Cancer is a very wretched and vicious disease. While advancements in medicine have paved a way off the road of a death sentenced to a second chance of life, many unfortunately have lost their battle with Cancer and my sister, Rose, was one of them. This is a very hard blog to write because it stirs up so many emotions. But I hope this blog will help someone who is battling Cancer or knows someone who has been diagnosed to never loose hope.
When It All Began
In March of 2019, one year after my sister and her daughter moved the Dallas Texas is when her journey with cancer began.
She was known for the limp in her walk that she sustained from an injury as a child. But despite her debilitating conditions, she was the most loving and jovial person to be around.
We were both Virgos and got along very well. We talked almost everyday; sometimes more than 2 times a day.
Most of our family are living in New York. This presented a challenging for us to be there for her like we wanted. Thankfully, her daughter and my niece who lived 4 hours from Dallas supported her throughout this ordeal.
My sister started complaining of excruciating pain that ran from her lower back down her leg. She lived with issues associated with a dislocated hip and arthritis most of her life and pain was not new to her. But this pain was out of the ordinary.
A Mass Was Found
Her Primary Health Care Provider could not diagnose what was causing so much pain. All they gave her were pain medications but the pain persisted.
The pain became so sever that she had to call the ambulance. She was taken to one of the local hospitals in Dallas. Xrays blood tests and MRI were conducted. A mass around her spine in the lower back was observed. This mass was speculated to be the contributing factor to her pain.
Her daughter explained that a procedure had to be performed in order to obtain a sample for testing.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
It was at the Texas Presbyterian Hospital that my sister was diagnosed with Cancer and received her first treatment.
The Emotional Turmoil Of A Cancer Diagnosis.
My world stopped and everything around me became silent when i first learned of my sister’s diagnosis with cancer. While this was not my fist experience with Cancer, the news devastated my family.
Despite our faith in God and his words, we still felt fearful, sadness, anxiety, depression, and experienced hopelessness. We had to rely on and trust the professional judgement of the Oncologists and medical team that provided care for her.
Procedure vs. Surgery
I immediately booked a flight and went to visit her. What i was told was a “procedure” for testing the mass turned out to be a surgery that resulted in a cut that was about 10-12 inches along side her lower back.
Chemotherapy and Wound Healing
Her Oncologist decided to start her on Chemotherapy even though she just had surgery. Because Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma Cancer is very aggressive and therefore treatment had be started right away.
One of the side effects of chemotherapy is that it weakens the immune system and consequently slows down the healing process of her wound. In addition, she was diagnosed with Prediabetes that further complicated her medical situation.
Physical Therapy Treatment.
Because of the surgery performed on her back, it affected her mobility. Her Physical Therapists helped her gained some mobility and strength in her legs, but was not enough for her to travel to New York to be with her family as planned.
A Chemo portal was installed in her chest into a large vein to administer the chemotherapy. This was said to be a more effective way to deliver the medications and chemotherapy treatments. However, the port was removed because of a suspected infection. But, she continued to experienced high fever.
Chemotherapy treatment came to a halt and antibiotics were prescribed.
In short, she went back on Chemotherapy. At this point her would was not fully healed. Her wound later became infected and a drain had to be inserted. This interrupted the timely scheduling of the chemotherapy treatment and the potential advancement of the Cancer. This situation became very complicated.
We were fighting two different wars: a fight against infection and slow wound healing and the fight against the cancer.
Health Insurance and Immigration Status.
My sister and her daughter were not US Citizens because they migrated to the US about 2 years prior. As green card holders, they did not qualify for medicaid or certain social programs.
The health insurance plan that my sister had was very crappy. As a result, the quality or care and duration of care were negatively impacted.
Health Care Facility Hopping
The health insurance plan only covered a certain length of stay at the Presbyterian Hospital. Therefore, she has to be placed in a nursing home facility for continuum of care.
After going through 3 other health care facilities, her situation got worse. The cancer had spread to her brain. Myself and 2 other family members flew in to see her.
So many emotions flooded my spirit as i watched my sister lay in the hospital bed deteriorating. But i had to try and be strong and prayerful. I would have done anything to make this go away. Feeling of hopelessness crippled my hope of things ever changing.
Unfortunately, the Cancer spread to her brain. As a result, it affected her bodily function and processes. Her memory, mobility and independence were greatly affected.
Chemotherapy was administered directly to mass on her brain to help slow the progression of the cancer, but was not effective. We could barely get a sentence out of her. But she never lost her beautiful smile; she would most often respond with a smile.
The End Of The Battle
Her Health Care Providers gave up hope. There was nothing else they could do. Consequently, she was transferred to a Hospice. 6 months after her Diagnosis and of fighting this deadly disease, she lost the battle to Cancer.
While this is one of the saddest experiences of my life. I had to face the reality that she is no longer here with us; no more calls , no more laughter and no more visits. However, I found comfort knowing that she is no longer suffering.
Two Of My Cooping Tools: Music and Prayer
These 2 videos below have helped me to remain prayerful and strong . They were often played for my sister to help her through her tough emotional roller coaster with Cancer.
8 Things That Cancer Taught Me.
Enjoy Your Life
People say life is short. But life is what you make it. Travel, explore the world and live your life as if its your last year. Take care of the physical as well as the mental health.
It’s Ok To Feel
Feeling sad, depressed, alone, anxious, or fearful are all normal part of human reactions to a tragic event. Finding ways to deal with these emotions will help you to not become immersed in them.
Prayer Changes Things
Prayer changes things: It puts you in a better mood, calms your inner turmoil and refocuses your belief of who is God.
You may question the existence of God, but let daily prayer realign you with your God.
Obtain A Good Health Insurance and Life Insurance.
If you have a family history of Cancer or any other medical condition, then keep this in mind when choosing a health insurance plan.
Will the plan cover certain treatments, long term care, or hospice care? Life insurance is necessary for everyone. Find a Good life insurance company such as Zander Term Life Insurance .
Having a will written is also very important as well.
Build a Good Support System.
family and friend support is very much needed as someone deals with a Cancer diagnosis. Gather family and friends with positive energy that can be there for you emotionally, and financially.
Designate a Health Care Proxy
Assign someone who is mentally capable of making decision on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. Express all your wishes and desires.
Question and Challenge Decisions.
You or a family member should question or challenge certain decisions that are made by your Health Care Providers. Some HCPs are so overwhelmed with patients. This sometimes can negatively affect the quality of care provided for your love ones.
Never Loose Hope
Your faith will be challenged, but never loose hope or faith. Even when the medical report says differently. Fight until you can’t fight anymore.