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Two weeks today

It is so surreal and I don’t know where to start, but I feel compelled to get back into this community. I’ve really struggled with sharing this here, but I know one thing for sure, there are a lot of good people here who are going through their own struggles, so I decided it was time.

On October 8th at 11pm, I lost my wife Karen to hepatocellular carcinoma, or primary live cancer.

Karen had not been feeling quite right for the last year, but it was subtle. She had back pain that would go away with a massage or two. She had tests done that saw polyps in her abdomen, but they were benign. They also saw irritation, so they treated her for gastritis but she still complained that she didn’t feel right, so they did an ultrasound and discovered a large tumor on her liver. This was mid-July.

They scheduled an MRI with contrast to determine if it was malignant, which it was, so off to the oncologist for bloodwork and a pet-scan. After analysis and confirmation at the Mayo Clinic, it was determined that she had many ‘hot’ spots throughout her liver, her uterus, a kidney and lymph nodes and her spine, the worse part was that it was very aggressive. They had seen changes in just 2 weeks time.

We were told she could try a very toxic chemo treatment that might gain her a couple of months, and radiation to help with back pain. We decided against that unless they could get her strength up.

She wanted to know more about clinical trials, but they told her she needed to get stronger in order to consider it.

We were referred to the head of Palliative care at Maine General and started to get meds for pain and nausea, which did not work at all. She couldn’t ingest water, let alone morhine, adavan, haldol, etc.

After numerous calls to the doctor, I made the decision to stop all meds and called the doctor about home health care or hospice. Karen was very frank and direct that she knew the inevitable and wanted to skip to the chase. After a lot of discussion about navigating the logistics, I called 911 and had her transported to the local hospital with the intention of taking her to the area hospice house the following day.

I can’t say enough about the facility, Androscoggin Hospice House in Auburn, Maine and the wonderful staff there. It was calm, homey and peaceful; exactly what Karen was looking for. Each room had a beautiful view with bird feeders right near the window. There was live music being played almost every day, and the nurses/doctors were spot on. There was a nurse practitioner who went way beyond her duties with Karen and sat numerous times with the family to discuss things with us. Her biggest concern, as Karen had told her, was the care for my father-in-law who is 93 and has dementia among other issues. This NP was aware that I had promised to continue taking care of him at home, which Karen and I have been doing for 3 years now. She offered help and advice on many occasions, which I am very grateful for.

Karen spent 31 days there. She had only fluids for 36 days. I am still awed by her strength.

I am glad she isn’t suffering anymore but I will miss her dearly for a very long time.

I am not posting this for sympathy, but for awareness. This whole ordeal has made me aware of a situation in our State about a legislative bill which is in the petition stage to allow terminally ill patients to die with dignity. I see a need for this bill to pass. In Karen’s case, she literally starved herself to death. I know she didn’t weigh more than 50 lbs when she finally passed. She spent many days at the hospice house very sick, frustrated and depressed that she couldn’t have it over with; even with the heavy doses of very strong meds.

Please take the time to reach out in your area and thank the hospice workers; they deserve a special place in heaven. Also, check what your State has for laws and be an advocate for those suffering with terminal illnesses. It’s unfortunate that it is so common these days.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and allowing me to vent a little. I'm doing okay, just taking it day by day, minute by minute. This Saturday we are having a celebration of her life with family and friends, which will be hard but helpful knowing how many people loved her.
 

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Chris,

I just read your post and can't tell you how sorry I am for you and your family. I'm at a loss for words.

My mother & father both fought cancer but we lost them to this disease many years ago. They were both very young when they passed.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Frank
 

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Oh my gosh. You have my deepest sympathies and prayers. I can't imagine the heartbreak you must be suffering.

I wish I could express all the emotions your post brought forth, but I can't. Know though, yours was a very powerful and moving post.
 

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This is sad to read because I am not sure how I could handle losing my wife. Lost my Mother and Brother to Cancer at times they think I have it then tell me nope was not there but keep looking? I can only say I have felt the pain of cancer and no words can make it easier to deal with only time helps. I will say nobody should have to go the way some have and doctors should help with more then just pain in the end. I know how my Mother went it was not right!
 

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Oh my gosh. You have my deepest sympathies and prayers. I can't imagine the heartbreak you must be suffering.

I wish I could express all the emotions your post brought forth, but I can't. Know though, yours was a very powerful and moving post.
Can't say anymore than this. My mom survived breast cancer. My best friend from high school lost his mom to pancreatic cancer.

These end of life issues are some of the toughest decisions to deal with. My wife's grandfather always said he didn't want to spend his last days like what you had to endure. I think it's a situation that you don't know how you'll react until you are in the moment.

It sounds like Karen was a strong woman, hopefully she was an inspiration to all.
 

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Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family ctrider.
 

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My prayers are with you. My dad started hospice a couple of weeks ago those folks are saints.
 

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Man that’s a hard read.....My prayers for you and your family. Lost my Dad to Lung cancer and it hard I know. I can’t imagine loosing my wife,,,, hope I go first. You vent, go ahead and vent with us anytime. Not sure what else to say. Prayers and thoughts for you
 

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ctrider--a human body is indeed very strong-as i witnessed that of my FIL's at his end. no feeding tube for almost 2 weeks-just maybe some ice chips. prayers for u and ur family.
 

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ctrider,

So sorry to hear this.

May peace and comfort find you during this difficult time.
 

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Oh My God. Our prayers go out to you and your family. I have lost 4 people to cancer. As has been said before, it sucks. Just remember all those people who love her, still do. Keep her in your hearts and minds, and she will be with you and loved, until you see her again. May God Bless You. Bill
 

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So very sorry to hear this, Thoughts and Prayers to you and your family. Just remember the good times and remember she is in a better place.

She is at peace and may God give you strength.
 

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So sorry for you loss. Know exactly what you mean about the dying with dignity situation from exerience with my mother. This needs to available to the terminally ill AND those with extreme, long term pain. May her strength be with you for the care of your FIL.
 

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Words just fail me for something like this. I can't imagine your feelings of loss. Karen sounds like such a nice lady, hard to understand why this scourge strikes such good people. Keep good thoughts and remember her as she was before all this. Sincere condolences to you.
 

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So very sorry for your loss, it was tough to read without a tear. I'm am lucky enough to honestly say that my wife truly is my best friend, as it sounds like Karen was too you, just couldn't imagine life without her. My deepest my sincere condolences go out to you.
 

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This is so utterly painful that I doubt any words I offer could comfort you. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss of your wife. You both showed strength and dignity.
I do agree that in these cases quicker relief should be available.
I have watched and been there for a few family members now and it is a tough thing.
 
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