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Christine’s Story

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

June 2008;
34yo, 3 great kids, 1 loving husband
It started with a bad Pap smear.
It then went to an attempt to perform a hysterectomy, which did not happen because the cancer had spread too far.
Scans, CT and MRI.
Chemo and radiation.
Cesium implants.
Scans.
Cervix clear cancer moved to T4 vertebra.
More radiation.
Combo of chemo, radiation, and chemically induced menopause caused vertebra to become brittle then collapse.
Vertebra patched using procedure called Vertebroplasty.
Scans show spread to T6-T9.
More Chemo.
Collapse of T7.
Vertebroplasty preformed on T6, T7, T8.
More scans.
Cancer returned to Cervix. Cancer on T9. Cancer on T2.
More chemo and radiation planned.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

I’ve been married to my wife, whom I love, for 14 years. She was a stay at home mom for a number of years then decided to go and get her degree. In 2008, right after she graduated, she was diagnosed with Cervix Cancer (see above for timeline).

Needless to say her health has seriously deteriorated almost to the point of me providing full time hospice care. I’ve had to take over all of the jobs she had around the house from bills, to laundry, to dinner, on top of the around the house jobs I had and my more than full time job.

Because she now cannot drive I am also responsible for getting her to and from doctor’s appointments.

We have a few family friends that will bring food by, but beyond stopping by a couple of times every other month or so we don’t see them too much.

I’ve stopped all extracurricular activities I was involved in from the gym, to my 14 year stint in the military reserves, to coaching my kids in their after school sports programs, and still don’t have the time to get everything done.

I miss my wife.

I miss intimacy with my wife.

I miss our life before cancer.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

I say:
“We need help”
“What do we tell the kids”
“What do we do”
She says:
“We don’t need anyone”
“Don’t tell the kids anything”
“I don’t want to talk about it”

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Wow! That's all I can think to say. Your whole family has really been put through the ringer! I'm sorry to hear you've had to endur so much with so little help. This whole cancer thing S***S BIG TIME! You didn't mention the stage of her cancer, but it sounds like IVB. There has to be some kind of groups that provide support in your area. I believe that you may even contact ACS through this website for information. Your wife may be choosing to ignore her disease, but you have to think of yourself and family. Caregiver burnout happens to even the toughest individuals. Do yourself that favor and start taking steps to see what's available; especially for the kids. It takes time for everything to fall in place, so you don't want to wait until it's too late.
I'll keep you in my prayers. Feel free to come here to vent, ask questions, whatever...there are good people here who have been through the same as you. Keep posting!

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

Becky

She was diagnosed as IIb but was treated as IVb because of her age. No one has changed this diagnosis that I’m aware of.

We’re now being told by Nuero surgeons and oncologists that there is no more they can do surgically and there’s no reason for new appointments.

Does this mean they’ve given up?

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Christines husband,
I am so sorry to hear you say this. And yes, it does sound like they've given up. That does not mean that you and your wife have to give up. I have read many stories just like yours and those individuals were persistent and sought out 2nd or 3rd opinions and have defied all odds. They are alive and well...many of them are cancer free or in remission.
I can read between the lines that you are feeling totally defeated at this time. Cancer does that to us all! It sounds like it's time you took a deep breath and sat down with your wife and had a heart to heart talk. What does SHE want at this time? Is she willing to continue the fight? Depending on her decision, your family will be enduring a stremendous battle ahead...whatever the choice.
Keep me posted. ((HUGS))

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 201
Joined: Oct 2009

How are you doing now? You are going through so many losses as you help your wife with her battle with cancer. Does your wife have a girlfriend that can help you get some support? Reading your posting brought such feelings of empathy for you. I just finished my chemo December 30,2009 and I am wondering when I am going to get my pre chemo life back as well.
Please contact the American Cancer Society for help because you are suffering and need help. Isn't it sad how friends and family gather round early with the initial shock of diagnosis but then move on and forget that you and your wife are hurting and need support.
People always say call me if I can help...and we don't call because we are in such pain and don't want to depend on others. But maybe make a list and start calling and telling people how they can help.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

She had had some blood work done a couple of weeks ago and there was a spike in her kidney counts. Urologist ended up putting in stints between her kidneys and and her bladder. Biopsy was done on a mass in her bladder. It's come back positive for a different kind of cancer. Really? Can't she cut a break?

