This is my own story of life with advanced ovarian cancer. I do not offer medical advice, and my treatment decisions are my own. Please talk to your physician or healer and gain as much information as you can about this dreadful disease called cancer. Remember, knowledge is Power!

Monday, April 25

In The Sky

Hello Blogosphere,

This is Melissa, Patty's daughter. My Mom passed peacefully yesterday afternoon around 3:45pm. She has been incredibly dedicated to being open with details about her life and her dealings with cancer. I am not an expert, nor am I as intimately acquainted with everything as she was. I do not know the majority of you guys, but will do my best here. 

Her last post on April 7th was made from a hospice facility. I can't remember how long she was there, but she did go home from there and my Grandma continued her care, as she had been doing. No one could ask for a better or more dedicated caretaker or Mom than my Grandma. The last few weeks were weeks of general decline in her physical health. Weight loss was dramatic. I don't know how many of you know my Mom in real life, but she is a true Amazon warrior woman. 5'11, broad shoulders, with a happy weight of about 180. She was down to about 100 pounds. For those of you who were also friends with Jayne over at Shopping Kharma, there was a picture that she had posted where her pain pump was incredibly large underneath her skin. My Mom was similarly small in the last few days. The pain was at a point that eating had become an impossibility. The last two weeks my Mom had been completely sustaining herself with Coke and Smart Water, as they were the only two things she could stomach. 

As far as medical going-ons, she had the colostomy bag placed sometime in January, if memory serves. I know she wrote about it, naming it Stella :) In addition to that, another bag was connected to the PEG tube to collect stomach contents. My Mom would sit there sipping on water and would laugh as it went down her throat and then, a few seconds later, out the tube. She said in her last post that the tumors secrete their own fluids, and I believe (though again, I am not a medical professional) that this bag was also there to collect this fluid, as it was a primary cause of the overwhelming nausea. A few days ago she also had a Foley catheter placed, as getting out of bed became too difficult. 

Last Tuesday, the 19th, her bed was replaced with a nursing home style bed. Getting into a position that was comfortable was becoming more difficult, and the bed allowed her to more easily get into a comfortable position. So, we're getting caught up now. If you're still reading, you're a saint! One thing I did not learn from my Mom was brevity. Mentally, we could see her becoming a little less connected to the world. She began to sleep long hours, though sleep is a word I use loosely, as it was more of a heavily-medicated rest. I don't know anything about exact dosage, but I do know that both the methadone and the dilaudid were increased by the members of her hospice team to try to keep her pain under control. Saturday night was a long one. Her anxiety up to that point had been increasingly extreme. My Mom was upset, nervous, worried. My Mom was uncomfortable, tired, in pain, and was incredibly agitated.  The night was spent around her bed, with us holding her hands, stroking her hair and telling her we loved her. 

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, was more peaceful. Hospice came in sometime early, in the wee hours, and she was given Haldol, a strong anti-anxiety medication, to try to help her relax and to rest. The Haldol worked, and gave her a little more peace, giving her the chance to actually rest. At that point, it was just waiting. My Grandma, her Mom, was at the head of the bed holding her hand, and myself, one of my Uncles and my Aunt were around the bed as well. We were all holding her, making sure she was comfortable. While she was sleeping we all watched her breathe and around 3:45 she took her last breath. Everything was as she wanted. It was very peaceful. 

This blog has been something so important. My Mom was dedicated to sharing her life and her experiences, both as a means of release and as a documentation of her trials with cancer. The support, love and friendship that she gained from this blog were of tremendous importance to her. All of your thoughts, words, prayers and vibes have been received by her and by our family. Thank you for loving her and supporting her, for being there for her and for us all. We are all truly blessed to have known Patty in whichever way we knew her and now, she is out of pain and, I have no doubt, is already up in the sky having a party with those that passed before her. 

I have been asked about donations by a few people. If anyone would like to make donations in her name, please make them to Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix, AZ. 

Thank you again for all of your love and support. 


Thursday, April 7

Down the rabbit hole

I've been in the hospice facility for the last 7 days trying to get my nausea and vomiting under control. Evidently, we've done all we can so I'm going home. We can do at home what we've done here, and I'm just sick of being here. It's taken me 3 days to get this post up, being as loopy as I am. We had to increase my pain meds again, because my pain from the nausea and vomiting is gonna do me in. The doc tells me that for as much as we are doing, it's not really going to help. Tumors themselves excrete their own fluids and hormones that cause nausea, and I have a lot of tumor activity going on in my abdomen. I haven't really eaten in weeks and I've lost so much weight.

