Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Really Tough Day

Today, I had to say goodbye to a great friend as she lay, unresponsive and on a ventilator, in her hospital bed in the ICU. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma just four weeks ago, and also now has plasma cell leukemia. Since her diagnosis, her condition has rapidly declined, and she has been too ill to even get treatment. As recently as two weeks ago, the doctors were saying that she should be in remission after two months of chemo – a chemo that would never happen. Over the last 10 days, she has had one horrific medical problem after another, the latest few being bleeding in the brain, pneumonia, and large amounts of fluid in her chest cavity.

Then last night, her husband called to tell us that she has bleeding in her lungs, with no hope of reversing it. He told us if we wanted to say goodbye, we had to do it today. Family is coming in from all over to see her before they remove the respirator. We went to the hospital today with two friends to see her one last time. It was a horrible and helpless feeling, the saddest thing I have had to do in a very long time. And it is going to take a long time to get over it. I held her hand and told her how much we would miss her, how we would look after her husband, and how I will wear a picture of her during my next Team in Training race. I tried, with limited success, not to cry while talking to her.

She and her husband were to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this spring. That won’t happen. She spent her last birthday and New Year’s in the hospital, and her last Christmas in a hospital bed at home at a time we all prayed she could start treatment and beat this thing. We talked with her about celebrating her birthday later, and we talked with her husband about celebrating New Year’s later with the two of them. That won’t happen. My wife and I talked about taking them out to a fancy restaurant in a few months to celebrate her successful treatment. That won’t happen either. Right now, it feels like a nightmare and that it can’t be true, but we know that it is. And as bad as her friends feel, we know for her family it is much, much worse.

She is one more blood cancer victim. I pray we will have a cure soon, but it is too late for our friend. Apparently, she has had the myeloma for a very long time, and it got diagnosed much too late. It, and the leukemia, just took over her body starting about 5 weeks ago. It shows how important earlier detection is with cancer.

I don’t think I can write much more, other than to say it has been a pretty bad week, and a really awful last 24 hours. My usual upbeat personality has taken a beating lately.


Elayne said...

oh Art, my friend...I am so very sorry to hear this. I really do know what you are going through as this is almost exactly what happened with my brother-in-law Jim and father-in-law Ed.It is just hard.
I will keep you and her family and friends in prayer. Please know we are thinking of and praying for all of you.
your friend~ Elayne

Racn4acure said...

Thanks so much, Elayne. She did pass away late this afternoon. It is an awful thing and I hope that we will find future cures that will mean more people survive these horrible diseases. And in Judy's case, she needed a diagnosis many months ago to have a chance. It was too late when they found the problem just 4 weeks ago. Art

TNTcoach Ken said...

Art, sorry to hear about your friend. Just another example why we need to kick cancer's ass!

Hopesrising said...

Art I am so sorry to read this and I so agree we need faster ways to diagnosis. I lost a good friend a while back because they could not come up with what was going on. Then another friend who was a long time survivor of nhl. One I could see the suffering and the other I knew she was but to far a way to do much about other then be there to talk to her.
I have lost being upbeat simply because we work so hard to defeat this group of cancers . The losses keep happening. To hear some say this a good cancer...I so disagree its like any other cancer not caught its deadly.
Seeing a friend pass is a tough thing been there my heart and prayers go out to you, your wife and of course Judy's family.

Racn4acure said...

Thanks Ken - yep, we need to keep kicking its ugly butt, however it sure seems hard at time.

Kerry - thanks for your kind words. It feels so discouraging right now, but life goes on, and I am hopeful that by the time my four year old granddaughter is grown, cancer will be totally curable. There is no good cancer! Art