She can't walk more than 30 feet unassisted. She cant dress herself. Shes doped to the gills for her pain, now with more random bouts of anger and grief aimed at either me or our kids. She's cut out all the people that care about her, except me, nurses aren't allowed to touch her. I get to do it.

We'll get a pain pump this week.

Neuro Doc: Bone scan done Friday. Not looking forward to the results.

Chemo Doc: We'll fight as long as you want to do it. But if you want to stop we understand.

Radation doc: "Can't do anything without risk of paralyzing you. If you want to, we can just get the stints removed and she just die in her sleep after a couple of days."

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Christines husband,
I'm sorry that your having to endur all this on your own. Sounds like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. No chance your wife will let anyone else step in to help?
How are the kids holding up? Do they understand what is going on? How are you holding up?
The responses from the docs sound normal. Treating patients day in and day out with this dreaded disease puts a person into a different state of mind. Especially when their knowledge is all medically based and that medicine stops working...
I hope the bone scan doesn't turn up any more surprises and that the pain pump will be effective and allow you to get some of your wife back. They work differently than oral pain meds, so she shouldn't be so medicated mentally.
Remember through all this, your wife is not mad at you. She is mad at the disease and scared. She knows that she can trust you to be there through thick and thin....although it's not easy position for you. I found myself taking any anger I had out on my husband. I knew he would not walk away. And, subconsciously, by distancing myself from him...if I did not make it, he would hurt less. Finally, we talked about it and I found out that he was really hurt and dumbfounded, because all he wanted to do was help. I didn't talk much, was short with what I had to say and built a wall around me. He finally gave up trying to communicate and would just keep an eye on me from a distance.
Keep coming here and posting...support is not over rated!

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 201
Joined: Oct 2009

It really sounds like Christine's cancer is aggressive. Has anyone put you in touch with palliative care people to help you deal with all of this?
My Mom died of uterine cancer and her cancer went to her bones-spine and arm (painful) and then her adrenal gland (near kidney).
I knew that she was dying when her urinary catheter bag had more blood than urine in it. She died in about a two months from the time she was told her cancer was terminal. People who are dying of cancer often know it and turn inward to finish work internally so to speak. My Mom was a RN and she knew she was dying. She was quiet, talked very little, mostly slept, until about 4 days before she died. Four days before she died she called each one of her four adult children to her bedside and had a final conversation with each of us. She also took off all of her jewelry and gave it to my sister and I. She was ready to join our Lord in heaven.
Dying people often don't talk much towards the end. The pain meds also make them so doped up that communication isn't the best. Christine's oncologist needs to have an honest conversation with you about her prognosis. There is always HOPE but there is a need to have honest communication about what to expect. I am so very sorry that Christine, you and your family are suffering. Praying for Christine and you.
Peace and Caring,
Lori

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

Pain pump hooked up. 3mg morphine per hour, authorized to be bumped up to 6mg.

Home health nurse here every other day.

Tubes now running directly out of her kidneys so they'll drain.

Neurologist can do nothing surgically. Theres just not enough left of her spine.

We have talked to her chemo doctor. She offered more chemo. I thought it was a bad idea.
Christine wants to fight. She has asked for my support. I've given it.

Got the wheelchair last week. She cried when I said we may have to put in a ramp.

Hospital bed comes this week.

She's doped to the gills. Sleeps all day. I can't get her to eat.

