Steve's Blog

Ovarian Cancer Sucks

Written by Steve Rhode

Life is becoming much more complex these days. My mother has been undergoing extended treatment for her advanced ovarian cancer and is struggling with all that comes along with that.

This past weekend she awoke very confused, weak, and complaining of pain and an ambulance had to be called to rush her to the emergency room. She was too weak to even sit up.

Between chemo, medications, new symptoms, new underlying issues, and worry, having a loved one dealing with any form of cancer is a major event in an otherwise normal life.

I’m certainly not complaining about how this impacts my daily life. There is no doubt that it impacts her life much more and much more severely. But this passage has two sides and both are impacted by death.

My Mom and I have already had the end of life talks, we’ve filled out the do not resuscitate orders, and have begun to deal with that final stage of her life. I even know what to do with her ashes when she passes. At least that’s a comfort knowing we are on the same page.

So please forgive me if I’ve been a little distant or not posting as much as I normally do. Life has been very unpredictable through all of this. It’s amazing how the unexpected events that occur because of medical surprises can radically change your day, week, or month.

Every step of the way on this final journey for her I am constantly reminded of how similar some of the emotions are between dealing with really tough problem debt and the passing of a loved one. The emotions are just as intensive, dark, overwhelming, debilitating, and depressing.

Those emotions blind us from the obvious reality that exists and leave us stranded in denial unable to take action to move forward. Just as I’m going to have to find my way through my mother dying, others have to find a way to deal with their financial lives fatally changing. It’s different. it’s the same.

READ  What a Week. Mom's Ovarian Cancer Surgery, My Dog Dude Needed Surgery, And Back and Forth

Ironically, I might just be a bit better prepared for these end times because of helping people with bad debt than I would be otherwise. If anything, helping so many people to cross the emotional problem hurdles of difficult life situations has made me more of a realist and that’s helpful. So thank you for that. But it still hurts.

While your thoughts and prayers might be with me right now, rest assured that my thoughts and prayers are with you as you might be struggling with your own life altering financial circumstances.

I love you Mom.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • I am so sorry Steve. I pray that your sweet memories of your Mom will dominate and fill your mind so these difficult days eventually pale by comparison.

      • It’s 2a and mom and I are sitting up like it’s the middle of the day.  She watching TCM channel and me on the internet.  It’s been a terrible past 48 hours.  My mom’s pain has escalated so that she is not on 30 mg Oxycontin twice a day with .7 of the Morphine liquid every 2.5 hours as needed for breakthru pain.  Last night it became all too real what is happening and it made me sad.  I cried for about 45 minutes . . . and I’m the strong primary caregiver and daughter . . . but seeing her in pain takes away all of my strength.  She calls in back pain but the hospice doctor reminds us that it’s probably the cancer making it’s way into her bones and because of where her primary tumor is located, feels like back pain.  And then again it could be back pain with the tumor beginning to find it’s way into the nerves of her back.  I hate the tumor and what it’s doing to my mom.  I am thankful for the many hours of time we have been allowed to share but I still hate the tumor.  I have now been with my mom and away from my life since 3/27/12 but I would be no where else.  My family has been so supportive.  My daughter has been here twice with us so far this trip but she’s trying to keep up her professional responsibilities that requires her to meet a billing quota . . . her life is in a confused state as she continues to go into her office and try and do her work all the while her mind is with her Gram and wanting to be near her … it’s such a juggling act b/t what you know you need to do and what you want to do b/c you know the clock is ticking and this person that is the center of so many lives will be taken from us forever.  That part I just cannot phathom but yet I’ve had all this time to prepare.  It seems the closer it gets to that part, the weaker I get.  I haven’t seen my husband since 3/27.  He retired January 8, 2012 and he’s busy trying to get a mediation practice off the ground.  I went from being concerned about my husband finding himself out of the busy professional world he’s been a part of for 27 years and him trying to find his second wind at a business life to my mom being stripped for me . . . 2012 has not been a year I would want to repeat under any stretch of the imagination.  Steve, I now know what you meant when you said you went to the door, crying, trying to communicate with I believe you said the yard man.  My mom is in a seniors community so about 6p around here, life slows way down as dinner is eaten and everyone seems to prepare for bed . .. I often find myself sitting on the patio or walking to the pool for a moment to reflect and often cry.  Gone is the chip in my head that makes me reserved to show sad emotion in public . . . it freely comes when the moment strikes.  I have no control.  It’s my dear sweet mother we are talking about so there are no guidelines for me to go by.  My mom wants to be cremated so I must make that phone call(s) at some point to get that lined up as I have had everything lined up and figured out to this point.  My daughter has bravely taken over the responsibility of preparing for the memorial service.  It will take place at the entertainment center/grand room of the facility for which she was the manager and where she had so many senior friends.  She has requested this service so that “her seniors” could have closure.  The owner of these senior communities is a dear friend of hers and is at the center of these plans.  Thank you for listening to me ramble Steve.  I treasure each moment with my mom.  Her pain is getting greater, her breathing more labored and circulation in her legs more painful but yet she wakes up with a smile on her face with her bald little head and a mouth full of teeth that are so loose it makes her quite nervous to eat food normally.  End stages of cancer is terribly ugly.  No way to sugarcoat.  I know her pain will only get greater and her awake/alert state will become less and less as she slowly stops eating and prefers instead to rest/nap.  What she has eaten the past 48 hours couldn’t keep a bird chirping and that part confuses me.  The doctor said she will slowly lose her appetite and until that point she’s to eat what she wants and do what she wants and now I understand that part.  She would never let me eat alone but it’s like the last 48 hours the great woman who raised and loved me is slowly being replaced by this frail little woman.  She has promised me and me/her that we will communicate when she makes her transition.  I believe in the spirit world and I do believe you can communicate with those you have strong ties to . . . I have never ever tried doing this but I refuse to let me mom go 100%.  I just cannot let go.  Thanks Steve for listening.

        • I was sharing the update with my wife, Pam. She wanted to pass on a hug to you as well.

