Health and Cancer – Family Doctor and Stage 4 Cancer Symptoms On Health Challenged Mother with Diabetes
I have done absolutely everything to put off writing this entry. One of the most difficult subjects to discuss is cancer; perhaps more perplexing than fertility issues. For generations, people even avoided saying the word. Some would whisper it; my mother’s mother would call it “that lovely disease,” while my mother would say the word with her chin to her chest, eyes downward.
Phase 1: My Diabetic Father in the Emergency Room With Slipped Disc
Years ago I worked at a hospital with a top professor of medicine and one day, one of my closest friends phoned to tell me that her father was in the emergency room from the night before. He fell in his bathtub and an ambulance rushed him to the hospital where I worked. Two weeks prior, he was in the ER with severe back pain and the doctors told him he had a slipped disc and sent him home with strong non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s). She asked if my professor could take a look; they had done a CT scan and nobody had seen him since. I asked my professor to look at the case. He walked into the room where we worked together and shook his head. He said, “It is no slipped disc; the man has cancer everywhere and will die, perhaps in two weeks’ time.” Knowing this I kept silent and waited for the doctors to break the news to his family. I tried to give my friend support but did not want the responsibility of bearing such fateful news; I preferred to leave the dirty work to someone else.
Insult to Injury: My Mother Gets First Signs of Cancer!
Next month will mark two years since my mother’s passing. For over a year before she died she complained constantly of severe pain and feebleness. She would lie on the sofa and walking from one room to the next in my parents’ small apartment would leave her winded and dizzy. She developed dark circles under her eyes and I recognized some cancer symptoms and suspected some kind of cancer but did not speak my mind. My mother was constantly going to doctors and having tests done. I don’t remember how many. All they kept telling her was that everything was fine. May she rest in peace, my mother, of Blessed Memory, was an extremely intelligent woman and kept saying “If everything is fine, why do I feel this way?”
Phase 2: My Diabetic Mother in the Hospital
One day, my sister sent me an SMS that my father was in the hospital and that the following day he would have an angioplasty to implant a stent. As I read the SMS in the office where I worked at that time, I remember saying, “I will sit shiva this year.” People scoffed and said “for an angioplasty you’ll sit shiva?” I replied “not for my father; for my mother.” December 6th of 2009 my mother had a lot of pain and my father took her to the doctor who saw that she was very yellow. The doctor told her “No!” and ordered her to rush immediately to the emergency room! As my father drove her, she told him in the car “Chanan, I’m closing basta (shop).”
Pancreatic Cancer: The Growth That Keeps on Giving
The days that followed were pure hell. The doctor said she had a cancer (pancreatic) that could not be treated and I told him the story of my friend’s father. He nodded and said that they would do further tests to see if they could remove the growth in its entirety. They actually did go in on two occasions to try to implant a biliary stent through the stomach and beginning of the small intestine but the papilloma (growth) was too thick and large to get through.
I kept thinking that my mother was slowly becoming an invalid; this was part of my denial, I guess. In fact, with stage 4 cancer, she was walking to death’s door, one step at a time. Finally the doctors said there was nothing they could do and when they were asked how much time she had, they said it could be weeks. I took my sister aside and crying uncontrollably told her that from what I observed the past 24 hours I had spent with her, we would have a week’s time. She was released and unfortunately I was right; a week after that, G-d took back her soul.
Chronic Illnesses and Coming to Terms With Mother’s Death
I know she suffered. She was sick for many years with a myriad of chronic ills such as diabetes, heart complications; at one point she had a hemmorage in one eye. She was on every prescription drug known to man. If this woman did bad things in her life, she certainly paid for them with all her suffering! It was heartbreaking to see her waste away. She had lost 30 pounds in 2 weeks with no special change in diet.
When You Cannot Help with Medicine, All You Can Do is Watch Ones Health Deteriorate
All my education seemed worthless as I watched helplessly. It is no secret among healers and doctors of any discipline that one cannot advise one’s parents or any relatives, for that matter. They often do not listen and mine were no exception. No matter how much I begged and pleaded, explaining time and again that walking every day would improve their health or that they should ask their family doctor about alternative healing treatments, my efforts were met with laughter and rolling eyes. Once it was already too late to do much of anything, my parents asked me what I could do.
This was a firsthand close up experience with cancer. I pray to never see it again. If I were to advise in general terms I would say to increase awareness, take things in moderation and see where you can make adjustments in your lifestyle to improve your health.