My mother has told me repeatedly that if I needed help to let her know. She's retired. I said I need someone to watch her a couple of days a week so I could go to work. Shes much too busy. Says I should call my insurance company and see if they could suggest something. Thanks mom.

I've talked to our kids. Told them what was going on. Told them to expect the worst, pray for the best. Asked if anyone had any questions. 13 and 12 year old had nothing. Our 9yo asked if mommy was going to die. I said yes. Tears all around.

I've tried to talk to her about a living will and a DNR. She thinks I want her to die.

Urologist pulled me aside. Said they could pull the tubes out of her bladder. She'd die of kidney failure after a couple of days. In her sleep. Just something to think about. Could I make that choice? Could I look her (or my kids) in the eye and tell them why I chose to do this?

What a mess......

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Christineshusband,
It is heart wrenching reading your words. No one deserves to shoulder all this on their own. I have great respect for you supporting her decision to continue the fight...although from your description the fight is nearly over. And the chemo the doctor is offering is not to try and fight the cancer, but with some it will help improve the quality of life. I don't understand that one, because the chemo drugs take away nearly all quality of life from my stand point. Is the home health nurse working with hospice? It sounds as if they are keeping her as comfortable as possible at this time with the pain meds...and yes, they do keep a person in a near comatose state. You stated that she won't eat...is she still drinking?
It's sad that your mother has turned her back on you, just when you need her most. People will often do this due to fear of death itself. It's inevitable...we all have to die, but many people fear that aspect of life. Can she at least help out with the kids?
It's good that you've sat down and talked with them. This is not something children should have to deal with...it's not fair, but then, life never is. Can your mother at least help out with the kids? Keeping their lives as close to normal throughout this will help them deal with all that's being thrown at them. Have you talked with the counselors at the kids school? They can be a source of support for them. They may not feel comfortable talking about their feelings at home with all that's going on, but may open to someone who's familiar to them. And this person can keep you informed of what's going on in their heads.
I can understand your wife's thinking you've given up on her by asking for her to create a living will/DNR. Most people don't deal with these things until death is upon the doorstep. It may help if the two of you both fill out these items together...one for you, one for her. Explain that's it's in the best interest of the children. None of us can ever predict when our time will come and it's never to early to prepare; especially if children are involved. We all get to busy with living life that we don't take time to prepare for end of life. My husband and I both sat down and filled out the necessary paperwork when I was diagnosed. It only took up a small space of our time, but took a big burden off both our shoulders. Then we put the papers away and forgot about them. They'll serve their purpose one day...just not today.
Your urologist is correct. If he were to pull the tubes, life would end sooner than later. Your really in a tough spot with this one, especially since your wife already thinks you want her to die. And going this way is not a fun thing to watch...I won't even describe it. I'm an RN and have seen this happen. Often, at end of life, the morphine drip gets turned up. The reasoning is that not only does this keep the patient comfortable, but is depresses the respiratory status, allowing the process to end sooner than later.
BIG ((HUGS)) to you for all your going through. Keep us posted.

Jilly.taylor
Posts: 7
Joined: Mar 2010

Just read your pages you wrote, i am just soo lost for words, my heart goes out to you
and your family, you seem to be going through such the worst times ever. I have been thinking about you non stop today since reading about your wife, i am totally lost for words, i too have had cancer, i was lucky enough to have been given the all clear, i at the time thought my world was falling apart, i now realise it was nothing to what you and your family are going through, just want you know that you and your family are in my thoughts and will be in my prayers.......Jily xxxx

Gina Pal
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2010

Christine's husband, I am so sorry that you are going through this. Cancer is a cruel, cruel disease. My sister is struggling with late-stage endometrial cancer. I am trying to help, but don't know what to do. I am praying for Christine, for you, and for your family.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

She’s down to about 90lbs. Makes Karen Carpenter look heavyset.
Eating and drinking just enough to survive.
Doing work on the house. Getting it ready to put on the market.
Still not communicative.
Home health has brought in a social worker to talk to her as she won’t talk to anyone else.
Morphine pump at 10mg an hour.
She lays there all day in her hospital bed which is in the living room (not been out of it in 3 weeks). Demands silence. Kids avoid her completely now as she can offer them nothing. Shes attempted to repremand them a few times they ignore her unless I step in.
She had no friends or close family before all this happened, only me and the kids. She’s emotionally distanced herself from us.
I provide the best care I can. Am tired. Want to run away, but who would take care of her? I’m all she has, and I want no more.

