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My beautiful mother is gone - Pneumonitis related


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She passed away on March 28, 2005.

She’d been experiencing shortness of breath and a fever for a few days, so I called the cancer center on March 17. Their response was "if it gets worse, take her to emerg." I then called the home care nurse who was kind enough to come by on an extra visit and have a look. She called the same cancer center nurse who then made a visit with the doctor possible.

Upon arrival, they seemed nonplussed until seeing her O2 at 90%. They admitted her saying that it could be pneumonia, radiation pneumonitis, or an infection. She was having real difficulty breathing.

Long story short, they finally started steriod treatments EIGHT days later on Good Friday for pneumonitis. I slept in the hospital bed next to he on Good Friday just in case she needed me as things didn’t look good. I barely slept a wink and helped her several times to go to the washroom as she couldn’t do it herself.

Saturday was a better day. She could breathe better. On Sunday morning I got a call from a doctor new to the hospital saying they were moving her to ICU as her breathing was worse. When I got to the hospital, she seemed better. The nurse told me her EKG showed some heart event type damage but she seemed fine. After talking and sitting with her for a while she went silent. Things went crazy with nurses scrambling and sending us out of the room. . They came out in the hallway to tell us she’d had a stroke, and they gave us a chance to hug her before taking her down to ICU.

We spent hours at her side and though she was sedated/not conscious, could feel hand squeezes when we asked for them. Seeing her on the respirator was agonizing. It was almost as if mom had already gone.

We had to make a decision about DNR if she had a heart attack that night. We said do not resuscitate. The doctors had told us the stroke was bad enough to leave her speechless, and paralyzed on the left side. Would she want to be in palliative care if she was able to be revived, and even then, there was still the cancer to bear in mind.

The next day, we asked about removing her from life support. We would have had to make the decision in the next few days anyway, but mom would not have wanted to be on the machines even now. We finally made the decision at 10:30 p.m and all went in to be with her as she left us. 45 minutes later she was gone. I held my mothers hand as she died, but a huge part of me died as well that night. I’m empty and have been crying all week. It’s just not fair for someone to have fought so hard through chemo and radiation to be brought down by a stroke that could have been prevented. I honestly feel that the hospital and doctors have been negligent. Had they started treatment earlier, perhaps her heart wouldn’t have had so much stress put on it and perhaps the stroke would not have happened.

The week since has been a nightmare. I love my mom so much I would have gladly given my life up for hers to continue. I feel cheated. I’m angry at Cancer, and the procrastination of the doctors who should have known to bring my mom in for pneumonitis testing 6-8 weeks after chest radiation.

These doctors have to learn that cancer does not take weekends on holidays off.

As a result, I sit here on the day that I’ve buried my mother, wondering how I’ll ever be able to move on from this. She was the most important woman in my life, and I’ve never loved anyone as much as I did her. I hope she is in a better place, because I’m in hell right now.

For my friends out there going through radiation, YOU MAKE SURE YOU KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR DOCTORS TO LOOK FOR SIGNS OF PNEUMONITIS, and push them as much as necessary.

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Iam so sorry to hear about the passing of your mom. Your heart is broken, I can read that, but it will mend in time. Please know that. And also know how much she loves you and would not want you to be grieving for a long period of time. She would not want to see you unhappy, and to go on with your life.

At least now she is pain free and at peace. Her diseased physical body has expired but that beautiful soul of hers lives on. She will always live on in all those wonderful memories that you both shared.

One day far down the road when it is time for you to pass, she will be there with open arms caressing you and helping your with your transition.

Do not feel quilty in any way. This is what your mom wanted, you respected her wishes, and for that she is eternally grateful.

Peace be with you.


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I'm so sorry for your loss. I believe that this came too sudden and you must be very saddened and angry at this moment. Sorry........ :(

Yes, I absolutely agree. We need to be proactive for avoiding any delayed treatment and diagnosis. Medical team have to be pushed. In my dad's case, we the family members were very annoying and pushing hard as their resources are very limited, if we didn't fight for it, they will not care.....

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I am so so sorry for the loss of your dear mother..I know how you feel, my precious dad lost his battle with LC because of radiation pneumonitis.. His radiologist would not discontinue his treatment because he said there was no way he could have pneumonitis because it usually doesnt occur until weeks or months after treatment..Well, he was wrong my dad developed it during treatment, my dad stopped his treatment on his own against the doctors wishes..

What I really wanted to say is I know the devastation this is bringing to you, its hard so hard to think over and over in our heads what could or should have been done differently, our thoughts take us to places we would rather not be...

I struggle still every day accepting what happened to my dad, time has helped a bit however the wound is still there.. When I was reading your post I could feel the pain you are in and just want you to know I understand and hope you can find some peace and somehow begin to heal.....

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I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. I can tell from your post how agonizing it was for you at the end.... to make such decisions is just so incredibly hard and I ache for what you are going through now. Please know that you will get a little stronger with each passing day... I pray for that for you. I am sure your Mom knows you did everything in your power to look out for her.... sometimes, we have to say "things happen for a reason" we may not know the reason right now, but I firmly believe that somewhere down the road, the reason will be revealed to us. Again, I am so sorry. Love, Sharon

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I'm so terribly sorry that your Mom has died. Please accept my heartfelt sympathies and know that my prayers are with you and your family at this time.

Your pain comes right through in your posting. I know there are many unanswered questions and that you naturally, feel very angry right now. Take the time you need to just survive the here and now. When you are ready, you can re-examine the events that led to your Mom's death with a little distance and some perspective.

Through these difficult times, love (and take care of) yourself the way you loved your Mom.


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