Life and Death

day girls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latest scan results are in.  The cancer has spread.

In addition to the cancer in my lymph nodes and around my left breast implant, the cancer has also spread to my sternum, ribs, clavicle, pelvis, vertebrae, spine, neck, and into my liver.  Plus, I still have liters of fluid surrounding my left lung.  And it turned out there is a fracture in the left femoral neck ( which explained the hip pain I’d been having for the last three weeks).

I found out this wonderful news in a cab en route from the Chicago airport heading to celebrate my 40th birthday with auntie Cole and 15 of our closest family and friends.  To add insult to injury, as I was getting in the cab I made a wrong move and the fracture in my femur turned into a full break. I arrived at the hotel only to be whisked away in an ambulance moments later to Northwestern Hospital to prepare for emergency hip surgery.

Happy birthday to me!

That was Friday, October 24. I’ve been in Chicago ever since.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do surgery on my actual birthday. Instead, all the girls came to my hospital room with presents, champagne, cupcakes, good tunes, and smiling faces and we managed to celebrate.

The next day I went in for surgery and all seemed well. I had minimal swelling, minimal bruising. Everyone seemed happy with my progress. The pain was excruciating the first few days but that’s what pain meds are for right?  Eventually they transferred me to their acute rehab center and I started to learn to walk again.

Unfortunately more drama lay ahead.

One night I awoke in excruciating pain, finding it difficult to breathe. When the pain didn’t go away they sent me back to the emergency room at Northwestern Hospital to figure out what was going on. Turns out my gallbladder was inflamed and infected.  Fearing my body wouldn’t be able to handle another surgery, the doctors installed a drain directly into my gallbladder instead.  And started me on antibiotics.

For days I was unable to eat. I felt so weak. We did more scans which further confirmed the presence of cancer in my liver, around my gallbladder, and intestines. It felt like the end. I could no longer gloss over how sick I truly was.  All of a sudden death didn’t feel so far away.

Thank God auntie Cole and auntie Laurie were here – to hold my hand, to listen to the doctors, to make plans,to distract me with episodes of sex and the city, to cry endless tears with me.

Thank God for my husband and my neighbors and my family who kept miss M’s life as normal as possible during this time.

Fortunately hubby and miss M managed to make it out here to Chicago for a couple of days. It’s so hard being away from them.  That visit restored all our spirits and gave me the extra oomph I needed to get stronger again.  With each passing day my stomach hurt less and less. I was able to eat more. I was able to get out of bed and walk again. But we all knew for the real healing to occur I needed to get back home to New England.

And the great news is that after days and days of back and forth with doctors, social workers, medical facilities, and  health insurance representatives, it looks like we finally are getting out of Chicago. Hooray!

Because of my condition, it is near impossible to get me home on a regular commercial flight. So my fabulous uncle Markie found a company called Angel Med Flight that will take me and two guests on a direct flight home with an EMT worker and a nurse and everything I might need medically to make it through the journey.

The unfortunate news, is that this flight costs over $14,000. But if my situation truly has become one of life or death I know I don’t want to spend whatever time I have left alone in a Chicago hospital. I need to be home with my family. Whatever the cost.

But if anyone out there would like to contribute towards the payment of this flight it would be greatly appreciated.  You can always donate through the PayPal link on the sidebar of this blog or contact my aunt Laurie ( l.oneil@comcast.net) to make other arrangements.

As it stands right now, I am set to leave on a jet plane tomorrow morning. They will transport me directly from the hospital via ambulance to the airplane. And then from the airport in Connecticut to a rehab facility in Mystic where I will stay until we figure out what’s next.

Ultimately, I would love to go back home again. To be in my house. With my daughter. My husband.  My dog. My DVR TV shows…  But I know I need to build up to that. Right now my body is still weak. My breathing is labored.  My tummy and gallbladder are still sensitive.  And my hip still needs a lot more healing too.

I will continue to take each day as it comes. To cry when I need to cry. To laugh as much as I possibly can. To spend time with those I love. To try not to get lost in the sadness and despair. To remember there is always hope.

My life is not over yet. But for a moment it sure felt like it was.

Love to all.  -T

dogdr m

First haircut post chemo - with the hilariously spicy Heidi French!

First haircut post chemo – with the hilariously spicy Heidi French!

Children's Museum Chicago

Children’s Museum Chicago

35 Responses

  1. Hang in there Terri!! You look and sound beautiful and like you still have hidden depths of strength that have yet to be tapped. And doesn’t Miss M look like a fabulous future medical professional?! I can easily imagine her spreading good healing energy far and wide. I’m so glad you got to spend some time with her and hubby, no doubt a massive relief for them to see you after these weeks apart and for you to pick up a bit more of their love. Speaking of love, I swear Jeanne has been on my mind every five minutes over the past few weeks. She’s definitely around and looking out for you. Huge hugs to you and family.

  2. Holding you and your whole family in my thoughts and prayers as you make your journey home. As your mother would sometimes write me: Words can’t reach it. Love, John

  3. WOW….
    All I can say is I LOVE YOU. I hope you get home as soon as possible to be in the place you should be, surrounded by love and familiar, healing surroundings. Bless your beautiful soul. <3 (tears flowing for you…)

  4. Oh Terri! I am so sorry to hear you are going through all of this! I know it sounds trite, but I am praying hard for you. And I will donate what I can to your transportation. I just returned from Chicago today. If I had known, perhaps I could have visited you. So glad you are going to get to be home where you are comfortable and loved.

