Friday, October 9, 2009

Linda T.


Linda's aunt arrived this weekend from Maine to visit with her. We gathered with a group of friends for a small lunch in Linda's honor. While we were chatting away Linda asked if we would promise to not tell her uncle that the cancer was just a ploy to get her aunt down for a visit. We all laughed and then Linda told us a few stories about what it is like to be dying. Every story she told was with a huge smile on her face. She is so happy to go on to the next world. She knows that the miscarriage that she had suffered years and years ago was a little baby that is now waiting to see her in heaven.

She told us that she doesn't want to leave her children but that she does want to get to heaven as soon as she can. She isn't sad, or scared. She is worried that most Catholics don't know God as the Father like they should. She wants me to get the word out on that. She says that his love is so incredible. She just wishes that we could feel like she does now. I think as she is dying she continues to grow stronger and stronger in her faith. It is not a way to live your life but our Catholic faith is the way to die as well. I sure am thankful for Linda and the lessons she continues to teach me.
"Every minute, another Blessing, God is good. GOD IS SO GOOD!"


"Hello loved ones. My last doctor's visit was on Tuesday, and the
news we received was a bit of a surprise.The tumors, especially the liver
cancer, continues to grow at much too fast a rate. My liver can not
process the chemo through my body, so that form of treatment is no longer an
option, and at this point, no other treatments remain.

I began Hospice this week and hope to be able to remain at home to the end,
which the doctors feel should be in the ball park of about 6 weeks.
Through hospice, I was able to get a much better and comfortable wheel chair
which helps me be a bit more mobile. Hospice also provides manicures,
massages, aroma therapy, hair cuts and color - I am going over the menu and
think I may try some."
These are Linda's own words from this weekend's posting on her site. Linda
had a wonderful weekend but is growing week and tired. She is showing some
signs of the end of life. She still remains joyful about heaven. She
reminds me not to be jealous but to be happy for her. I love this woman so
much and am so thankful for each minute I am blessed to share with

The Linda Saga
My heart is so heavy tonight. I have so many wonderful people in my life. So many of those wonderful people are suffering. One individual that means to much to me is my dear friend Linda T. She was feeling a little under the weather at the beginning of the summer. Then as summer progressed she started to have some pack pain. She thought she pulled something working hard for the swim team but it didn't get better. Then eating became a problem. She went to several doctors and eventually it was discovered that she has pancreatic cancer.

Linda is our cake fairy. When she discovered that my dear children didn't have homemade cakes on their birthdays she took it upon herself to be their cake bakers. She didn't want them to suffer with store bought cakes that were not baked with love. She was a busy working mother of two beautiful children herself but she never let the kiddos down. She tired new things out and had a wonderful talent at baking. Apparently at one time her family even owned a bakery. She was never a part of it, but knowing what to do with the eggs and flour was in her blood.

A few weeks into August Linda called me and said that she knew she was missing a birthday but she just felt so tired that she didn't think she could bake. The doctor told her that she wasn't able to eat much because she must have ulcers. She was growing a little worried that it might mean surgery. She had been on a liquid diet for a few weeks and was growing so weak and tired that she just wanted to get that figured out. I invited her to Pooker's graduation party that Friday that we were quickly throwing together. She apologized for not being able to bake a stellar cake for that party. I laughed and told her that she could still come, and she did. She looked weak and tired but she was there.

The next week she was in and out of a few doctors offices, having some test done. She was upset that the doctor wouldn't schedule her surgery over the phone. She needed to get this done so she could get back to feeling better. She was getting so weak that Larry took her to the appointment to receive the shock of their lives. Later she said that she worried it might be cancer but she was up for the battle. Never in her wildest dreams did she think that she would be told, "This is pancreatic cancer, it is in the advanced stages, there is little that can be done for this type of cancer, with the treatments it has a prognosis of about six months."

Larry called J. We were in Wal-Mart buying school supplies. The kiddos were at home enjoying there last few mornings before the school year started. J and I had been talking about his job and all the changes that had taken place. We were upset that he had not been considered for a promotion but happy that he still had work. We were upset about our own little things until the phone rang. J just turned pale and started passing. I immediately thought that was the call he feared, I worried that he had just been let go. He hung up and grabbed me with my eyes filling up. "That was Larry.", he said. I was relieved, Larry couldn't fire him. J proceeded to tell me that Linda and Larry were sitting in the doctors office trying to process what they had just discovered.

