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A friend's journey with cancer


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During the majority of the last 16 months, I didn't know about lungevity or any other cancer support site, for that matter. Having already belonged to a pretty tight knit hunting forum, I reached out to those friends for support. A number of those people were involved with cancer in one fashion or another. One particular family has been the Randalls from Arkansas, (Rich and Linda). Linda started with breast cancer. Here is Rich's latest report...

"Once again, I am awed by the love and support that comes from all of you. When I tell others about this place they just look at me and can't understand or comprehend how people from an internet board could be so kind and so wonderful. I suppose it does sound strange to anyone who has not ever been here. But, I'm sooooooooo glad you are all here. I also want to apologize again for not being here for so many others who have problems of their own. I'm afraid I have become a recluse as I've struggled with this mostly because I feel guilty about burdening you with it.

We had a pretty good week-end. The kids and grand-kids (ages 13 - 18 ) showed up last Thursday and stayed until Monday morning. Linda is their step-mother/step-grandmother but they love her as much or more than they do their real mother's/grandmother's. Likewise, she would give up anything for any one of them.

She had told me she wanted them to come now to see her. She did not want them coming at a later date when she might not be able to talk and visit with them. We had a great time but Monday morning - the day they left - was really tough. She knew and, the grand-kids new, it would probably be the last time they would see each other. So it was truly a time to say good-bye.

They all gave her a ton of hugs and kisses and they all cried a lot. She told them, "I would have had a good life without any of you in it but because I have had you in my life it has been the most wonderful anyone could ever ask for." She also told each one of them how special they were and pointed out their very special individual talents. She is really an outstanding grandmother.

My son and daughter will be back but the grand-kids will not.

She has been taken off all chemotherapy and is home all the time now. Hospice is here and they are wonderful. They have supplied us with a hospital bed, porta-potty, walker, etc. and a nurse comes on a daily basis to check on her. We have had a parade of volunteers, social workers and aides traipse through our door. Local folks have provided food, money, love and hope. I am really impressed with Hospice and I am "REALLY" impressed with the people who live in Harrison, Arkansas.

A multitude of friends have asked if they can come to visit and I have had to start a calendar to schedule the arrivals. Folks from Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Washington, Idaho, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and of course Arkansas will be here this month. I didn't even know we knew that many people. I'm afraid I am going to have to post visiting hours.

She has good days and bad days. Monday she failed to take an anxiety pill and consequently, went into a panic. The panic stilted her breathing and of course she panicked more. I had to call the Hospice nurse and she gave her some morphine. The morphine calmed her and opened her air passages which helped her to breath and she finally got some sleep.

Sleep is something she has been short of for the past several months. I think she has been afraid to fall asleep because she thinks she might not wake up. The only way she has been able to get any good sleep is if we go for a ride. Just like a baby she sleeps in the car as long as it is moving but as soon as I stop she wakes up. You will not believe how many trips I've made to Springfield, Missouri these past months. We almost made it to Cabool, Missouri one time but her oxygen tank was running low so I turned around and came home. Yep, she is on oxygen 24/7 now which creates some problems of its own. We had a power outage at 3:00 a.m. a couple of weeks ago and I had to get up and hook her to a portable tank. That worked but I only had three tanks left and they were each good for about 2 hours. Fortunately, the oxygen company got us 10 more tanks early that morning because the power was out until 9:00 that evening.

She has lost about 65 pounds and just barely has enough strength to use a walker to make it to the bathroom. Of course, making it to the bathroom is a good thing because there will come a time when she will not be able to. The cancer has gone into her lungs and has created tremendous breathing problems. That is why she is on the oxygen and also the reason for her updrafts (breathing treatments). She has congestive heart problems and the cancer in her lymph nodes has caused them to swell so much that they are cutting off oxygen and blood to her brain. That is another reason why she wanted to see the grand-kids now because eventually she most likely will not be very lucid. She is already repeating herself and forgetting things.

We do not know how long she actually has but each day I see a lessening of her strength and will. The doctor's have given her three months at the most.

Myself - I am a total wreck. I live in fear each day of waking up to find her not awake. Although I understand this is life (you live and you die) and, I know I will get to see her again some day it is still hard. It is difficult to understand why it has to be her. It is also difficult to understand why it isn't me. I suppose only God knows and it is not for me to understand but, to just accept with faith. I'm trying really hard to do that but I fall short very often.

Anyway, it looks like I've written a novel here. I'm sorry but it seems I must have needed to do so. I actually feel better now that I've expressed a lot - not all - but a lot of it. I'm not sure any of you do though.

But, again - Thank you for letting me do it and thank you for being here for me - and her. "

I feel horrible for Rich and Linda and their family. They have been such good support for me, but now the only thing I can offer them is prayer during their time of hopeless ending. I do not like this at all.

Will

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Will,

I'm sorry for all the things your friends are going thru. I will say a prayer for them and hope that the days as gentle and as comfortable and peaceful as they can be.

I'm sorry.

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When I checked the forum this morning I found that Rich had been there in the very early hours.

« Reply #128 Today at 2:23 »

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This may seem odd to many of you but, for some reason I find solace in writing and so I am going to do so.

I lost her at 7:45 this evening. I thought I had cried a lot throughout all this but the tears will just not stop now. I love her so very much and my heart is so broken. She was truly the light of my life and the dimness I feel at this moment is overwhelming.

I have been at her side almost constantly these past three days and I have poured my heart and soul out to her in hopes that I could somehow convey the depth of my love. I so hope she left me knowing how I truly feel about her.

I read the past posts and the tears flowed even harder. I am truly blessed to have such friends as you. I was especially impressed with the fact that Junior is such an eloquent poet. Who knew, huh????????

She did not feel any pain when she left. She fluttered her eyes, took a short breath and just flew away. I actually was glad. She is not suffering anymore and she is with others who love her. But, I must confess I am more than a little jealous of them.

The Hospice people were wonderful and they took some time to get here. It was as if they knew I would need a little more time with her before they had to take her away. It was good they did because it gave me an opportunity to find a little composure. But, when they took her from the house I followed them out and I'm afraid all my great composure flew out the door.

They had parked in our driveway next to two large oak trees we have there. These two trees were very special to Linda. Anytime we had family with us they could never leave until she positioned all of us beneath those trees to take a picture. She would get us all set up, punch her shutter and run like mad so she could be in it with us. I can still see her hurrying before the shutter snapped.

As I stood there beneath these two trees that memory of her running toward me became so powerful I actually felt like it was really happening. No control after that. I just lost it.

I'm so sorry to have to write this but I know you will understand that it is just something I need to do.

There will be a memorial service but I'm not quite sure yet when or even where but, I will be sure to let you all know.

Thank you so much for being here for me. You are all the most special people and my life is so enriched because you gave me the opportunity to be a part this and to get to know you. May God love you all and shower you with blessings beyond compare.

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So the flag flies at half mast at the "House Of Banned Brothers" today. God Bless the Randall family.

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