:(

susan492green
Posts: 5
Joined: Jun 2010

There is nothing more to say than that.

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Christines husband,
I know what your going through is something none of us would wish on our worst enemy. It doesn't sound like she has a lot of time left on this earth with us. As hard as it is, and it has to be doubly hard on the kids, it's important that you make the most of the time you have left. YOU CAN DO THIS! And after all is said and done...you can look back knowing that you did your best to make your wife's last day the best they could be. Keep us posted on your progress.

Toast
Posts: 33
Joined: May 2010

I think everything you are feeling is absolutely normal. Who wouldn't want to run away from such a painful situation that they have no chance of making better. You have been strong for so long and it has been so hard. Don't beat yourself up for being drained.
I went thru this with my dad and still feel the guilt of wanting it to be over for him. We only feel that way because we love them. We are human and have our physical and emotional limits.
Talk to us. Lean on us. I wish you had a loving support system there to help you, your wife and your children thru this. We are here for you!!!

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

The morphine is making it hard for her to distinguish between dreams and what happens when she’s awake. She thinks the kids are going to be shipped off, that I’m in the process of leaving her, and that my mother is trying to kill her. She’ll be asleep and vocalize a complete conversation within her dream. Hand gestures, raised voices, the whole thing.

She’s on Lexipro and I’m going to see if I can get the MG bumped up on it. The kids are terrified and I’ve tried to explain it to them as best I can as why she’s acting the way she is. They walk on egg shells around her. I try to get them to mind her but she spouts demands from her dreams and wakes and thinks she actually wants them. My youngest was searching the house for a pink magic marker for almost 45 min when I found out about it.

How can I shield my kids from this? Summer just makes it worse because they’ve nowhere to go. I need them at the house to care for her while I try to work.

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

Christines husband,
My heart breaks reading your words. You say you have a social worker involved and a home health aide...can't they step in and take a load of you and your kids shoulders? Is there a possibility of hospice placement?
It sounds like she's having a reaction to the increased morphine. I know this is used for pain, but have you discussed other options with the docs? It could also be a side effect of the cancer in her spine. I am so sorry! These next few weeks are going to be very difficult. I've done a lot of end of life care for patients and there are never any easy answers....time. Encourage the kids to remember the good times, who their mom really is, not what their experiencing at this time.
Keep posting...it helps.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

Looks like it was the only treatment option left to her that caused the “doggie dream” reaction. Chemo Dr prescribed Xeloda, she took it for over a week and the side effects just got worse. She was getting no real sleep and doing some pretty crazy things. Paranoia was high and she accused all members of the house of conspiring against her. She is off the Xeloda. Wish she could have finished it as it was $700 for a three week supply. She’s upset as she has nothing left.
She has more blood in her kidney bags.
Now that all treatment is off the table hospice is the next step. Need to set up an appointment to talk to them.
I’ve been going out with friends about once a week, just to get out of the house. She thinks I’m cheating on her, I’m not. She said she was afraid because she might lose me. I know I am afraid, I will lose her.