          Your mother sounds like her pain is tremendous to need that level of medication. My Mom was on .25 of Morphine every two hours and once in a while .5 of Morphine when she had labored breathing. The medication that was a blessing at the end was the medication for agitation. It helped a lot.

          Your mother is so blessed to be in the facility she is in and surrounded by so many people that care and love her. How amazing.

          It sounds like the final breath is growing closer and there is not one thing I can tell you to prepare you for it. As hard as it will be, it’s an act of courage and love to be there and you should not miss it.

          Pam said you should hurry up and read “The Final Gifts” it was a huge help for us. You can download it off Amazon.

          And when the time is right this children’s book will resonate with you as well about your journey. If you get it you will see exactly what I mean at the end.

          I don’t think we ever let them go. Mom is still with me in ways and I’ve had a couple of dreams with her in it. In the dreams she is vibrant and joyful. She looks happy and glowing with joy as she waves to me.

          Right now Pam and I are at the beach, taking a few days away for the first time since September. While caring for Mom was a labor of love and a team effort, it’s utterly amazing how much life it sucked out of all of us. Between managing care, the death, and the aftermath it was so much to incorporate in a busy life already.

          And since my journey is a few stops ahead of yours what I can share, a month out after her passing, is that life does get better for my father, Pam and I. We’ve developed a new normal and refer to ourselves as the Three Musketeers.

          In fact I’ve watched my 81 year old father blossom as an individual. I got him back to playing tennis and he joined a tennis club where he now regularly plays with guys in his age bracket. My Dad is such a loving guy and a joy to be around. Most everyone that meets him, loves him. It wasn’t until recently that I realize how much of my father had been suppressed under the final journey of the cancer.

          Keep crying, keep loving, and keep the faith. I’m always here for you. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll actually get to meet and if so please redeem this virtual hug for a real one.


          • Steve, I am happy to hear you and your wife are relaxing for a change . . . what a wonderful thing.  I appreciate your references to reads and all of your comments . . . I absorb them like a sponge as each day brings something new . . . some good/some not so good.  My mom had the worst night last night.  Lower back pain and just really hurt all over.  She has denied a hospital bed in her home but I really think it could have helped her get comfortable last night.  Her pain meds keep increasing; however on some days, she tries to limit what she takes so she can stay awake and alert with me, my husband and her dear friends who check in on her.  We took her to dinner last night as she was really wanting to get out . . . and I find myself just watching her sip water thru a straw, take bites of food and literally just breathe as I know these things will be precious when she is no longer on this earth and in my life.  I feel like I’m in some fog . . . I’m waiting for something to happen but I don’t want it to happen . . . it’s so complicated to explain.  I wish I could take her pain away.  We’ve treated our pets who we consider family members more humane that I am able to provide for her . . . that’s very difficult.  Thank you for your words as the clock in my world keeps ticking and I keep wishing for my mom as many days as she can physically tolerate . . . nice thoughts your way.

          • I think about you and your mom every day. There is nothing more I can do now to help but just be here for you.

            It is so amazing how we’ve been on similar paths but with me just months ahead. Reading your words results in me flashing back to Mom’s last meal out and watching her try to eat. Those precious memories are polluted with the process of losing her, that came.

            I agree with your statements about human care versus pet care. I get it. Some make moral decisions that just being alive in terrible pain is more humane than a peaceful passing.

            Peace and blessings to you and your mother. Please give her a big hug for me. And give yourself one from me as well.

            The most caring and compassionate gift you can give your Mom is everything you are doing for her now.

          • Steve, I am replying out of sequence b/c I didn’t see a “reply” tab at the end of your last text.  It is Saturday evening, June 23, 2012 . . . well actually it’s 12:40a so technically it’s Sunday morning but for purposes of this text, I’m calling it Saturday evening.  My mom passed away tonight . . . hospice called it 6:56p.  She took her last gasp in my arms.  She was unfortunate on top of the disease of dying with bile in her mouth from the horrible tumors wrapping around her intestines, etc.  For most of the second half of the afternoon, she had the gurgelly sound in her chest which I’ve come to learn is the death rattle.  But also she had bile building up because of the tumor.  I pray to God that she didn’t suffocate from that b/c all I know she started physically gasping and I went to raise her up b/c I thought she was getting sick at her stomach, black bile came from her mouth and nose.  I’m sorry for being so descriptive but I think anyone reading our posts should get a clear view of the things that can possibly happen with this horrible horrible disease.  Mom learned of this dreadful disease when she was diagnosed February 7, 2012 and she died, peacefully, tonight, June 23, 2012.  Her last failed chemo treatment was March 28, 2012.  Most patient’s live an average of 64 days after the last chemo treatment, my mom lived 87 days.  She fought the most fearless battle of her life.  It amazed the doctor how she continued to show little pain but yet was under much pain medication b/c of the strength of the meds to control the breakthru pain.  What makes her bravery so evident is the fact up until Thursday, June 21st, she asked to be driven to a mall . . . she was not able to shop but she sat in the car while I ran in for something . . . given the fact that she became incoherent from pain and meds Friday morning, June 22, 2012, that proves to everyone just how much pain she was bearing jus to be with her family and friends.  Incredible.  I cannot explain the pain I feel.  And to think for one silly crazy second I thought it might be a relief for her to be out of pain and gone from the miserible life hers was drawing down to . . . what I would give to have her back in her bedroom or in her favorite chair asking me, “honey, can you please get me so and so” . . . that little sweet voice was precious and touched so many.  Hospice was absolutely incredible.  Incredible.  Amity Hospice in Dallas, TX is absolutely amazing.  Mom was in the care for just over 2 months and we felt so well-taken care of at all times.  Steve, I know you know my pain.  I cannot believe my mom is gone and no longer on this earth . . . I don’t think I still comprehend the magnitude that this will envelop me at some point.  I appreciate your kind words and companionship as we travelled this unwanted journey together in support of our mothers . . . I will never forget how your words would touch me on days when I felt like we were drowning in doctor visits, pills, shots, treatments, rashes, etc.  A person should never have to face this horrible disease alone.  I thank God that I was in a position on March 27th when I travelled to be with my mom, as I did for each chemo treatment, for her third chemo treatment only to learn it didn’t work and I wouldn’t be leaving her side until she took her final breath.  I have been away from my “normal” life for almost 3 months to walk beside my mom and hold her hand as this horrible disease slowly took her from me in many horrible ways.  I can honestly think that she felt she was never alone and that there was at least one person on this earth who valued her life more than anything else in this world during this time period.  I hope the Angels are welcoming her into the fold and that she will be communicating in some fashion with me as soon as she possibly can.  Thank you again Steve for all of your kindness.  As we and our families slowly heal from the devestating loss of our mothers, I hope we each take away the feeling of the common good in mankind when 2 people can communicate as we have and make such a mark having never even met or talked on the telephone.  Good luck my friend to you and your family . . . may the peace surround you all and may God keep his healing hand upon us all.  God bless:o)

