Don't Be Shy!

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Friday, October 12, 2012

It's been more than a year since I have posted. Facebook has been my mode of connection with people. A lot has happened in the past year. The biggest change is that my oldest sister and best friend, Linda has had her cancer become active again. Linda is 11 years older than me and we are alike in so many ways. Let me back up a bit and give you her story: I wrote this for "Linda's story" on Caring Bridge, it's told from my point of view: My dates might not be exact but here is the gist of the story. Back in 1995 Linda was diagnosed with lung cancer and part of her lung was removed. 2 years after that a spot was found on her pelvic bone. Radiation was how it was treated and 15 great years ensued! Linda had her first hip replaced and recovered well from that. A second hip replacement was done in May, 2011. By January of 2012 the hip replacement was becoming painful and walking was extremely difficult for her. A revision was planned and Dr. Hartman found that her pelvic bone was disinegrating and the hip replacement wasn't attached to that bone anymore. Dr. Hartman sent her to Mayo Clinic for further evaluation.It was discovered that Linda had radiation induced sarcoma and chemotherapy began. Late in February, Linda began a regimen of adriamyacin every 3 weeks. After 2 treatments scans showed that the tumors had shrunk immensely. 6 doses of adriamycin were given with great results. No more than 6 doses can be given because the drug attacks the heart and a heart attack could occur. With her last set of scans, Dr. Schwartz (oncologist) sent her to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion as to how to proceed. On July 17, I took Linda down to Mayo and we spoke with Dr. Marx. He agreed with Dr. Schwartz that a single agent chemo was best and that gemzar was effective and had minimal side effects. On August 3, I took Linda for her first dose of gemzar. It went well but I noticed her being weaker on the trip home than the trip to the clinic. I had to use the wheelchair to get her into the house instead of her using her walker (she is non weight bearing on the right leg since January). I got her settled and asked if she wanted me to stay until her daugther Becca showed up. She told me she was just going to sleep and to go home. At 6pm Becca called me. Linda had gone to the bathroom and yelled to Becca to come help her. She couldn't get off the toilet herself. Linda also said to call Aunt Jane for help. While waiting for Jane, Becca asked Linda to help support her and she couldn't. Her left side was weak. Then Linda had a "seizure-like" episode. Jane and Becca called 911 and she was transported to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. At the emergency room, a neurologist sent her for an CT scan of her head. The results showed bleeding and swelling in the brain as well as a tumor on the right frontal lobe. She was put into the neuro ICU and we went home for the night. Saturday, August 4th, Dr. Seng (oncologist on call) said that the results showed blood in the mass and that's what caused her seizure-like episode. The cancer had metastasized to her brain. Sunday, August 5th, Dr. Dyste, neurosurgeon, told Linda that after consulting with an oncologist and internist that surgery was very viable. The reason why surgery was a good option is because the previous cancer has been contained for months! This was scary but good news. Tuesday, August 7th Linda had a brain MRI at 6:30am and brain surgery at 8:30am. Dr. Dyste was very pleased with the results and said within 7 days we should see improvement on her left side. Biopsy results will be Thurs or Friday. Wednesday, August 8th a cat scan was done to show if there was any bleeding in the brain and there wasn't. Linda was transferred from ICU to the regular neuro floor. She needs healing now and time to recover. Today, 10/12/12 we found out that Linda will be going to Our Lady of Peace hospice. It's a place where cancer patients who have no more treatment offered to them can go to live out their final days free of charge. I have been Linda's "rock" through the past 10 months and I am so thankful that God put me back in Mn so that I am here for her. She is the oldest of 5 and I am the youngest but we are soooooooooo alike. There's a lot more to this story but for now please keep our family in your prayers. My daughter gets married in 2 weeks and I just want Linda to hang on until after this happy time is over. Selfish? Maybe, but I think it's a small thing to ask God for. I also ask that God allow me to be with Linda at the final hours of her life. We've been through a lot of this journey together and I want to finish it with her. Please pray for us.