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

It's good that you found out what was causing the "doggie dream" reaction. Side effects are part of every medication out there; even aspirin. It's good to hear that your able to get out of the house once a week. You need this "time out" just to keep yourself together to deal with all that you are. I hope your friends are providing you with all the support you need right now. Paranoia is normal in her state. You can understand the level of fear and anxiety she's feeling...cause your going through it with her. Getting hospice on board is a good choice. They are wonderful people and can help you in so many ways. They are there not only for the patient, but 100% for the family too. They can also help with pain management...there are so many options today. Getting the kids involved with hospice will also help them feel like they are part of the process and not just standing on the side lines not knowing what to do. BIG ((HUGS)) to you and the children.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

She'll only eat for me
Throat hurts to eat and drink
Rolling over causes massive pain and she needs help to do so
Home health is pushing her toward hospice
She still does not want hospice involved
Morphine at 9 1/2mg an hour with 2mg available every 15 min
Xanax given to help with anxiety, she's eating them like candy
Shes still does not want to talk to the kids about whats going on
Blood in kidney bags, nurse thinks the tumors have moved in
BP numbers are getting closer together 99/79
Nurse states that the BP numbers are a good sign that the end is near
When asked "Weeks or Months" the responce was "Weeks"
Home Health will bring hospice by to talk to me and the kids seperate from Christine

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I guess each of us with a cancer considered 'uncurable' wonders what it will be like at the end. I have recurrent endometrial cancer, and am in treatment for my 2nd recurrence which is thankfully still confined to my lymph system. I read the stats; and although I know I'm not a statistic, I'm 4 months away from the average 'expiration date' for my stage of cancer. Even though I get chemo every Monday, (with shots to keep my blood counts up every Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday), I still have an excellent quality of life and almost work full time and still travel (just cancelling my doctor's appointments for a week and going!), and eat out, and swim with my grandkids. But I do know that any day the cancer could rush ahead of the constant chemo and claim me and throw me into a situation like your wife's. Maybe I can give you a glimse of her perspective.

So I tell you as someone facing her own mortality: you're being wonderful. You just need to be wonderful a little bit longer. "Weeks", they said. Anything can be borne for weeks, even as beaten down as you feel right now. Reach deep for the great love you feel for your wife and your poor little children, amd let every sacrifice be a testament to that love. Get away from it all when you safely can, then come back and do it some more. For just a little bit longer. Then you will have no regrets. You've been wonderful. Just keep being. (((Hugs)))). My heart breaks for you, even as I worry for what my own dear husband will be facing soon enough.

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

I agree with everything Linda has said. You've been wonderful to your wife. Continue to take time out for yourself when you can. How are the kids holding up?

ktlcs's picture
ktlcs
Posts: 360
Joined: Jan 2010

as I read your story. I lost my husband to colorectal cancer on 7/17. I was his only care giver and I know exactly what you are feeling, the sadness, the anger, the frustration. I hate this disease and what it does to all of us. Try to find some peace in the knowledge that you've stayed by her side and have sone all you can and more.

I will pray for Chrisitne and for you

K

tears2overcome
Posts: 98
Joined: Jan 2010

You are a very strong man, in your heart you will always be strong. Your right to take a break now and again, to rebuild yourself. I am sad for the children, the Mom they love is a Mom in pain, how could that be easy. This is not about me, but I was diagnosed in December 09 with uterine cancer stage 4, spread to my appendix. It was worst cancer I was told, clear cell carcinoma stage 4, and so lucky it was caught. Anyway, my husband and I were undergoing separation/divorce at the time ( still are) and he became my care giver. When I was done my last chemo session I talked to him, and he said this. The hardest part is watching the pain, the crying I had, and all the rest. He felt like his hands were tied, he couldn't do anything for me, he was "lost". He cried plently of time, and I wanted him to take breaks from me, he wouldn't and I felt guilty. So I do understand you. Your wife my heart goes out to her. My husband said the meds I was on made me talk foolish, say things that scared him too. I didn't want my kids to see me either, and since mine were older they didn't really have to, but they felt it, when they talked to me, when they asked questions, and wanted to know "why". Boy that was one I wish could give them a answer. I took care of my health ,every yearly check up right to the day. Three days after my yearly I had pain, and they found the cancer.
I know my story is not near anything you are experiencing or your wife, but my heart is with you after reading all the posts.