There is a lot more on the issue of "going home". My time is getting shorter, I feel. I'm not being dramatic, I'm being real. My pain has increased, my vital signs fluctuate a lot, I have some new arrhythmia on my heart, my blood pressure is all over the place. And the fact that we had to increase my pain meds to the point that I'm so loopy I can barely get out my morning Facebook "hey, I'm alive" post- decreasing awareness of my surroundings and who is there. It's weird. I can feel it; time slipping away, me slipping away. Part of it may be from sitting in this little room at hospice. I'm lonely and bored, and we spend all damn day either medicating me, cleaning up vomit, or messing with my PEG tube. I'm tired.

My son has had all he can take. How do you say good bye? He knows my death is imminent; it's just not happened yet and the strain shows on him. He's doing terrible in school, and no wonder. Sometimes I wish it would just happen and be done with it so everyone could deal with it and get on with their lives. I hate dragging things out. I've had a lot of bad days, can you tell? They happen much more frequently than the good days. I've almost forgot what good days are like. I really miss food. Man, what I wouldn't give for a big sloppy cheeseburger. I'll quit whining now. Don't know how many more posts I have in me but when I'm lucid enough I'll post.
Love to all,

Friday, March 25

Happy Birthday To Me

Well, I made it to the big 5-0. Woot! This is also my 2 year Cancer-versary. yay me.

Things have been going ok, I guess. My hospice team is absolutely wonderful, and take care of my every need. I have good days and bad days. I've cut down on my pain meds so I can think clearly, but not enough to let the pain in too deeply. That's always there. 

I've been very sad about Jane's passing. It's been on my mind a lot. We never know how much time we have, or what will try to trip us up along the way. I'm just fighting to stay well. You've heard the term "she took to her bed and never left it again". On my bad days, that's what I feel like. Bad days consist of puking and sleeping all day. I've lost almost 50 lbs. in the last 3 months. My butt is completely gone, my breasts are . . . well, just not my breasts any more. Sigh...  Now, I really look sick. It's hard for me to eat more than 4 bites of anything. I've started the tube feeding, but that isn't agreeing with me. I had a total puke fest yesterday after half a can of "supplement". 

The good thing is that today we're all taking a road trip to San Diego! I'm so excited! My whole family and my best friend are going. Everyone is running around madly packing things and trying to make room for all my medical equipment and my drugs. It's a big load. I've been waiting for this trip for so long. I'm returning to the place of my childhood (Coronado) and sticking my feet in the surf at sunset.

So.. wish me luck on my trip, I'll try to update next week. I hope everyone is happy and having good days. Love to all-

Tuesday, March 8

Remembering Jayne

Jayne was a beautiful, wonderful, inspirational woman who wrote a blog called Shopping Kharma.  She'd been battling this fucking ovarian cancer for 10 years and it's so hard to believe she is gone. I've cried buckets of tears for her and her husband Jimmy. Jayne was so helpful to so many people. She spoke her mind, and shared a lot of her life with us. She loved her husband deeply and would write about him a lot. Her words really moved me, and she will be missed terribly. If you're the praying kind, please send some up for Jimmy and those who loved her. Goodbye, Jayne. You were so loved. Thank you for all you did for me. You are a true angel.
I loved you.

Friday, March 4

Hi friends of Pateeta, it's Melissa, her daughter. My Mom is sitting next to me so I will type her words.

She had surgery on the right lung to drain fluid. It was the same that was performed on the left, the Talc pleurodesis. While the doc was in there, he did remove a tumor that had metastasized from the diaphragm. So, there WAS metastases to the lung.
She's in a lot of pain, and is having trouble breathing on the right side. She is hitting her pain button a lot, and is all tangled up in tubes and pissed off about it. She just wanted to update. She says if she gets out of here, the party is this weekend. She (and me too!) Says thank you all for your love and support.

I will update as I am asked to. Ginny, if you want to come she is on the ICU at Good Sam.