          • I’m so sorry to hear that the end arrived. I’ve been thinking a lot about you this past week.

            Bless you for being there at the end and being with her to help her with the transition. I’m sure she was comforted knowing in some ways that you were there and she was loved.

            Just the other day us survivors over here were saying “can you believe it’s only been two months since Mom passed.” Our lives are now so radically different and we’ve found a healthy way to cope.

            My wish for you now is that whatever lies ahead you can celebrate her life and love for you and not get trapped in the sorrow of the loss. I need for you to move forward now. Others need you now.

            After Mom passed away Dad, Pam and I realized how much of our lives had been occupied in taking care of her in those final months. We were literally exhausted. It took at least a month to try to get back to caring for our own lives and feel rested again.

            Your Mom is now in a better place and absent any miracle cure she is now pain free.

            I just got this mental picture of our mothers meeting in heaven and my mom saying, “Hey, aren’t you Debra’s mother? That woman who has been chatting with my son? Welcome!”

            If I could wrap my arms around you right now and give you a big hug I’m positive we’d both wind up sobbing.

            Please come back and post an update as you move forward. It will help others who read this in the future.

            Your friend always,

  • Sadly the end is near. Thank God for Hospice.

    I’m not sure words can express how it feels to watch your mother lose a battle to ovarian cancer.

    • Steve, I am sad to hear the end is coming so quickly.  I hope your mom is comfortable as her journey ends. This is an ugly disease . . . I have hated it from the moment my mom was diagnosed . . . it’s just ugly.   I will say a prayer in your sweet mother’s honor . . . she has fought a courageous battle.  Bless you and your family during this time.

      • I saw your comment four hours ago and struggle on how to respond.

        Mom and I have had some very frank discussions. She told me she isn’t afraid to die and knows the end is near. I told her how much I love her and that she will never be forgotten.

        Frankly this may be more open than is comfortable for those reading this but the pain of slowly losing someone to this disease is so painful to watch in these final days.

        It impacts all of us around her. My 81 years old father will be left without his wife of 60 years. I will lose my mother. My daughter will lose her grandmother. My wife will lose her mother-in-law who she loves.

        I know this death thing happens every day but it doesn’t make it any less painful for me right now. I’ve rationalized it, dealt with it, accepted it and now I’m just most tired of crying. Hell, I’m crying writing this!

        But my mom is surrounded by love and people that desperately care about her. She’s lived a great life and as a teacher she had the privilege of changing lives for the better. Many of her students love her, except for the ones she gave detention to. But maybe some of those as well knowing she cared enough about them to give a damn.

        The paths we are on right now, you and me, are divergent. Hopefully your mother will beat her ovarian cancer and enjoy wonderful days ahead.

        For me, I need to just make it through the next week and find my way to let my mother go peacefully. Her final breath will come very soon I think.

        Please keep me posted on your mom.


        • Steve, your words are so heartfelt as I feel them in my soul.  We have shared alot thru regretable journeys where our paths crossed.  I know exactly where you are speaking from because although I am not at the point you and your mother are, I have cried many tears remembering so many happy moments in my life with my mother. And, as you so courageously pointed out, it is better to dwell on the happy times instead of living out our mother’s lives under the cloud of this miserable disease.  And although I try to live my life these days with my mom under that pretense, I still have incredibly sad moments when I feel like my heart is just being torn from me.  As you, I think about my family and their connections to my mom and what we are all losing in this moment to moment race we are on . . . the children that my daughter will have, God willing, that will never know their wonderful great grandmother, the retirement my mother will never get to enjoy, the holidays that will have a hole, and I could go on . . . but I want you to know you are not alone in your pain.  The journey we have been on seems to prepare us for the end that we are reminded is always there but yet I don’t think we are ever REALLY prepared . . . these are our mothers.  A relationship and bond similar to others in our life yet so different that any other we will ever know in our lives.  So take your moments to feel your pain as I know you will take the moments to enjoy the love . . . let yourself have your emotions as your mind, body and soul endures these end of days.  I am certain your mom will feel the peace that you will elude as you find that peace for yourself.  It sounds like your mom made quite an impact in her life and I am sorry that this ugly disease found it’s way to her . . . although it consumes us to deal with its daily demands, it will not define her as a woman on this earth.  Stay strong my NC friend and continue to love your mother thru this end as it is evident from your words you have your whole life.  I will continue to stay in touch as I hope you do.

          • I’m sitting in her room as I type this. One of us if with her now 24 hours a day. The end should be near.

            She is not in pain and I don’t expect her to regain consciousness at this point. The last thing she said to me was, “I love you.”

          • Bless her heart  . . . what a beautiful memory of her last sweet words to you . . . I know she is finding her peace to finally let go of her loving family knowing that you all will survive this pain.  Stay strong as you can as this is as tough as it will get.  You have stood by your mom thru her fight just as you are as she let’s go.  May God wrap his arms around you and your family and bring you the comfort and strength you need . . . my thoughts and prayers are with you.

