It’s been a little over a year since mom passed away from cancer, and I miss her more today than ever. Although it’s hard, I will share some of my experiences being by my mom’s side as she battled cancer and some of the things I learned along the way.
I have always been a truth-seeker, sometimes to my detriment, but being such, I have learned how corrupt most systems are in the world today. Without exception is the medical and pharmaceutical industry. As I saw my mom go through the misdiagnosis and then a diagnosis of cancer to Chemotherapy treatment (which suppresses the immune system), onto Immunotherapy (which boosts the Immune System) at Cleveland Clinic it eventually became clear to me how complicated the cancer industry is today.
To say the least, I was devastated when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer on May. 1 2017. It was found in a biopsy on her collar-bone after the physician’s assistant six months earlier had said that it was nothing to worry about. But mom had a gut feeling and scheduled an appointment to see her ENT specialist, and after some tests, the Doctor said it was indeed cancer but not the source.
After many more tests and some confusion between doctors, it was confirmed that she had a rare form of bladder cancer called Adenocarcinoma. Because of problems she had been experiencing, she had surgery at Wheeling hospital to remove blockages and part of the tumor in her bladder. Wheeling Hospital advised Cleveland Clinic to treat cancer, so we scheduled an appointment, and we prayed.
When we arrived at Cleveland Clinic for the first time, we met some wonderful people with caring and compassionate hearts, from nurses to receptionists. Dr. Garcia was her oncologist from Bogota, Columbia, and wore a flashy watch, clothes, and shoes and exuded a suave demeanor. He was at the top of his field and had an enthusiastic confidence about him. I believe his intentions were good but not always clear on the direction and felt that he was influenced by the money, power, and responsibility of his position.
I developed an intense interest in cancer, the causes, history, and treatments. I soon realized how toxic and dangerous chemotherapy drugs are and how rarely they ever helped anyone. They were developed from leftover mustard gas from WWII, and little had changed in their development over the last 50 years. For decades, I also discovered that very powerful people were involved in funding universities and placing people of their choosing onto the board of directors at these same institutions. These people also had considerable shares in major pharmaceutical companies, universities, and even hospitals. That possibly, these organizations and individuals have darker intentions other than just making money hand over fist. I also learned that most doctors were just pones in the game. Most only know what the universities that are funded by these powerful people who indirectly dictate the curriculum geared toward profit and create customers for big pharma. Not only that, but that these doctors get direct monetary kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for prescribing chemotherapy drugs that are backed by the same companies.
By no means am I saying that the medical community and pharmaceutical companies haven’t developed some fantastic treatments for various infliction and ailments? There are some amazing, loving, caring, honest, and compassionate people in the medical field with the truest of intentions doing everything in their power to help patients live longer with a better quality of life.
I also witnessed that so many people were having success with natural modalities, and I read a library of books about the subject. So after many hours of research, we began implementing some of these natural modalities. We started juicing every day and cutting out sugar, dairy, and any processed foods, but mom wanted to continue Chemotherapy because of the fear of going against the medical establishment.
I continued researching, and we added turkey tail mushroom extract, barley grass, alkaline water, coral calcium. Selenium, PH testing, lime water, turmeric, and probiotics to her regimen. After running into a friend who told me about CBD and Cannabis oil. She did well, which helped her appetite, urination, sleeping, mood, and overall pain tolerance
During this time, she started receiving experimental immunotherapy for her bladder cancer since she was not tolerating the chemo, which honestly killed her. I discussed the CBD and some of the alternative treatments with her oncologist, and he said he had no problem with mom trying then but paid little attention and felt they were useless. I was shocked to learn how little the mainstream medical community used naturopathic medicine and placed minimal importance on a diet.
Mom continued treatments at Cleveland Clinic while I focused on homeopathic medicine at home. Mom had a hard time sticking to the CBD regimen. The therapeutic doses reaching 1 gram a day of oil, and her regimen became inconsistent as doctors continued to prescribe her a myriad of pills and heavy pain medicine.
At this time, I discovered a doctor who had a lot of success with enzyme therapy, diet, and other supplements. His name was Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez in New York. Unfortunately, he suspiciously dies, but pancreatic enzymes seemed to be something that stuck out to me that mom should take. Mom was on a slow decline, and then she threw a blood clot, damaged her kidney, and developed DVT in her right leg. They hospitalized her for over a week, put her on blood thinners, and came home. She continued immunotherapy treatments until the doctor decided it was no longer effective. We talked about a clinical trial that was a form of targeted chemo. Still, she had to hit specific markers to be eligible, which it looked like mom would, so we went home to think about it but not before stopping at our favorite Italian restaurant in Little Italy.
