Friday, January 7, 2011

The Final Stage

In the back of my mind, when she was having trouble taking a deep breath, I feared the worst. An X-ray and a CT scan confirmed my worries. "The cancer has spread to the lungs" hit like a ton of bricks when it came out of Dr. Stampleman's mouth.

Just a couple days ago at Stanford, Dr. Koong was talking about how remarkable mom has been and how he dare not cite statistics since she hadn't followed any of them anyway. Mom was put at the top of a list for a clinical trial through Stanford which sounded promising, if only a bit. It wouldn't start for another six months, and she'd have to maintain her weight and activity level, but it gave her hope and put a smile on her face. This was before metastasis. It's the one thing we all knew would come eventually, and frankly should have come two years ago.

Just yesterday we met with a representative from Hospice at the house. Mom wanted to just hear what they had to offer for when the time came. I have a feeling deep down she knew the time was now. Today the doctor's office will make the call to Hospice and mom will start her at home care. No more chemotherapy, just a big dose of acceptance. I think it's the first time I've shed a tear in a doctors office through this whole ordeal. The writing has been on the wall for months. She's had some really bad days, but then all of a sudden she's having a couple great days and you go back to thinking foolishly that she may just make it.

I don't know how long someone with metastasized pancreatic cancer can last without chemotherapy. I would venture to guess not long. It blows my mind how well she's done and how long she's persevered. Our mission now is to make her as comfortable as possible. Any time I have even an ounce of hesitation to do something for her or lose my patience in dealing with her issues, I think back to what she has done for me over the past 36 years and for Matt for the past 22, and Lexi for the past 17 years, and I realize there is no burden I could bear for her big enough to ever come close to what she has done for us.

Tomorrow the next chapter begins. Hospice. For what it's worth, mom seems very at peace with it all. She has been a part of the decision making and she's had final say in them all. She is tired and I think she is ready to be done fighting. We are all happy to know she is in no pain at all and we're told she will be pain free for the duration. The rest of us are another story. The real pain, I fear, is only just beginning. I realize we, her family, are not the only ones affected by this. I know there are many of you who would like to come say hi and give her hugs and prayers. I don't know how she is going to feel over the coming days and weeks. I would ask that if you would like to visit, please email me at and I'll see what I can do. No promises though.

Long overdue, is a giant thank you and words of appreciation to my sister Lexi who has been absolutely remarkable especially over the last year. Her patience and attention to mom has been key to her care and comfort. It's a job no 17 year old should have to do but she stepped up to the plate and handled it as best she could. She has more character and integrity than most people I know. It's hard to put into words my appreciation for what she has done especially in the times the rest of us couldn't be there. I've watched her grow up faster than any young woman should need to and become an amazing person. It's been a true trial by fire for her. Lexi, you are amazing, strong just like mom, and I love you.



Desi said...

Mark and Family,

I am so sorry for the hardship that is and has been going on in your life. You have all been a huge rock for me and I am so great full for the times I saw your mom at the Doctors office she showed me so much how strong I can be. Thank you, and I would love to visit with her if she would like. Thank you!!!! GOD BLESS

Jill said...

May the lord give you and your family a strength they never knew existed. Enjoy your time with her. All of you will be in my prayers.

maureen said...

this photo captures what words cannot say. God radiates through these two. we love you guys.

Deb Thorup and Family said...

It's a good thing this isn't paper, but then the keyboard shouldn't get wet from the tears either.

Your beautiful heart-felt writing has been a tremendous blessing, Mark to all of us.

A big Hug, Love, Blessings and continued prayers to you and the family from the Chico Thorups.


Jeanne said...

Your blog is aptly named Loraine's Journey, but I know it has also been a journey for all of you in her immediate circle. Thank you for sharing with others like me who only knew Lorraine peripherally many years ago. She is indeed a strong and wonderful woman. My prayers are with you all as Lorraine begins this last stage of her journey.proan