Tonight we lost the matriarch of our family. At around 7:30pm, Anne took her final breath. She held on as long as possible to spend her final moments with her daughter, Farrah. We are all so very lucky to have been able to spend her final weeks, days, and hours with her.
Next week is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I run this race every year. This year, I will be participating in Anne’s memory as well as in memory of Jade’s mother, Rose, who also died from breast cancer.
Anne is still holding on to life. She is spending less time alert but she is still here. Despite our best efforts, she has a couple of bad bed sores. Unfortunately, these are common in bed bound patients with no mobility. A good friend of mine whose mother is a nurse and whose father recently died after battling cancer for several years gave me some really amazing bedsore pads to use on Anne. They seem to be helping.
Watching Anne die is one of the most difficult things I have had to endure. Anne has always been the vibrant one. She is always my go-to for laughter and insight. Losing her will be hard on this family. Lately, Anne has been speaking to her son who died almost twenty years ago. I like to believe her son has come back to get her to lead her home. So while we are losing Anne here, I believe Anne will be reunited with people she has loved and lost, her son Frank, her daughter, Colleen, her mother, and her brother and sister. In some regards, this brings me peace.
So, I will continue to cherish each day with her while reminding her that we will all be okay. I believe she needs to know that we will all be okay.
So Anne, we are all okay. Your daughter, Farrah, will be fine. It’s time to go home now.
Anne was released from the palliative care unit today. She’s returned home and is under the care of hospice for the remainder of her days here on Earth.
Today was hard. She looked do weak in that hospital bed we’ve set up in her room. The family has collectively made the decision to discontinue dialysis and to turn off her pacemaker. Anne signed a DNR today. 14 days is our best guesstimate.
For me, the most striking thing is how it seems Anne looks through us. She has one foot in this world and the other one in the next. All I want for her is peace. Peace seems elusive.
At times, my heart is heavy. I find my resolve of steel faltering. Every day we are one step closer to losing the matriarch of this side of the family. Cancer sucks. It’s ugly. It’s painful. It’s cruel. Anne’s days are waning and the next chapter is beginning.
Anne was admitted to the hospital Friday night because her defibrillator went off seven times in a two hour window. After multiple opinions, the doctors determined that Anne’s defibrillator was likely reacting to the cancer that has now spread to her stomach, intestines, bones, lung, and brain most likely. Her cancer is so advanced that they recommended discontinuing dialysis and turning off her defibrillator.
Anne has been moved to the palliative care unit until a better hospice provider can be secured for her. Jade is being strong but losing yet another member of her family to cancer is devastating. I find myself worrying about Jade’s likelihood of developing the same type of breast cancer. Watching Anne is so sad. She’s become so frail. She’s in pain much of the time. Today, the doctor told us that at best estimate, Anne has not more than 17 days remaining. 17 days = October 11th. I know this date isn’t set in stone but being given a number brings a sense of reality to it. Honestly, I’ll be shocked if she makes it to then. Every day is literally a gift and a struggle. I want Anne’s pain to end but to do so also means Jade loses a sister, Farrah loses a mom, and my sweet goddaughter loses a granny.
17 days. May these remaining days bring Anne peace and comfort for her next journey.
“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe…in the movement of the stars and the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons. But human life is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.” – Katherine Anne Porter
Fall is approaching. Leaves are accruing outside of my window. The seasons are changing. My life is in a transitional phase and I don’t know what to do with all of my emotions.
Jade and I got into a strong discussion last night about the direction of our lives. I won’t elaborate on the discussion now but ultimately, it led to us getting little sleep last night and left a bit of distance between us. At this point, I don’t think it’s anything she and I can’t work through but it has left me feeling vulnerable and uncertain nonetheless.
Anne’s health continues to fail. Lately, she has had a lot of balance issues. She falls often even with the assistance of a walker. My heart breaks as I feel death is approaching. She’s lost so much weight; she has no appetite. She is losing her ability to control her bladder and bowel functions. She’s confused more often than not and is lashing out at the people around her. We all try to be supportive and understanding. We are trying to surround her with love and understanding. I wish I could take away her suffering. Greg, Anne’s husband, is home with her during the day. He isn’t in the best of health himself (uncontrollable type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure) so assisting Anne with her day-to-day needs are becoming overwhelming for him even with the support of hospice home health aides. Today, Greg mentioned that perhaps Anne should go into inpatient hospice care. The entire family collectively balked at his suggestion. My fervent hope is that he will choose to hire an in-home care provider. I don’t want to imagine Anne spending her final days in a nursing home of sorts.
Jade and I get the keys to our new house tomorrow. More on that front later.
It wasn’t my intention to turn this blog into a space to discuss cancer but this blog serves as a space for me to write about my life. At present, cancer is a major part of it. Please bear with me as we go through this season of change.