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

..

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

Hospice involved
Morphine at 15mg an hour now
Morphine compound to rub on the wrists, 2 mg every 2 hours
Super concentrated liquid morphine for breakthrough pain, up to 4ml an hour
Hospice says if these meds don’t work they would have to move her to a care facility
Says the meds are too much, 20 min later she in tears wanting more
Not eating
Nafrostomy tubes closed and she is able to pee vaginally now?
Sobs for 2 hours after a nurse or bath aid visit
Got a call from home health nurse “I’ve been checking the obits, I guess shes still around?”
Kids and I now in therapy

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

I'm speechless. My heart goes out to you and your kids. Hang in there and take advantage of all that hospice has to offer...they are great people. Hope your support is strong at this time. ((HUGS))

Christines husband
Posts: 13
Joined: Feb 2010

Christine Marie, passed away on September 4, 2010 after a valiant battle against cancer. Christine was born in San Diego, CA on January 9, 1974.
Christine is survived by her husband Kevin, and children Zoe, Zachary and Quinn.
Christine was a veteran of the US Navy, where she served in Norfolk, VA and London, England, and a graduate of a local college.
She will be loved and missed by her friends and family.

Bye baby............ :(

Noellesmom
Posts: 1279
Joined: Aug 2010

I'm so sorry for your loss of Christine. It has been a difficult fight for both of you.

Christine is in no more pain.

Please take care of yourself so you can take care of the children.

You are a good husband - she was blessed to have you in her life, Kevin.

beckyracn's picture
beckyracn
Posts: 323
Joined: May 2009

May she rest in peace. I hope you continue to have support in this time of need. Take care ((HUGS)).

ktlcs's picture
ktlcs
Posts: 360
Joined: Jan 2010

I lost my husband in July to rectal cancer and although it was much quicker, it was just as heartbreaking. My condolences to you and your family. Know that you did all you could for her, and know that her suffering is over.

Kathy

Tasgirl's picture
Tasgirl
Posts: 85
Joined: Jun 2010

I am so sorry to hear about Christine. She is at peace now and no more suffering.
Jenny

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

This is heartbreaking. I am so very sorry for your profound loss. You were wonderful throughout this; please know how much that is respected here in the cancer community. As inevitable and universal as death is for all living things, it still is a staggering punch in the gut we never can prepare for. I pray for healing and comfort for your fanily. ((((Kevin, Zoe, Zachary and Quinn))))

srpshellie
Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2009

So so sorry for your loss. I had not been online for a long time and just read all of your posts. Christine was so lucky to have a strong loving husband like you in your life. Im so sad for your loss and your broken heart and spirit. I only hope that you have reached out for some therapy for yourself and your children. God bless and keep on. Im sure a husband will log on and read your words and find strength.

sarge57's picture
sarge57
Posts: 50
Joined: Nov 2010

Kevin

I am so sorry for your loss I am going through almost the identical situation with my wife as well. I have been reading through your posts and I dont know if you are still on here or not, if you are I feel for you and would like talk with you directly (johnenright@hotmail.com). My wife has cervical was diagnosed end of Aug with stage 4A no previous symptoms, it took almost a month for the doctors to figure out what it was. By the end of sept had progressed to 4B and had moved to the liver and lungs, she has nefrostomy tubes as well. By Christmas I was told she has 1-3 months, 2 tumors in the liver and numerous lesions, and they think is in the bones as well. We are not at the pain pump yet but close, she does not want to go to a hospice or hospital, but I can not continue to care for her 24/7.

She is home very irritable, wont take any support or counselling, now wont eat, is in pain, has problems in having bowel movements, has difficulty in moving around,keeps the kids sheltered from the her heatlh problems and saves it all for me, etc etc. Most everyone here know the problems with this disease.

Thanks for listening

John
My heart

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