          • I am so sorry Steve  .  . . I had this sixth sense this afternoon  The feeling was so powerful  I pulled up your site and found your blog  I feel weak at this moment like I knew your mom personally  I hope you and your family are being brave.  I am so thankful it was peaceful  I really read your texts to my personal knowledge as well as I know I will be in your shoes  Thank you for letting me know  I am truly thinking of you at this time  Stay as strong as you can.  You are such a mentor to me  I appreciate all you have shared.  Peace be with you

          • Steve, I hope life is finding a normal pace again . . . my mom was admitted to the hospital yesterday for a blood clot in her lung. Had consult with doctor this morning after scan performed yesterday morning to determine if chemo is being effective . . . it is not and my mom has decided to not seek anymore lifesaving options.  My daughter is flying in in the morning for about 5 days and then my husband is driving down end of next week so we can all support my mom . . . I hope this next journey is not painful for my mom and she is at least able to live out her life in peace and happiness . . . OVARIAN CANCER SUCKS;o(

          • I sense a bumpersticker in the making “Ovarian Cancer Sucks.”

            So sorry to hear about the return trip to the hospital. Your mother is very brave to make that toughest of decisions.

            I can’t stress enough how amazing our local hospice experience was. My suggestion is that you contact them as soon as possible and let them assist you in helping your mother to best enjoy her final days in comfort and peace.

            I’m so sorry to hear the update. Before my mom passed away I had shared with her the joint journey you were experiencing with your mom. It seems we truly are on similar paths.

            Speaking from experience, the toughest part is to come and I wish I had some magic to share to help. But as tough as it is, your mom has her best pal, you, there to help her on this journey.

            It’s hard to believe for me it’s been about three weeks since mom passed away. It feels like longer. Right now we finally got the death certificates and are dealing with all the legal notifications and contacting credit card companies, etc.

            We didn’t have a big memorial service for her and instead directed all contributions, in lieu of flowers, to Hospice to help support their work. Those days following her passing were tough enough. I can imagine having to have planned a big service and funeral.

            Mom wanted to be cremated so I had made some calls early to figure out costs and arrangements. I’m glad I had because dealing with that at the last minute would have been tough.

            Big hug and many blessing for you. I’m here for you.


        • Steve, I didn’t see a “reply” tab at the end of your latest text so I just went up and found a “reply” tab and that’s what I clicked on to at least give you a response.  I finally shared with my mom your mother’s decision and the final result.  That was so touching for me as I felt like I knew her thru your words.  My mom did not ask the question that I feared she would and that being “how long did his mom survive between the time she discontinued life-saving treatments and her departure.”  More than once I have gone back and read your words to remind myself what that window was.  I know every person and situation is different no matter the shared dreadful disease.  I already had a hospice service chosen and we had our initial meeting to confirm everything before we left the hospital.  Doctor has been over to answer any of my mom’s questions and begin her morphine treatment.  She was on oxycontin for baseline and vicoprophen for breakthru pain.  She has not been switched to morphine tab for baseline and morphine liquid for breakthru pain.  She was up and down all night last night.  I am reserved to communicate constantly with you as I only think that will have you reliving a part of your life that I’m sure you would like to file away.  Maybe I will communicate when major things happen just to see if you experienced the same or any light you can shine on the situation if it’s comfortable for you.  My daughter is here from Denver right now but she flies back on Tuesday.  My husband will drive down at some point.  My sister has fallen back to old ways and has moved out which makes my taking care of my mom much easier.  I know the hard days are ahead and I would like to say I prepared but I know I’m not.  Seeing my mom functional and happy is one thing and seeing her withdraw, stop eating and gradully withdrawing from life is not something you can prepare for.  I appreciate you responding as it really helps me for some reason.  Yes, I have already purchased several of the “ovarian cancer sucks” bumper stickers.  My mom, daughter and I have night shirts with that saying on it.  It’s a dreadful disease that affects one of the most beautiful people in our lives.  I’ve been told she could have been killed instantly in a car crash so I should at least consider the time I am being given now as a gift.  I do try to look at it that way and that does help.  Peace to us and our families always.

          • Don’t worry about keeping me posted on what is going on. I’ve always looked at these life events as learning opportunities that can help others. Who knows who will read this post and our comments and find comfort and help as well.

            My mom’s time was most likely cut short by the aggressive chemo. I’m not blaming the doctor, it’s what Mom wanted and insisted on. In fact the doctor kept telling her it was most likely not going to be successful and she was focused on wanting her to pursue quality of life over a treatment that was most likely not going to work.

            My mother was a very strong willed person and it would not be hard to imagine her willing a short time to pass once she felt like the end was near. She even asked me a week or so before is she was dying and when I asked her what she thought she said, “yes.” She knew.

            My regret is that Mom was never feeling well enough to video an interview where we could have asked her about her life. It would have been a blessing to have.

            You should never feel bad about asking me anything or contacting me. I’m here for you and the greatest benefit of my mother’s death would be that it be able to provide others some sort of help.

            One great tip we were given was that Mom should feel free to eat whatever she wanted and do whatever she desired.

            There are no words I can share to guide you through whatever remaining time there is other than to say that serving your mother now is the most loving thing you can do for her no matter how tough it is.

            But don’t feel bad about breaking under the pressure. The guy that mows my yard still thinks I’m nuts for crying on his shoulder a day or so before the end. When he asked me what he could do, all I could say between sobs was, “No leaf blower.”