We gave them time to get home, tell their kiddos, and react as a family. We went over a little later to hug our dear friend, her husband and her children. Sugar went with us, she was good friends with Linda's 18 year old and she needed to see her as well. Everyone was in tears except Linda. She said that she would have surgery next week to fix her stomach issues. She felt like she could fight things better if she could eat real food again soon.

Her husband was crushed and reminding God that Linda has always served Him well. We have been friends with this family for the last seven years. They live in our neighborhood, she volunteers for the Cuda team, they are always running fund raisers for the various parishes that they are in, she hosts a killer neighborhood light viewing adventure at Christmas. She was only in her mid-40's. At the beginning of all these she wondered f she was pregnant and then sad that wasn't the case. She is too young to hear this kind of news. She is too active. She means too much to too many people for this to be real.

We have sat and prayed with this woman and her family. We have shared life secrets and deepest fears. She will now come face to face with death. Yet when speaking with her just hours after being told, I was amazed at the joy of life that I saw. I was so inspired by her peace and desire to enjoy her children over the next few months. She mentioned that this was so much better than getting hit by a bus. She planned to contact the priest and have the Sacrament of the Sick. She felt so blessed to have the time to let her children know that she didn't want to leave them but it was happening. She would pray for a miracle but was praying for heaven just as much.

Linda is through with her surgery. Her surgeon was able to give her the ability to eat back. Now the worry would go back to the cancer. It didn't look good. She needed to wait a few weeks to heal from surgery before she could do anything about the cancer. She wanted to enjoy the time not worrying about the other too much. The surgery went well but also confirmed the diagnosis. It was bad. The tumors were large and in other organs. Her stomach was blocked by a tumor and that was why she couldn't eat. They killed some nerves so hoping to dull some of her back pain. She felt pressure but not as much pain. The surgeon wept with them. They had hoped for good news but there wasn't much in that way to share. recovery took longer than she hoped. She didn't leave the hospital until 9-2. She was thrilled to eat again though. Slow at first but we were all thankful that things were working again.

She has now met with a few doctors and has chosen a course of action. She would be going to MD Anderson and was invited to try a study. Her chemo would begin the next week and she looked forward to a nice long battle. She liked that the study was close and that it wouldn't take up too much time. She began to worry about the family trip that was scheduled though. She wasn't sure if she could make it to Maine.

This was a crazy weekend and didn't go as she had planned. After a blood clot swelled her leg she spent some time at the hospital. They changed some of her medication. They ran some more tests. On Tuesday she was told that the cancer was growing so fast that she wouldn't be able to do that study anymore. She needed to be hit hard with something and the study chemo wasn't strong enough. Wednesday she got the strongest dose they could deal out. The process wasn't too bad for her and she looked forward to how she might feel after the down time. Give me a few days and we can get some stuff done. I should have some time where I feel better and have more energy.

I sat with her on her bed today. She was tired and weak. She was still positive but tired. I thought she was supposed to be feeling better by now but it was a very strong dose she got on Thursday. She would go back the next week to determine what course to take from there. Hopefully she would have another round of chemo on the following Tuesday.

I loved the time we had just talking. I got to watch her grow very weak from lying in bed and engaging in conversation for two hours. I got to watch her try to be patient with her six year old son but loose it as he whined for dinner. I watched her lovingly talk with her husband about dinner and then turn on him with anger because he wasn’t home already. I talked with her about a memorial service she wants to be invited to. She wants us to hear the good things that people might say about her. I listened as we discussed the joy of heaven and the fear of not getting there.

It was my honor to sit with her and have this conversation. She is really not doing well and won’t be with us long. Maybe Christmas, probably before. While sitting there, I am ashamed to admit, but I was so glad that I wasn’t needed to take care of her physically. I know she would and will turn on me when her pain is high. I fear that it will grow harder and harder to sit with her. I also know that it is my gift from Him to be able to do it. We are called to be Christ to others especially the sick and dying.

It wasn't a good weekend at all, she never felt better. The next week she was still tired and sore. This was not a good sign. She called her mom from the hospital to say that they were now worried that her liver wasn't processing anymore and she was becoming toxic. Now it might be weeks, not months. Larry feels so cheated. I agree with him. I don't want my friend to suffer but it has only been a few weeks here. The plan was we would wait until he appointment on Tuesday. She might be better and get some chemo. That was our hope. We didn't share the news to anyone else because we were not sure yet.

Please pray for this woman and her family!

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