A short time later, declining at home, she was doubled over in pain for 24 hours. Finally, we went to the emergency room, and her cretin and potassium levels were high. They had to perform an emergency nephrostomy at Wheeling Hospital. A nephrostomy is a surgery where tube surgeons place tubes into your kidney through your back attached to bags that collect your urine banded to your thighs. Now looking back she was never the same and declined fast after the nephrostomy surgery. I believe her body could no longer fight cancer effectively because her body was too busy dealing with her kidneys, medications, trauma, pain, and surgeries associated with the Nephrostomy. Her body was no longer receiving treatment; she could not follow a nutritional diet; they had her on all kinds of medications. Her diet had to change, and we were no longer juicing, taking CBD, or supplements as scheduled.
During this time, she started having a hard time getting around, and her right leg begins to fill with fluid. Her mobility slowly declined as both her legs swelled, began to weep, and cancer progressed. We never really got an answer about what was causing the leg edema. Some doctors said, DVT others said cancer, others lymph nodes it was very frustrating. I remember sitting in the cardiologist’s room with the nurse as my mom commented on how pretty the nurse’s knees were compared to her BIG knee, We all laughed on the outside, but our hearts felt heavy on the inside. That is what we would jokingly call moms leg with severe edema; she coined it her “Big Leg.”
I’ve found that during such emotional times, the closest people to you who are sharing these moments find a sense of humor in the oddest things. The doctor said that all we could do would be to wrap them every day, which was extremely hard for her to tolerate because of how sensitive her legs were. After wrapping her legs, we wheeled mom down to get lunch, and mom and I went to a table while Frank went to get our meals. Mom and I discussed what the Dr had said when she broke down crying, saying she could not handle it anymore and she was in too much pain and misery with her legs wrapped. We both started crying as Frank approached the table with our meals and realized what was going on. He and I emotionally unwrapped her legs to give her relief. Finding a balance between enduring many things that cause pain and discomfort and doing what supposedly will help is difficult.
Seeing mom go through so much was heart-wrenching, but I wanted to be there for her as much as possible and could have never lived with myself if I had not done everything in my power and ability to help her in whatever way possible. I would have traded her places in a second if I could have.
The nephrostomy tubes were a nightmare. We were in the Emergency Room during April and May over a dozen times dealing with infections, the lines, and cancer complications. She had six sets of tubes placed in 3 months. By this time, both of mom’s legs were extremely swollen, and she was in a wheelchair for the most part but could walk with a walker short distances. Every day I would massage her legs, feet, and butt then wrap them. She would work hard to do laps around the first floor to get her mobility back, but it was exhausting for her and unbearably painful.
We returned to Cleveland Clinic to see what our options were. Dr. Garcia said that the primary tumor in her bladder had doubled in size and that she was no longer eligible for a clinical trial, but they could try one last round of chemo. The chemotherapy would be administered at Wheeling Hospital because mom was having a tough time getting around and was in constant pain whenever we moved her. I did not want her to have the chemo, but I could not crush what she saw as her last glimmer of hope. Part of me wishes I would have said, don’t do it, mom, but I was supportive and gently discussed the chemotherapy side effects and natural alternatives’.
We met with an oncologist at Wheeling Hospital, Dr. Shinn; he is a very kind and genuine man. Dr Shinn disagreed with Dr. Garcia’s recommendation and thought if she was going to do the chemo, it should be 1/3 the dose extended more over time. He felt it was better to have the ability to increase instead of giving her too much because of the danger with her nephrostomy tubes, DVT’s and many other conditions.
Dr. Shinn scheduled mom to have the chemo on Tuesday. As we arrived for her final chemo appointment, we were all nervous, and mom was scared but played strong. She was placed in a bed, and they set the IV and administered the chemo. My heart was torn, praying it would help but knowing it was poison. Mom and I talked and held hands. She was very emotional, as was I. We talked about things to do when she got better and being excited to see grandma. After she finished the chemo, we had to have an ambulance take her to the Home of Good Shepard, which was a very difficult decision but seeing how my grandmother was there would allow mom to see her mom for the first time in over nine months. Their mom also could get rehabilitation to see if she could stand or walk again.