          • I appreciate all of your thoughts and recounts of this journey with your mom.  We are still in the process of finding the right combination of morphine to keep mom’s pain at bay right now so she can enjoy shopping and trips out with me.  I keep her hopping best I can.  She wanted to take me and my daughter to Las Vegas for a girl’s weekend but seems that’s not a good idea with her history of the blood clot so I’m just coming up with fun things daily.  A video is great idea and I’m hoping to do that.  What a great idea.  My mom is having sharp pains and we are trying to get pain more controlled.  So far she has an appetite.  She’s getting cold alot.  She’s always kept her home temp in the frigid zone and lately, she’s wrapping up and I’m feeling stuffy.  She gets tired easy but she always wants to go when I go as much as she can.  The weather has been wonderful so sitting on the patio watching life is a great past-time.  Haven’t yet spoken to anyone about cremation as this is her desire as well.  She does want to have memorial service at the seniors community that she managed and was so loved so that organization and planning will be on my to do list.  Not looking forward to that.  I’m just enjoying this precious time with my mom right now.  She and I are having all the talks.  We are strong right now . . . we have moments but I know it saddens my mom when I am sad so I try to be strong as much as possible.  Hospice has been terrific and I admire their spirit and kindness and their interation with my mom.  Very admirable.  Thanks for listening.

          • The cold comment resonates with me. Mom got so cold on her last outing that three people gave her their sweaters and coats. When I got her home she had the heat set on 77. By the time I managed to wrestle her into bed that Friday, because she could not move, and cover her in five blankets I was a hot mess. 🙂

            I can only imagine how lovely that the memorial service for her will be at that community. What a special event it will be.

            When the end comes, these is nothing I can say that will prepare you for it. But being there, right there, holding her hand and telling her it was okay to go was an amazing moment I won’t forget. It was just hard saying good-bye, forever.

            Enjoy the outings, enjoy the days. I’m here for you.

    • Steve, this took my breath away when I read that your mom has made this most courageous decision to enjoy the rest of her days chemo-free.  God bless her and her bravery.  How are you? Please let me know how she is doing.  I am back in TX with my mom.  She was suppose to start her second round of chemo this past Monday but b/c of low platelets in lab last Thursday and a terrible unexplained rash, chemo has been delayed.  Had lab again on Monday and although platelets looked good, rash and then hives occurring.  I think she’s having allergic reaction to the hydrocodone.  We have an appointment to see the doctor this morning and he will make call of whether she can do chemo today.  We are also having a conference with doctor this morning to discuss my mom’s prognosis based on her first round of chemo since her body has been SO affected by side affects.  She’s still on pain meds as the pain is still with her although she was told after 2 weeks after the first chemo, she should be relatively pain free.  Steve, we started recording my mom’s weight beginning March 1st.  She started on that day at 165.  This morning she weighed in at 138.  If I had not personally been with her, I would have thought she was not eating right; however, I have purposely made sure she is eating and eating good weight-gaining meals.  This has me very upset.  My mom’s normal weight in her regular life has ALWAYS been from 152-157 NEVER this low.  Did your mother have rapid weight loss like this?  Steve thank you for your input.  I hope you are finding some peace in your mother’s brave decision.  I know you are beside her every step of the way. 

      • I appreciate the update on your mother and the kind words. So much.

        For my mom the weight loss happened as well. The hospice doctor told us that the cancer will take nutrition from her body along. She said that there was no need to force my mother to eat and that she should feel free to eat how much or how little of whatever she wanted.

        Mom says that the chemo just altered the taste of food and eating is just not as much fun as it once was. We are taking her out for lunch on Thursday to her favorite place and she’s looking forward to that. But probably mostly the experience.

        I’ve since learned that the cognitive impairment from the chemo she was getting was most likely not reversible. I think that’s what really prompted her to chose quality of life over continued chemo.

        Hospice is also providing us with a wheelchair so we can take her out and about when she can’t walk with ease. And I learned that treatment through hospice is covered 100% under Medicare Part A. Good to know.

        The pain is not something my mom experienced but my cousin did when she had chemo for breast cancer. I guess everyone reacts to it differently. But pain though, uck. Sorry to hear that.

        What was surprising for me is how each side of the decision about chemo has emotional parts to it. On chemo I was worried about how it was impacting her. Now that she’s made the decision to stop chemo for a better quality of her remaining life I now know that each day is one step closer to the inevitable end.

        I read once about a guy that lost his wife after 65 years together and the next day he was walking down the road whistling. A friend stopped and asked him if he was okay since he appeared happy and not inconsolable. He said, “I had 65 wonderful years with her and for that I’m grateful and that was a blessing.”

        Wouldn’t it be great if we could both have that viewpoint for our mothers.

        Please keep me posted.


        • Steve, I just shared your paragraph with my mom talking about the man who lost his wife of 65 years . . . you see, the past 10 years, at least, my mom, daughter and I have had an agreement that instead of being sad when we had to tell each other goodbye, lets think about the many happy moments we shared during the visit and depart on a happy note.  So when you told me that story, it really touched home with us because I had not yet thought about attributing that theory to this situation.  That is a perfect way for us to look at this . . . how wonderful!  I hope you, your mom and your family have a tremendously happy evening tomorrow.  As for my mom, they changed up her pain meds and gave her her second chemo today.  The doctor explained we are in a race at this point b/c the rapid weight loss is caused by the mass consuming all of the protein and nutrients my mom is ingesting . . . the only way to stop this process is to kill the tumor.  He said, for example, back in time before we had medical technology, if a person had a tumor . . . it would consume the person’s nutrients causing that person to starve.  That person would one day fall asleep and never wake up.  He said actually it’s a very peaceful way to die.  This was interesting to me.  My mom did the chemo today and we are just going to see how this one goes.  He said he believes that the day for us to have the conversation if chemo is causing more harm than good is not here yet but he does believe it could possible be in the near future if her body does not respond to the chemo or she suffers too many side effects.  It’s a daily life we lead right now my friend.  Again, enjoy your dinner with your mother.  :o)

          • Keep me posted on how she does following the chemo. The worst days for my mom were the second day after chemo. They just wiped her out.

          • Steve how is your mom? I have kidnapped my mom. We r at The Gaylord Texan. Less than 20 miles from her home but very nice change of pace. It’s a climate controlled completely enclosed shopping and hotel small world. Mom maintained her weight the first 24 hours after her second Chemo treatment but now shes lost another 1.5 lbs. How was your dinner night? I’m just enjoying being away with my mom today. Learned thurs morn that she has a hemmorage on her macula in her right eye. We r not dealing with that right now…she just laughed saying she will b a site for sore eyes with the bald head, awoken legs, loose teeth and now maybe patch over right eye … She said u have to laugh. So I’m following her lead. Let me know abt ur mom:).