  5. Shitgoddamit Luanna, I am so sorry. I am getting right on that PayPal–we gots to get you HOME! Lots and lots of love from Toronto. xoxoxo Molly

  6. Dear Terri,
    We got the news of your hospitalization in Chicago on Tuesday at Loon Lake sesshin (intensive Zen Retreat). Your name had been chanted in the dedication of our Well-being Service that morning, as it has every time we’ve done the service since your diagnosis.
    I’m not very good at social media, but I’ve read every posting on this blog, and sent my love from my heart/mind to yours. I always think of you whenever my choir sings Be Like the Bird, words by Victor Hugo, composed by Abbie Betinis, herself now a three-time cancer survivor at the age of 34. You can listen on her website: http://www.abbiebetinis.com/works/be_like_the_bird.html
    “Be like the bird that, pausing in her flight a while on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and sings, and sings and sings, knowing she has wings.”

    You’ve been singing from the beginning of this journey, inspiring many with your songs, and you’re not done yet. Safe passage as you fly home tomorrow.

    Much love,
    Myoshin Kate from everyone at Mountain Rain Zen in Vancouver

  7. Sorry to hear about the progression of your cancer. Glad you’re heading closer to your family, even though it’s not quite home. I love your spirit your strength and your will. God bless you and your family.

  8. I have tears in my eyes, for joy that you are going home (or as close as you can get at the moment), for the fact you were able to visit your dad before this (he blogged too), but also for sorrow at how ravaged your body is. You have the most incredible spirit, and amazing support and love all around you. Know that prayer for you and your family through all of this is being put out into the ether from so many more than you know about. Blessings, and safe travel!

  9. My heart breaks to read all that’s going on with you right now. It pisses me off how quickly things can change for us! You are so strong and your always an inspiration to me. I’m praying that your home soon to that precious family and those DVR shows (I’m catching up on Grey’s Anatomy right now). Yay for 40!! Happy Belated Birthday!

  10. I haven’t been reading – I’m fighting my own medical battle with chronic fatigue, but I’ve been keeping somewhat abreast of the news, and keeping you close to mind and deep within my heart.

    Several times I wanted to say this but I knew it wasn’t quite the right time. Now – maybe it is.

    You’re fighting, of course. You can’t help it. But you need to understand the terms of the battle. This isn’t about winning or losing against your body – this is about you, and about life.

    Do you understand what I mean? You’re not exactly fighting for your life in the traditional sense. You’re not fighting *to live*. Because we never get to do that – we always end up going home in the end.

    That was an insight I had a long time back, see. Home is where, when you’ve got no where else to go, they have to take you in, right? Well, that means that death isn’t the enemy – it’s our final home. Dying sucks, sure, and it ain’t right, and it ain’t fair, and we should stop the dying part in its tracks when we can. But we can’t forever, so don’t ever think that going home means losing your fight. That’s the nasty trick that despair tries to play on us – to think that life’s ending is the great loss. It isn’t, and don’t fall for that ploy.

    The question isn’t will you survive, or even how long. None of us will, not forever. The question is, how will you live?

    Keep that in your heart, and remember that you are loved, deeply, and dearly. Whatever happens next, remember that, and hold it close.

    Good luck, and brightest blessings.

  11. Terri – you are such an inspiration. Your ability to find humour and positives in any situation is remarkable. I am so very thankful that you are able to get home to your loved ones. They will bring you such strength. Lots of love and prayers. Val xoxo

  12. I would love to help. Will have a check for Laurie as soon as you all get home. You continue to amaze me! Look forward to seeing you in Mystic. Love, Christa

  13. More bumps in your road! I’m sorry to hear of them, but your spirit continues to delight and inspire me. My challenges aren’t health-related, but your attitude can be transferred to dealing with anything, really. I’m sending you love and light and I wish you many blessings and a speedy and comfortable recovery so that you can be in your own home again. I know how important that is. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. ~ Linne

  14. Our girl is home and deeply grateful to all of you for your tremendous love and support…
    And my beloved Terri, I am deeply grateful and honored to be your Auntie…

  15. Terri – I don’t know you – I have been following you for probably 2 years now. You have to be the bravest, strongest person that I know – or should say, that I don’t know. Please know that my prayers are with you and your family and I will be praying that get you to your home fast!! Much love – MK

  16. Hi Graceful Woman, I have seen your post via a Facebook friend and I’m sending you lots of love in your challenging circumstances! Let me know if you like music and you’d like some things to listen to. I have a lot of songs to send you if that’s something you like to do. Hope you’re feeling okay tonight. xox

  17. Whatever else, I hope you have a delight-full Thanksgiving at home in the company of your husband, child, family and friends this Thursday.

    May the great Mother grant your deepest desire.

  18. You teach me so much, how to love, how to share, how to be a friend and how to live and die. I have been ready to die in the past with my own fights but I have so much to learn from you…I need to read this blog on a daily basis because I need to live life like you. Fight! I am praying for you and your family.

  19. I had Ovarian cancer in 1994. My most outstanding memory is not of the cancer, but of the many, many angels who carried me through that ordeal, some who I previously had barely known. My donation is a nod to those angels who helped me through. I wish you strength and hope. My donation is a nod to those angels who helped me through. You and your family are in my prayers.

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