Love to all,

Thursday, March 3

Back At The Ranch

Also known as the hospital. The hospice Xray dude came yesterday to check out my right lung and it showed moderate pleural effusion on the right lung and small effusion on the left (which had already been fixed). Waiting for admission to get a bed for me.I'll keep you postedp

Monday, February 28

Loaded For Bear

Methadone 10 mg- (liquid for oral or PEG tube)  0.7mg 3 times per day
Dilaudid 10 mg- (liquid for oral or PEG tube)  0.8mg, up to every 3 hours as needed
Mediclophan (nausea gel) apply topically 4 times a day
Lidocaine patch- 12 hours on, 12 hours off
Colace 2 tabs twice a day
Ditropan 1 tab twice a day
Warfarin 1 tab once a day
Celexa 1 tab once a day
Albuterol treatment by nebulizer- as needed 2-4 times per day
Xanax 10mg as needed for anxiety
Ambien 10mg as needed for sleep
My schedule is still a little wobbly, but it's all getting in there. If I didn't keep track of it, no one could.

Tuesday, February 22

I wanna talk about....


I haven't talked about hospice, or much of anything lately. It's a full time job to properly medicate myself all day. But hey, I can multi-task! Right this minute I'm having an albuterol treatment in my new nebulizer. It's also taken me about a week to pull this post together.

The word "hospice" is a pretty scary word to most people. Some immediate thoughts upon hearing the word "hospice" are DEATH! DYING! KICKIN' THE BUCKET! (ok, that one was mine). But I chose hospice because treatment for my cancer was not working any more, and the cancer is spreading. I am in a totally new Place. I'm soaking up all these new feelings since I signed that one little orange paper. I'll save that for later.

I have my own hospice team. I have a doctor that makes house calls. She is amazing! I have a RN case manager, "A", who oversees all my care and stops by once or twice a week. I have another RN, "L", who covers when A is out. I have a phlebotomist, "R", that comes by and draws my blood once a week. I have a social worker, "N", who takes care of my head, and everything and everyone around me. She brings me flowers.

My hospice is a not-for-profit organization so all of my care not covered by state insurance is taken care of. I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful they all are. Just when you think there couldn't possibly be any more they could offer you, they're back with a massage therapist for my lymphedema. Their pharmacy delivers day or night. My oxygen and supplies are delivered round the clock. A couple weeks ago I said "I have a swollen ankle". An hour later there was an ultrasound tech at my house checking me for DVT.

They really listen to me. They are all about me and my pain and my feelings and my children and our comfort. I have not had a bad experience or weird vibe from anyone I've met through hospice. God, what did I do to deserve this kind of loving, kind, compassionate care? I am blessed beyond belief.


Wednesday, February 16

Look quick! She's lucid!

Hey, sports fans! As usual, I'm heavily medicated so I'm unsure as to what will come rolling out of my mouth (or fingertips, I should say.) And my fingertips are all cracked and bleeding again- reaction to all the meds? Maybe, but they hurt like big dogs, and have put a serious damper on doing things like typing, texting, buttoning buttons, and all that other mundane things you use your fingers for. 

Anyway- I am back at home again. They cut me loose yesterday after pulling the chest tube. Remember how I was getting my panties in a wad over the ventilator thing? When I woke up from the surgery (which only took about an hour), I wasn't even ON a vent. Apparently, after about an hour in the recovery room, my poor little abused, flooded, twice-drained, and newly powdered lung was inflating on its own and they pulled the tube before I even woke up. How's THAT for shits and giggles? Unreal. 

So now I'm perched on my very own cushy bed (minus the awesome little raise-the-head feature like in the hospital) and updating y'all. I'm pretty sore, having been punctured by chest tubes 3 times in a week, but I'm HERE. I did develop some edema in my feets and legs, and am wearing some TED hose to the knee. My legs now look like Brunhilde the shot-putter's legs. No offense to Brunhilde or shot-putters, but my legs are one of my best features. (like modesty). 

One of my new meds is LASIX. A pretty powerful diuretic (?) that has me up scrambling for the new commode that sits so attractively next to my bed. By the new oxygen pump. I almost feel like I could open up my own durable medical equipment store with all the new stuff I have. I'm waaaaaay whacked out with Methadone, dilaudid, still on bladder meds, now diuretics, stuff to eat, sleep, shit, you name it- I've got it. 

I am one lucky girl and there is definitely someone way up there looking out for me. Him, plus my family, friends, blogger buds, FB buds, neighbors, and about another 10,000 people known and unknown to me. I am a BELIEVER in the power of positive thought, prayer and love. Thank you all so much for pulling me (once again) out of the pit and holding me up. I love you all so much.

