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My mother In law

Soniamassaro
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2016

my mother in law is a breast cancer survivor but diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. Her surgery was yesterday. They removed the womb,ovaries, etc. a small part of her colon and a lot of cancer from the fatty apron, abdomen, a little from her bladder. The surgery went well but she is in the icu because her kidneys are not performing and she is dehydrated and they pumped her full of fluids and they are In her lungs now which makes breathing difficult. Anyone out there similar? Any advice

LorettaMarshall's picture
LorettaMarshall
Posts: 682
Joined: Sep 2012

My Dear “Sonia”

          Sounds as though your mother-in-law had Cytoreductive surgery, (CRS) often referred to as “debulking”.  All that you describe sounds very familiar to those of us who have had this surgery.  Back when I was 36, I had my uterus removed, but didn’t have my ovaries or fallopian tubes removed.  At age 12, I had my appendix removed.  Had I still had my uterus or my appendix, they would have been removed during my surgery.  I was first diagnosed in November of 2012 with Peritoneal Carcinomatosis.  A SECOND opinion at UPMC showed that my ovaries were cancerous as well.  I had 6 sessions (@ 3-week intervals) of pre-op chemo of Carboplatin and Taxol prior to surgery.  In July of 2013, I was admitted to one of the University of Pittsburgh Medical hospitals, “PASSAVANT”.  Dr. David Bartlett performed the surgery.  The surgery was never meant to be “curative” but rather to remove “non-essential” organs that were likely places where the cancerous cells could eventually take up “new residences.”  My ovaries, fallopian tubes, spleen, gallbladder, omentum and parts of my intestines were removed. 

          After surgery, I recall not having anything to eat but ice chips for the first 10 days until my bowels “woke up”.  So naturally, I had to have “fluid pumped in for hydration and sustenance” shall I say.  That was a distressful, uncomfortable and suspenseful time.  Early on I also had fluid drained from my lungs. At the first I was given something for pain, but when I awoke up and didn’t realize where I was “momentarily” until I recognized the pictures on the wall, I said, “Don’t give me any more of that stuff.”  And actually that was only for a couple of days. 

          The thoughts of whether or not I was going to make it through was most intense the first few days.  But I had brought with me some of my favorite Bible verses to remind me that I was not in that room alone.  At a very low point early on, I remember calling in one of the nurse’s aides about 2 in the morning.  I told her how I was feeling, and asked if she would get those verses out of my nightstand and read them to me.  She did and I survived the night and made it part of my morning routine to remind myself, just like the poem, “Footprints in the Sand”, that I was not alone. 

           It is customary for patients to be in ICU at first so they can be closely monitored.  As awful as it is to see your loved one in misery at this moment, hopefully, she will have a much longer life because of this surgery.  My very first diagnosis was “Peritoneal Carcinomatosis”.  Believe me that’ll take your breath away.  But I believe in “owning one’s cancer” and not whistling in the dark.  The more one knows, the more confident they will be as to why they are being treated with certain meds and how to be sure you have the very best doctors. 

          And yes, your MIL is no doubt feeling a bit low presently and rightfully so.  At the very first, I didn’t know whether I would survive that “major” surgery or not.  I did have some complications, but I won’t go into them here.  She should cross those bridges when she comes to them and not before!  Getting something to eat, and waiting for my bowels to begin to function again was indeed a trying time.  And it will probably be so for her as well, but “time” really can heal “some” wounds.  If she was like me, I had a massive incision that begin between my breasts and continued down to the pubic area.  So she is going to be in a bit of discomfort presently.

          Nevertheless, take heart Sonia, so far it sounds like your MIL is experiencing things that are normal for what she has been through.  I know that my times are in God’s hands, and I am happy that He has given me more blessed “years” than I could have dreamed of.  Family and friends are even more precious and I’m happy to still be with those I love that are dear to me.  Another Spring is here!  Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and every day is not a rainy day, even though I’m not cancer free.  My CA-125 count has risen once more from single digits at Christmas time to 157 as of yesterday.  Death could have taken me away early on, but by the grace of God I am still here, and enjoying a good quality of life, given my Stage IV diagnosis.  Presently I am just in “God’s Waiting Room” as I prefer to call it.  And only He knows when I will have to make another decision as to what “pre-emptive” strike to make.  If I dwelt always on “what’s next” I would miss out on the day I’m presently enjoying.

          It’s my prayer that you will enjoy having your mother-in-law around for years to come, even with her diagnosis.  Easter is here.  I like to think of the Cytoreductive surgery as a “new lease on life”.  May this surgery prove to be exactly that for her.  Give your mother-in-law my regards.

Praying for all the best for all your family. 

Loretta

Peritoneal Carcinomatosis/Ovarian Cancer Stage IV

P.S.  Knowing that despair would like to be our daily companion, we have an alternative when we realize the beauty of this poem, “Footprints in the Sand.” Perhaps it will lift your spirits. 

FOOTPRINTS  IN  THE  SAND

 One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints.
Other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord,
that if I followed You, You would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed You most, You have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."

(Author - Mary Stevenson)

 

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