          • Enjoy every day and opportunity you can.

            Having a background in ophthalmology, if it’s just a retinal bleed it might be able to be simply layered. If you have not done so already, see an ophthalmologist soon.

            Yesterday was the first trip out with mom using a wheelchair. She had a good time and loved her favorite soup at the place. I’m not sure how much she could actually taste of it but the memory of the taste was strong and put a smile on her face.

            Today the social worker stopped by for a visit, the first visit, from hospice. It’s just a great team hospice has that is taking care of every possible aspect you could imagine. I can’t speak highly enough about them.

            They let us know the same thing you already know, the weight loss will continue as the tumor “eats” more and more. Right now the big issue here in NC is her stamina. I think this morning was her last trip walking down the stairs and we are lucky to have a stairlift being installed this afternoon.

            Yesterday was when she should have had her next chemo and today one of her legs looked normal. No swelling. It was a pleasant surprise.

            We had a discussion today about the final arrangements I’ve already made and cremation. She’s happy with all of that. Overall, I’d say today is a good day. She’s up, out of bed, a little tired but laughing and getting along.

            It sounds like your mom has a great attitude and that’s really something to be thankful for isn’t it.

            In the next couple of weeks I don’t think we’ll have many negative changes here. I want to get her out more if I can.

            We are also going to interview her on video about all of her most precious memories so we can share that with other family and family not yet born.

            Give your mother a hug for me, please and tell her some strange guy in North Carolina cares about her.

          • Steve, my mom smiled when I told her I was giving her a hug from some “strange guy in NC”.  How is your mother today? Mom seems to be having less side effects than the first chemo.  We have gotten out and driven around some and she’s visited with some friends.  Getting out of the house has made her very happy.  I will probably fly back to CO on Wednesday if she continues to do well.  I plan to return the end of March.  She’s complaining of numbness in tingling in her feet.  The swelling has continued to stay away but she is breaking out and itching on her upper body with sores in her mouth.  She gargles alot with baking soda/water and salt water.  I read online that dabbing a little honey on the spots in her mouth can reduce the pain some.  Her weight actually increased the past 24 hours . . . the weightloss is a great concern of mine so I was glad to see a day of increase.  The amount of pills, etc that she takes has become a routine as has her life reached somewhat of a routine now.  We all know what lies ahead but we are taking advantage of every moment.  I dread having to leave her for a while but I just can’t abandon my family and life in CO . . . but they do not pressure me and understand my needing to be in TX and with my mother.  I wish I could just move here with my mom until this all plays out but I can’t ask that of my family . . . not yet anyway.  How is the stair lift working out . . . that really is the way to go for 2-story homes and restricted mobility.  How is your dad and the rest of your family coping?  My daughter has emotional moments . . . she is 28 years old and is informed and knows just what I and my mom know.  Thinking of you and  your family this Sunday evening . . . hope all has stabelized for awhile.

          • Mom lost most of the feeling in her feet following chemo. It never came back. It seems many of the symptoms of chemo have been irreversible for her.

            Sorry to hear about the mouth sores. That’s one we appear to have skipped over.

            The stair lift company was awesome. They installed it the same day and now she’s using it a lot. Eliminating the need for the stairs seems to help preserve some of her energy.

            For the most part I think we are coping fine. Our daughter has been spending a lot of time over there helping out so we are all getting a chance to play a role. That’s been very helpful.

            Best wishes to your mother that she has a great day today.

  • Steve, I just talked to my mom’s Chemo nurse and learned her CA125 # is 630.8. She will have another lab on wednesday and we will know a new CA125#. Debra

  • Mom was transported to the emergency room again yesterday by ambulance for being weak and in a fog following her most recent chemotherapy. We are going trough an interesting cycle at the moment. If the cancer doesn’t finish her first, the chemo will.

    • Steve, sad to hear this.  Was this her second chemo treatment?  I have no better news.  My mom is still in the hospital . . . the “stand-in” doc for mom’s normal obgyn oncology doc is not even an oncologist.  My mom thought she would be going home today after maybe removing fluid from her abdomen.  Stand-in doc indicated blood test reflected platelets still low so giving her transfusion today.  I asked about white blood cell count and she said although she didn’t have chart in front of her, she thought that was normal.  So I asked about removing the fluid and she said she knew nothing about this.  So frustrated not the word.  My mom not happy to still be in the hospital although you and I both know this is the best place for our mothers when their health/numbers isn’t where they should be.  Mother’s hair is starting to come out which we weren’t expecting to happen until next weekend.  Appointment to pick up previously ordered wig is Tuesday so we missed the mark a little here.  Mom is trying to keep that issue light asking if I will be ready to see my Kojak mother when I arrive back to see her.  I know exactly what you mean . . . live your last days suffering from the cancer or prolong your days suffering from the chemo . . . it’s a very, very, very fine line.  One we all juggle while our sweet, sweet mothers hang in the balance.

      • This was her fourth treatment on her third round of chemo since 2009. I just found out she is going to be discharged tomorrow and we will bring her back home. And it begins again.

        A good wig makes a big difference.

        Big hug to you.

        • Wow. I had no idea that ur mom has been fighting this disease for so long. I truly respect ur advice. Has she had long stretches of good days? Were the beginning Chemo cycles mire difficult that they r today or have they gotten increasingly difficult. It has to take such a toll. Very interested to hear her story. Wow.

          • Understanding everyones situation is different, here is what she’s gone through.

            The initial round of chemo following surgery was not too bad. She had the typical hair loss and our first head shaving experience. The best thing she did was get a wig that matched her hair color and was cut to her style, before she lost her hair. It came back curly which was a funny change.