Once we got her to Good Shepard and settled in, I went to get my grandma for the reunion. They were on the same floor but opposites sides of the facility. My grandma had severe dementia, so she did not know anyone but got very excited and emotional to see mom but thought it was her sister. It was one of the most memorable moments I have experienced in life. Mom and grandma spent time holding hands before mom fell asleep from exhaustion, and I took grandma back to her room after feeding her some of mom’s cake.
Mom was very emotional and scared during this time because she was almost wholly dependent on us for everything. With the help of a few of mom’s close friends, my step-father Frank and I stayed with her around the clock. I can say that spending the night in a nursing home is quite an experience that everyone should have. The opportunities to help and make someone smile are endless, but the staff’s patience and determination are admirable, and the nights are exhausting. I remember being woke up every 2 hours in the middle of the night and asked to leave the room as they checked mom’s roommate.
After spending a few weeks at The Home of Good Shepard, it was clear that mom would not walk again and that her condition was only getting worse. At this point, we had to think about the end of life care. It was tough, and I had prepared myself, so I thought it through and knew in my mind that whatever mom wanted, we would do.
Mom no longer wanted to stay at Good Shepard because of the noise, and her roommate had a horrible cough. Our options were to go home, which would take tremendous preparation, stay at Good Shepard, or goto Liza’s Place, which was an end-of-life facility. I wanted her to go home, and so did she. After she and I were having a very emotional conversation to convince everyone else, we made it clear that mom wanted to go home.
My stepfather Frank and I discussed plans, organized care schedule, hospital bed, and other things needed for her to go home. Once again, we had to have an ambulance take mom home, and then we carried her up the steps to her hospital bed, which was in the first-floor living room. She was exhausted but so happy and relieved to be home. Her condition continued to worsen until the point she was no longer mobile at all.
I enjoyed taking care of my mom very much. My job was to prepare food, alternative medicine regiment, bathing, clean/changing nephrostomy tubes, enema, massages, and anything else I could learn from the nurses. Mom felt most comfortable with me and said I just knew what she needed without saying it. At times like these, I am focused on what needs to be done and how to help mom, make her comfortable, secure, and loved. By this point, she had not been able to eat or maintain alternative treatments. She was on a lot of pain medicine, including a Fentanyl patch. As the days progressed, mom got worse, and it was getting to the point where we believed taking her to Liza’s Place would be the only option. We were having a hard time keeping her pain managed, and she was no longer eating, using the restroom, and slowly stopped speaking. One of the mom’s home nurses came and agreed it would be best to move her and so we called an ambulance and took her to Liza’s Place.
Lizas Place is an end of life facility, and they did an excellent job keeping mom comfortable. She was no longer verbal and was fighting for each breath. We had a lot of visitors, and I spent the night on the floor next to mom. The next day I wanted to go home, shower, and change clothes but was afraid because of mom’s condition and being told she could pass within days. I decided to go home really quick to change clothes and get a shower. I got out of the shower and changed clothes but decided to lay down on the couch, physically and mentally exhausted. I fell asleep, but something woke me suddenly, and I felt an urgency to get back to mom.
When I arrived, mom was in the same condition, and I let her know I had returned and kissed her on the forehead. When I sat down, Frank noticed Mom’s breath getting slower and then stopped. I jumped up as if something I should do and got the nurse, who confirmed she was only taking one breath a minute. For some reason, peace comes over the room as if everything was silent, and my stepfather started saying the rosary. You could feel an extraordinary presence. Was it god or Mom’s soul leaving her body? I do not know, but it is a feeling I will never forget and never have in my life felt. My stepdad, sister, and I hugged and held Mom’s hand, trying to be strong and not cry, but it was very hard. We assured mom it was ok to go and that we loved her very much. Everything was in slow motion and time stood still as her breathing completely stopped. My eyes filled with tears. I hugged her and kissed her on the forehead. The nurse came back into the room, checked her vitals, and said that mom had passed away. It felt like time had stopped, the universe froze, and my heart was empty or as if it had been taken from me. After that, everything was a blur. I remember holding her hand and praying until they asked us to leave. Mom was the most important person in my life and a unique soul. I turned to her for everything. I know she is in heaven and watches over me, but I would give everything to hug her one more time.