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 for me, I will share some of my experiences being by moms 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 own detriment but being such I have learned over time how corrupt most systems are in the world today. Without exception is the medical and pharmaceutical industries. As I watched my mom whom means more than anything in the world to me go through the misdiagnosis and then diagnosis of cancer to Chemotherapy treatment (which suppresses the immune system) then onto Immunotherapy (which boost the Immune System) at Cleveland Clinic Hospital it would eventually became clear to me how complicated the cancer industry is.
To say the least I was devastated when mom was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer on May, 1 2017. It was found in a biopsy on her collar-bone after the physicians assistant 6 months earlier had said 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 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 with urination she had surgery at Wheeling hospital to remove blockages and part of the tumor on her bladder but was then referred to Cleveland Clinic for treatment of the cancer, so an appointment was scheduled and we prayed.
When we arrived at Cleveland Clinic for the first time we were introduced to some wonderful people with caring and compassionate hearts from nurses to receptionists. Dr. Garcia was her Oncologist whom was from Bogota, Columbia and wore a flashy watch, cloths, shoes, and exuded a suave demeanor. He was at the top of his field and also had a really enthusiastic confidence about him. I believe his intentions were good but not always clear on the direction and felt that he was easily swayed by the money, power, and responsibility that came with his position.
At this time I decided to leave my job to take care of mom full-time and I developed an intense interest in cancer, the causes, history, and treatments. I soon began to realize how toxic and dangerous chemotherapy drugs could be and how rarely they ever helped anyone. How they were developed from leftover mustard gas from WWII and little had changed in their development over the last 50 years. I also discovered that for decades very powerful people were involved in funding universities and placing people of its choosing onto the board of directors at these same institutions. That these people had huge shares in the major pharmaceutical companies, universities, and even hospitals. That possibly these organizations and individuals have darker intentions other than just making money hand over fist but also our mental and physical health. I also learned that the majority of doctors were just pones in the game, they only learn what the universities that are funded by theses powerful people whom also indirectly dictate the curriculum that is geared toward profit and creating 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.
I am not saying that the medical community and pharmaceutical companies haven’t developed some amazing treatments for a variety of infliction’s 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 saw that so many people were having success with natural modalities and I read a library of books pertaining to the subject. So after many hours of research, we began implementing some of these natural modalities. We started juicing everyday as well as cutting out sugar, dairy, and any processed foods but mom wanted to continue Chemotherapy because the fear of going against the medical establishment .
I continued researching and we added turkey tail mushroom extract, barely grass, alkaline water, coral calcium. selenium, PH testing, lime water, turmeric, and probiotics to her regimen. After running into a friend whom told me about CBD oil she started taking it. She did well and it 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 about 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 them but paid little attention and felt they where useless. I was shocked to learn how little the mainstream medical community used naturopathic medicine and placed minimal importance on 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 which the therapeutic doses reaching 1 gram a day of oil and her regimen became inconsistent as she was prescribed a myriad of pills and heavy pain medicine.
At this time I discovered a doctor whom had a lot of success with enzyme therapy, diet, and other supplements. His name was Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez in New York. Unfortunately he suspiciously died 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 and damaged her kidney and developed DVT in her right leg. They hospitalized her for over a week put her on blood thinners and she came home. She continued immunotherapy treatments until the doctor decided it was no longer being effective. We talked about a clinical trial that was a form of targeted chemo but she had to hit certain 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 emergency room and her cretin and potassium levels were really high. They had to perform an emergency nephrostomy. At Wheeling Hospital. A nephrostomy is a surgery where tubes are placed into your kidney through your back that are attached to bags that collect your urine banded to your thighs. Now looking back she was never the same and really declined fast after the nephrostomy surgery. I believe her body could no longer fight the cancer effectively because her body was to busy dealing with her kidneys, medications, trauma, pain, and surgeries associated with the Nephrostomy. Her body was no longer receiving treatment she was unable to 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 begin to fill with fluid. Her mobility slowly declined as both her legs swelled, began to weep, and the cancer progressed. We never really got an answer as to 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 cardiologists room with the nurse as mom commented on how pretty the nurses knees were compared to her BIG leg knee, We all laughed on the outside but our hearts felt heavy on the inside. That is what we would jokingly called moms leg with the severe edema she coined it her “Big Leg”
During such emotional traumatic times I’ve found that the closest people to you who are sharing these moments find a sense of humor in the oddest things. The Dr said pretty much that all we could do would be to wrap them everyday 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 and 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 so 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 and during the months of April and May we were in the Emergency Room 12 times dealing with complications with infections, the tubes, and complications from the cancer. She had six sets of tubes placed in 3 months. By this time both of moms legs were extremely swollen and she was in a wheelchair for the most part but could walk with a walker short distances. Everyday I would massage her legs, feet, and butt then wrap them. She would work hard on making laps around the first floor in order 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 her main tumor in her bladder had doubled in size and that she was no longer eligible for clinical trial but they could try one last round of chemo. It would be administered at Wheeling Hospital because mom was having a very hard time getting around and was in constant pain whenever we had to move her. Now 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 negative possibilities of the chemo and natural alternatives.
We met with oncologist at Wheeling Hospital Dr. Shinn who is a very kind and genuine man. He did not agree with Dr Garcia and thought if she was going to do the chemo it should be 1/3 the dose extended over more time because it was better to have the ability to increase instead of give her too much because of the danger with her nephrostomy tubes, DVT’s and many of her other conditions.
She was scheduled 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 placed 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 it would allow mom to see her mom for the first time in over 9 month. Mom also could get rehabilitation there 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 where on the same floor but at opposites sides of the facility. My grandma had severe dementia so she did not really know anyone but got very excited and emotional to see mom but thought it was her sister. It was one of the most amazing 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 moms cake.
Mom was very emotional and scared during this time because she was almost completely dependent on us for everything. So My step-father Frank and I with the help of a few of moms close friends 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 patience and determination required by the staff is 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 on moms roommate.
After spending a few weeks at The Home of Good Shepard it was clear that mom was not going to walk again and that her condition was getting worse. At this point we had to think about end of life care. It was very difficult 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 her and I having a very emotional conversations to convince everyone else, we made it clear to everyone that’s what we would do was to go home.
We discussed plans, organized care schedule, hospital bed, and other things needed for her to be able 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 mom very much and my job was to prepare food, alternative medicine regiment, bathing, cleaning/changing nephrostomy tubes, enema, massages, and anything else’s I could do or learn to do from the nurses. Mom felt most comfortable with me and said I just knew what she needed without her having to say it. At times likes these I am focused on what needs done and how to best help mom, make her comfortable, and feel loved. By this point she had not been able to eat or maintain the 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 where having a hard time keeping her pain managed and she was no longer eating, using the restroom, and slowly stopped speaking. One of moms 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 a wonderful 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 and get a shower and change cloths but was afraid because of moms condition and being told she could pass within days. I decided to go home really quick to change cloths and get a shower. I got out of shower and changed cloths but decided to lay down on the couch being 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 gave her a kiss on the forehead. When I sat down Frank and Leigh noticed moms breath getting slower and then stopped. I jumped up as if there was something I should do and got the nurse who confirmed she was only taking one breath a minute. For some reason a peace came over the room as if everything was silent and my stepfather started saying the rosary. You could feel a very special presence. Was it god or moms soul leaving her body. I do not know but it is a feeling I will never forget and have never in my life felt. My stepdad, sister, and I hugged and held moms 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 and 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 just remember holding her hand and praying until they asked us to leave. Mom was the most important person in my life and an amazing 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.