Friday, February 11

Last Ditch Surgery

So it's 7:45 here in hospital land. Things are starting to move, however slowly.and I'm typing on my phone again so this will take awhile.

My surgery is scheduled at 1. The plan is to get some kind of powder into the pleural space so it can dry it up and seal it. Doesn't sound too difficult. The thing that bothers me is that I will be on a ventilator for a few days. I know that this is part of the treatment and recovery so I'm not wiggin out over it. It's the possibility of a longer intubation that is on my mind. A one to two week intubation was brought up, which goes against my DNR wishes.

There has been much discussion over this. I am giving it a 14 day maximum limit on the vent. My family will keep you all updated.

Thursday, February 10

Not Much Time

Hi guys- got lots to say but not much time to say it all. I'm pretty heavily medicated so my lucid moments are becoming fewer and further between. I am on home hospice now but am posting from the hospital.

Anyway, lots of new stuff has happened. I finally got a total bowel obstruction and am the proud owner of a colostomy bag. My stoma is named Stella. I have a PEG tube that I was only using for my liquid methadone and dilaudid. I am now on oxygen, on 4 Litres. I have a big pump type thing that lives in my closet because it's noisy. It has a bubbler (for moisture) and there is always water in the line. I have a portable tank that's on the little trailer-pulley thing that just makes me want to go to the casino, ya know? There are always those little old ladies in there playing the slots, dragging their oxygen tubes and puffing on their cigarettes. gross!

What I'm working on now is fluid in my lungs. I came in to the hospital last week after hospice sent a home x-ray dude to the house because I was getting short of breath. The x-ray showed that I had 2 litres of fluid on my left lung. I went through a procedure where a chest tube was stabbed through my ribs and hooked up to a pump/ container thing to collect it. On Sunday, the drainage stopped so they took out the tube and sent me home. The x-ray dude came back on Tuesday and lo and behold, I had another 2 litres of fluid on the same lung. Back to the hospital for the same procedure- to drain the lung.

I've just spoken with the surgeon/pulmonologist/ hospice docs, and God's Army, and we've decided to do a procedure tomorrow called a Talc Pleuro-desis. You can look it up cuz I'm too exhausted to.

Things are getting close, my friends. I can feel it. I have signed a DNR (do not resuscitate) at my last hospital visit (with the bowel obstruction. I don't know a whole lot right now, except things are escalating- my body giving out, a lot of things. It's a weird feeling. I know this post is disjointed, rambling, whatever, but that's how i feel most of the time. My daughter will update for me when the time comes.

I just want to say to you all; I really love you. You've all helped me so much, in getting through my treatments, procedures, recoveries, etc.  I am so grateful to you. I do know that God can step in and change things at any time, but I'm also a realist. I'm not even gonna proofread this before I hit send cuz otherwise I'd be spending all day on it.

If you know me on Facebook, there's where you get the "morning update", meaning, if I say good morning- it means that I woke up.

I don't know where else to go with this, but here's the skinny. Say a prayer for my family, my children, my friends, and others who love me, will you? I think they need it more than I do.
I love you

Saturday, January 22

Oh, Daria

Our blogging community has lost another beautiful soul. Daria from Living With Cancer passed away today. Daria was so helpful to me and others facing this cruel disease. She will be sorely missed. Please, say a prayer for Daria and those who loved her.

Wednesday, January 19

A Little Time

Hi guys-
It's gonna take me a little time to pull my thoughts together to be able to update all that's happened in these last crazy couple of weeks. But the quickie update now is that I'm home from the hospice facility. And driving my mom crazy for not letting her "do" everything for me. Sorry, Mom! Love you!

And all of you- thanks for sticking my me.

Friday, January 14

To Hell And Back

This will be brief, i dont have my laptop and im exhausted.

Was released from the hospital today after a 13 day stay. Major complications occurred, and i and everyone else thought I was going to die yesterday. Transferred to hospice facility today to get a home plan started on Monday. That's all I've got for now but i am so grateful for my loving family, friends and God for pulling me through a very dark place and letting me have another beautiful day on this earth.