            Following the end of the first round she decided she didn’t really like the oncologist which led her to search for another solution. She found a clinical trial and embarked on that in the following year. I totally understand she wanted to search for a miracle cure but I think that was a huge mistake, and told her so at the time.

            There are so many congenital and proven paths to follow first. I urged her to find a different oncologist. The clinical trial was not successful and the cancer advanced.

            Finally I persuaded my parents to move down to Raleigh and they were able to buy the house next door to me. Raleigh is the home to some incredible healthcare with Duke and UNC Chapel Hill right here. She is under the care of a leading gynonc but her cancer is now so advanced that it is only a matter of time at this stage.

            She’s currently fighting the emotional battle of trying to decide between stopping chemo, which seems to be killing her, and managing her symptoms to enjoy the rest of her life. For now, she’s sticking with chemo even though her doctor has told her she will not be able to get ahead of this.

            If anything the last two events of calling the rescue squad and taking her to the ER have helped prepare us a bit for the end when it comes. We now even have our places and routing. Dad waits for the ambulance in the driveway, Pam gathers the medication list and stuff we need, and I hold her hand and tell her I love her and she won’t be forgotten.

            In between round one and round two there were months of better days. There were good times.

            My most important advice is for you to keep track of her CA125 levels as an indication on how fast things are moving, and in what direction. Secondly, find her a local gynecological oncologist that she likes and has an amazing staff when it come to communication with you and your mother.

            Hope that helps.


          • Steve that does help. You know a person’s choices during this ordeal are like shots in the dark. My mom has an ob/gyn oncologist in Dallas tx that she is happy with. Me, not so much. It looks like my mom will b leaving the hospital today. Your mother’s story really helps. I know the choices are my mom’s to make as in your case. All we can do is give our opinion when asked, direct best we can and take care of all other things that’s ez for us to do compared to what they r battling. I pray your mother finds the comfort and peace she seeks. I conto ur to b interested in your journey. Because of my moms late stage along with her anurisms, she is further along in her journey than most people starting out. That’s why I was so surprised how long ur mom has been fighting. That confirms to me how advanced my mom really is. Thanks for sharing!

  • I hope your mom endured her chemo and is tolerating the day after okay.  My mom is still in the hospital . . . they admitted her on Thursday and seems she may be in there until Sunday.  They have performed several tests to rule out blood clots.  All tests have come back good.  One last test not back yet is of her pelvic area.  Learned this morning they are about to blood transfusion b/c of low platelets.  Then they will drain excess fluid from around her abdomen and wrap her legs to help reduce swelling.  She will probably be in the hospital until Sunday . . . so sad.

    • Sounds like we are both on the same path. I’m a few weeks ahed of you. My mom elected to not wrap her legs and they are swollen. It appears some have had similar symptoms with the swelling due to block lymph channels.

      After the transfusion she will feel so much better. It’s a good thing.

      My mom now has a permanent port in her abdomen from which we get to drain fluids at home. Joy.

      Did you get you mom’s CA125 numbers yet?

      • I’m comforted to know that the side effects my mom is enduring is common.  It is so nice to talk to you as we both travel down this unknown road at the same time . . . it may not make a difference in the outcome but it helps to know someone is there with us.  I will certainly as the doctor about that permanent port in the abdomen.  I have been advised to hold off making my trip back to be my mom’s side b/c this transfusion will make her feel better and my mom already wants me there for her next chemo treatment if her numbers allow the chemo to take place as planned.  I have also been advised that I will be required to be there continously at some point, which I understand.  I keep having to repeat things to my sister because she has problems with being addicted to medication and she refuses to take a drug test so I am assured it is safe for my mother to be transported by her.  Since she refuses the drug test, I do not allow her to drive my mother and instead rely on dear family friends or hospice company when I am not there to drive her myself.  It’s funny, well maybe funny is not the adjective to use, how all these dreaded family issues are brought to the surface in medical crisis situations.  I wish I could stop being so angry with so many things but in time I will.  I come from a family of attorneys and one uncle and my sister, not attorneys, tested me this morning asking why my mom’s disease was not detected in her annual exams from year’s past.  I can understand my uncle’s question buy my sister??????  You see the day we had the meeting with the doctor where he explains my mom’s diagnosis and all the suggested treatment options, he also explained the answer to this question.  You see the day we had that meeting with all of our family present, my sister kept getting up/down going in and out of the meeting only to learn later she said she was sick at her stomach.  Come to find out she had taken 2 xanax that day on empty stomach.  No, she is not prescribed these, this is part of her problem.  Plus, I guess because of her drug use, she cannot remember anything.  I apologize for going off . . . so frustrating.  Anyway, the RN who is set up to take care of my mom thru home health care called me yesterday to find out the status of my mom.  She sort of felt me out a little to see how frank she could talk to me.  I told her to shoot from the hip . . . that is what I have asked of everyone since this diagnosis was made.  She said she’s been doing this for 35 years and she just wants to make sure my mom is not put into some prolonged series of chemotherapy treatments if her body is not responding well.  I told her that I am staying on top of every treatment and result and am in constant communication with the doctor and his nurse.  She said she feels that my mom’s prognosis is not a positive one based on where she was when she started everything and how she is progressing.  She said that she will continue monitoring my mom as I and my family request but she just wants me to always know where we stand.  This is such a difficult line to stay balanced upon.  I want my sweet mom’s end of days to be happy and few or as many as we might have.  I don’t want little moments of time in between hospital stays, doctor visits, chemo treatments and lab treatments.  I pray for a way to understand where we go and how we do it.  Thanks friend for this outlet.  I may be repeating myself but I only found your site when I googled “ovarian cancer sucks” . . .

        • Steve, after finally taking the time to scan your internet site I know that our ongoing conversation about our mother’s plights is probably better to be had in private as we desire.  My email address is [email protected] if you would like to continue our conversation and ongoing status updates of our mothers and this journey.  No pressure as I don’ t know you or you/me.  I pray that your mother, my mother and all women enduring this horrible disease can do so with grace and dignity.

