmas until the 1st- our Can Opener wasn’t allowed to visit him.

Bleeding and two more transfusions later, the blood clot couldn’t be taken care of yet. Blood thinners aren’t a good idea when bleeding continues elsewhere. And surgery in this case, wasn’t an option.

After several failed attempts to stop the bleeding, they decided to attack it by attacking the tumor- with Chemo. It started Jan.1. Finally, after calling repeatedly every day, to get permission to visit when he said he was nervous about the chemo, they finally allowed our human to go see him. Today it is finally done. (First dose).

When is he coming home, human?

The Can Opener hasn’t been getting much sleep- so Sushi and I have been working overtime (without pay), to keep her distracted. Sushi does it by proving herself to be a true feline, leaving her presents in the floor (hairballs). I do my part by attacking her feet the second she kicks her shoes off, walking on the laptop, and hopping up on back of her chair at the desk.

She keeps herself busy when she can’t be with him at the hospital, and she’s been praying a lot. Along with all their friends and family.

We see her get her workout mat and put it down and Sushi and I immediately warm it up for her by sharpening our claws on it, and I help coach her. But nothing feels normal. She still works out to manage her stress and stay healthy- but we don’t like that he’s not here. Neither does the rest of the family.

The Tiny One’s new Princess shoes

And the little Critter turned 5 yesterday, and her Grandpa wasn’t able to be here for her birthday or see her in her Princess outfit. She knows he’s in the hospital, and she knows what’s wrong. But she’s only 5 so she doesn’t “know.”

You know?



Home For Christmas

The doctors let him come home for Christmas

Home for Christmas Then back to ER

The Can Opener finally is able to update you all – but there has been so much happening since our last post, and so many details that she just can’t cover it all in the next hour. So we decided to help her come up with a short version in hopes that we can relieve her a little.

The tumor is huge. And inoperable. There are spots on the liver too. And an ulcer. There has been bleeding when he goes to the bathroom that has been hard to control. He has had over 5 blood transfusions since the 18th of December, and there is a blood shortage.

In the last 2 weeks he has gained 20 lbs (bloating) in fluid. He has difficulty breathing. And had to be put on a diet of baby food and other easy to eat food. The tumor is pressing on his diaphragm, and the opening from the tummy into the small intestine.

The last time he had a transfusion was Dec.23- That’s when they also told him there is a blood shortage. Then they took him off blood thinners, did surgery to put in a port for chemotherapy (after Christmas), and also put a filter in his major artery to catch any possible blood clots that could happen while he was at home for Christmas.

A day before this, the Doctor called the Can Opener while he was in recovery from the proceedure for the chemo port, and told her he needed her to get the family together and decide whether there was going to be a DNR order- this completely caught our Can Opener off guard because they had up until that point, sounded very optimistic about the chemo. They had told her the day before that “fortunately this cancer responds well to chemo…” so she was feeling hopeful and encouraged. Then to suddenly get this call was traumatizing. She asked the Doctor, “if it were you in his place, (regarding the chemo)- what would you do?– What are his chances?” She can’t remember exactly how he said it, but the main idea was, not good.

So she called the family and broke the news to them and the Critters. They all decided because it is HIS wish to fight and to have the chemo so he can live and see the Critters grow up and be at their weddings, that he DOES NOT want a DNR. All of us are supporting his decision. But that doesn’t make it easy. Christmas eve morning he was sent home to spend Christmas with the family –

His hemoglobin levels are low. His body isn’t retaining nutrients from his food. They gave him iron by IV then sent him home Christmas Eve morning (the birthday of their youngest daughter)-

When he was released, the Doctors said to send him back to the hospital if he got worse, had symptoms of another blood clot, (more) breathing problems or any bleeding. And even if those things didn’t happen, they wanted him at a different hospital on Monday to start chemo as early as possible.

Christmas night his leg started hurting again (same leg they had removed the blood clot from and inserted a stent)… once again it was swollen, and so painful he didn’t want it touched. He was in pain from that and his belly and struggling to breathe. Yesterday, (Monday) the pain was worse and he was limping and the Can Opener called 911. Once again he was on his way to ER. Only at a bigger hospital where they could also start the chemo.


He was admitted, a chest xray was ordered, he was put on oxygen, and an ultrasound was taken of his heart. The xray showed his lungs were filling with fluid. No results on the untrasound of his heart yet, he is getting iron by IV again, and they have confirmed he does have a new blood clot in the same leg.

They are trying to stop the bleeding, and that has to happen before they can take care of the clot or start chemo.

We will post again as soon as the Can Opener can handle it. She hasn’t even had time to think or process anything yet.

Prayers are needed for the whole family and especially for the doctors and nurses that are working so hard to help him. They need wisdom to know the best course of treatment for him and strength to get through their day. They are working short of staff and are doing the best they can and are making a huge difference. We love and appreciate all in the medical field for all they do.