Friday, January 7

Like A Lead Balloon

That's what my stomach feels like. I had my upper GI series yesterday where I glugged down at least a litre of barium. I don't know how I did it, only being able to take small sips of anything, but I was determined to NOT get the NG tube down my nose. It took over 4 hours for this test. I'm sure it would've been quicker, but when your bowels aren't working properly then they can't push the barium through. About 3 hours into the test they told me to lie on my stomach to get another view. It had been over 4 hours since my last pain and nausea meds so I was hurting pretty badly by then, but you'd have thought they were murdering me in there by the tortured screams that came from within. The radiologist called for a nurse to dose me with more pain meds so we could finish the test, and my momma came down from my room where she'd been waiting for hours. They let her come in and hold my hand and calm me down. Thank God for my momma.

It's been about 18 hours since I drank the barium and it's still not moving anywhere. Last night I vomited, but only bile. I still can't have a bowel movement. This morning I got a new wristband with my blood type and other cryptic information. Surgery today is a definite possibility. I spoke with the GI guy, the surgeons, the gyn/onc and the chaplain. If they decide to go in to check out/resolve the bowel issue, it's very possible I'll leave here with a shiny new colostomy bag, and maybe a PEG tube for feeding.

It distresses me how fast this is happening. I mean one minute I feel fine, and the next minute I'm in the fucking hospital AGAIN for something else. My kid came home on Sunday night and I've barely been able to see him since then, except here at the hospital when my mom brings him up after school or after dinner. I know all this is freaking him out. My daughter lives 3 hours away without a dependable car so she's not able to be here right now. 

As far as surgery goes, I'm all for it if it will resolve these bowel issues, but that's it. I know it will not help my cancer. Hopefully, I will be considered a good surgical candidate for open abdominal surgery again. I always had a quick recovery before, without post-op complications. But things are different now. I'm on blood thinners, my cancer has spread, and I am just not the Amazon Girl I used to be.

One of the surgical residents just came in to talk to me. He told me they'd be sending down a team to start marking me for possible PEG tube and/or shit bag colostomy placement. Looks like I may be having surgery today, after all. Pray for me, please.

Tuesday, January 4

All Out Mutiny

Someone, please make it stop. I was admitted to the hospital again yesterday with unresolved abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. I'm waiting on consults from a G.I., another GYN/onc, and a surgeon. My CT scan yesterday revealed that I now have a few small bona-fide obstructions, in different places. I can actually point to the exact places on my belly where the problems are.
My clinical trial is now on hold, until and unless I can get these mutinous bowels moving.

AARRGG! Fuck off, you scabrous dogs! Belay that guff and GIMME BACK MY BELLY!

Saturday, January 1

Passing Me By

Hello, my friends! I've been down and out for awhile so I am not caught up on everyone yet, but I hope you all had a safe, healthy and happy holiday.

Christmas passed me by this year, as I argued yet again with hospital dietary that I am a VEGAN, and to stop sending me chicken dinners and milk. I finally had to surrender. The first solid food I had was strained cream of chicken soup on Sunday night. Hey, it was Christmas. And it was delicious.  I came home from the hospital on Monday, still blurry but feeling better. I actually felt great on Tuesday and Wednesday- (hurry! look! it's Normal Girl!) God, what a feeling that was. My mom and I ate like kings as a celebration. (bad move)

I hardly know where I've been since Thursday morning. My bowels locked up on me again, I couldn't force down more than a few sips of water at a time, and I've been sleeping so much. To top it off, I ran out of morphine. I had (fuzzily) thought earlier in the week that I'd probably be having appointments this week and could get my refills then, but somehow I fell down the rabbit hole again and it got overlooked. I tried calling  5 different doctors on Friday but everyone was already gone for the holiday weekend. Hey! What about me?

I finally got a lucid moment. I'm trying to hunker down for these next couple days and double up on the dilaudid. I'm taking my laxatives and softeners and milk of magnesia and enemas and trying to sip on the miserable crap that passes for nutritional supplements. As you can see, I am desperately trying to avoid going to the hospital again. My kid gets back home tomorrow and starts school on Monday. 

I got preliminary stats on my PET scan- there is new stuff showing up in the abdominal/navel area. I swear, I felt those growing. One of my oncologists said if we can't get my bowels in order then I can't do the clinical trial, and/or I may have to have bowel surgery first or instead. Last week I transitioned from the coumadin (pill) to the lovenox injections for my blood thinner. I am not thrilled about this at all but I'm supposed to be off coumadin for 12 days before I can start the clinical trial. This Monday will be the 13th day, so I'm ready. I really gotta get my shit together. Too much is passing me by.