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12 days from diagnosis to death

By Nancy
Posted on

I had the conversation with my parent.

In rapid succession her condition became more concerning, having great trouble with breathing, pneumonia not responding to the antibiotics and breathing medications, and an x-ray revealed a mass.
My mother was an exceptional woman and in her later years had really hit her stride, becoming top salesperson for her company, running for and being elected to public office, finding great support and love in a spiritual community. When she was getting ready to turn 75, I asked about having a big party and she said no, some people don’t know my age and if I feel up to it, I will run again in two years to be re-elected to city council. She love being a councilwoman and serving her community.
One Saturday when I was out of town for work, I called to check on her and she indicated she was really sick, had a very hard time sleeping and breathing the night before. I called my husband who went over to check on her & took her to the Emergency Room. Upon my return that afternoon, I went to the hospital and she was admitted due to having pneumonia. In rapid succession her condition became more concerning, having great trouble with breathing, pneumonia not responding to the antibiotics and breathing medications, and an x-ray revealed a mass. It was decided she would have a bronoscopy to look into the lung and take a biopsy. Unfortunately the biopsy confirmed our worst fears — cancer. After the procedure the doctors reported she was having so much distress breathing we could lose her. this was only three days after she originally was admitted to the hospital. I was in shock, how could this transpire so quickly, what do we do? Since we didn’t have the full picture of the tumor, how large, malignant, what type of cancer or the full diagnosis. As an only child, and health care surrogate, I gave permission for intubation. In a few days, after attempts to reduce the tumor proved unsuccessful I asked that the breathing tube be removed. After intubation, I never was able to communicate with my mother, but because we had had numerous conversations about her wishes I was comfortable making that call. At a stressful and emotional time, I was so glad that my Mother has a living will, had discussed her wishes with me and I understood she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Thankfully, she also spoke about end of life wishes to her best friend and neighbor and sister, so I had some support from others that I was doing the right thing. Believe me, it is not easy but I knew I was honoring her.

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