        • My mom isn’t making great choices right now. She understands this is all not going to end well and the chemo makes her terribly sick, yet she insists on continuing rather than making a choice to enjoy her final time.

          It was the same issue in my case, my mother was fairly symptom free until she was diagnosed with stage III. But then my mother-in-law passed away from pancreatic cancer which is really hard to detect early.

          The CA125 levels will give you a good barometer on how fast things are moving. It’s been a good measurement to have.

  • Steve, you took so many words from my mouth.  My mom went from being a fine, normal, happy 64 year old one day to within literally a week starting very strong chemo because of a mass diagnosed as Stage IV Ovarian cancer as well as 2 aortic anurisms having been discovered during the same scan.  Surgery not an option because of anurisms.  My mom is in great pain.  It hurts me to see her in so much pain and see her weak body being poisoned by the chemo drugs and all the many prescriptions and over the counter drugs she has been regulated to.  Normal for the two of us now is far from what it use to be.  We were happy go lucky shoppers living life in the moment and planning for her retirement.  In one instant, retirement planning has become a mere wish for I know sooner or later this dreadful disease will take my sweet mother from me.  As you and your mom, we have had the end of life talks and what she wants done with her ashes.  My mom is strong and understands all that is happening.  But I fear the more drugs she is put on, the more I will lose the mom I know.  But I, like her, am trying to prepare the best I can.  What else can we do . . . walk around pissed off and questioning everything . . . . believe me, I have these moments as well.  It takes time to wrap your head around what becomes our normal.  Our mothers are everything.  Your pain and my pain are real and we must find a way to understand so that we can live on this earth when our sweet mothers are taken before us.  May you find the strength you need as I find my own.  I suppose someday we will understand but in this moment, I just don’t. Good luck to you and your mother’s journey . . .

    • We met with hospice yesterday and discovered they have a wonderful home care program as well as palliative care that might be a good option for you to look into.

      If you contact your local hospice, ask them about support groups for caregivers. You may have something in your area as well.

      The tough decision is when do you stop treatment to enjoy a better end of life experience?

      • Steve, that is the exact spot we are in at this time.  I have already talked and have chosen a hospite group to take care of my mom when that times come.  As I’m sure you have been told, as long as a person is seeking life prevention care (and chemo falls in that category), hospice cannot step in.  My mom traded the pain from the mass from a multitude of pains from the chemo . . . and we are dealing with an incurable disease.  I could go on and on but bottom line is I just want to give my mom what she has always asked for and that is quality of life over quantity b/c to be honest, her life right now is full of pills, doctor visits, needle punches, etc.  The fine line of deciding when to stop the “life saving” devices is one only the patient can make, I know . . . it’s very, very difficult to watch your mom suffer so much.

        • Talk to your local group and see if they also offer a palliative care program like ours does. It’s for people ahead of the regular hospice program. They have an MD of Nurse practitioner that comes to the house and coordinates meds, care, etc.

          • Thanks for the heads up.  I’m making note of that right now.  How is your mother now? It’s so nice to talk to someone who is where I am and can actually relate.  I’ve entered some of the chat rooms for the American Cancer Society things but it’s a little overwhelming.  My mom, as we speak, is laying in a room in an ER in Medical City Dallas because doctor thought this would be quickest way to expedite test results.  She wheezing and one leg sweeling more than the other so he’s concerned that there’s a blood clot.  He wants to rule that out before prescribing anything.  I can’t imagine that my mom could swallow one more freaking pill but who I am to say.  I’m just the daughter watching my wonderful mom suffer.  I am currently at my home in Denver where I came to take care of things before returning to my mom’s side for next chemo treatment.  Doctor said if she’s just having reaction to cancer, he will treat her and send her home.  If it’s a blood clot, that’s a whole other “can of worms”.  Hope you and your mom have had a “good” day.  My prayers are with you . . . but then that’s another subject . . . I’m at that angry stage . . . I don’t understand the God’s plan excuse for everything that is happening right now . . . seems that is what people are telling me most often right now.  That I might not understand now but God says that I will someday. 

          • Thanks for asking how my Mom is.

            She’s off for another round of chemo in the morning. I’m expecting this one to kick her butt. It’s only been a week since the last treatment and it knocked the stuffing out of her last weekend. At least we didn’t have to go to the ER this time.

            She’s having the leg swelling as well. What made a huge difference recently was a transfusion in the ER. It really boosted her energy.

            I feel your pain and there is nothing I can say to make it better. We all stumble through different emotions and states as we deal with this.

            I gave up looking for a reason why she has cancer. For me it just is what it is. I’ve reached the acceptance stage and it feels much healthier and allows me to appreciate the small victories in her day rather than to be debilitated with all the other emotions.

            When her final breath comes I’ll be deeply sad but she lived the life she wanted and for that I’m thankful.

            Here is the strange thing others can’t relate to right now. My life, and probably yours consists of living wills, and the DNR statement I now carry in my wallet for the moment that is necessary. Tough decisions and times are coming. They will be impossibly hard but I’ll face them head on, for her, when she can’t.

            For now her CA125 level dropped a bit since the last chemo. What’s your Mom’s CA125 level at?

            Last thing you need to know and remember, you are not alone in this, I’m here if I can be of any assistance at all. You’ve got a cancer buddy. 🙂

  • My mother nursed my great-grandmother through ovarian cancer.  She would have been only about 35 at the time.  I’ve always remembered that as a great act of love.  I’ll be praying for your mother, family and you.  May you feel God’s presence through it all.

  • I sympathize with your situation.  My mom had a stroke in 2006 and lost her ability to communicate.  Over the next 6 months, I watched my mom slip away, as our roles became reversed.  It was a very challenging time to say the least, as is what you are going through now.  At least when all is said and done, you will have peace knowing you were there for her and did everything you could.  No one can blame you for focusing on your family at this time.  We’ll still be here 🙂 Kind of puts the whole money thing in perspective though.  Today I know what’s REALLY important!

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