Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How much life changes in one year

It is so hard to believe that just one year ago mom went in to the hospital for what was supposed to be a routine surgery. I talked her to her that morning on my way to work and her way to the hospital. I reminded my boyfriend to say an extra prayer for her that morning. I got to work and taught my students Spanish something. I was trying to be engaging, but kept thinking about mom. After my second block class let out at 11:10, I checked my phone to see if I had messages. I had a text from Katie saying mom was out of surgery. A little while later during my planning block Katie called me right as two of my students came to my room to ask me some questions about a project I had just assigned. She told me the doctors had found cancer. I was sitting in my classroom chair flabbergasted. I felt my face getting hot and I didn't want to flip out in front of my students. Katie told me that dad wanted her to wait until after I left work to tell me so I wouldn't have a tough afternoon, but she knew that I would want to know right then and there. I hung up quickly and just started crying in front of my students. I don't know how I made it through the rest of the day, or the three-hour teacher seminar after school. That day was so gut-wrenching. Every day since then has been gut-wrenching to one degree or another.

Just a few days before mom's Monday operation I was on the phone with her as I was getting ready to go to a friend's wedding. She was trying to sound upbeat and interested about what I was wearing and who would be there etc. But in the middle of talking she burst into tears and said she was just in so much pain. I remember telling her that Monday was just a few days away and wasn't it good that she would be having the operation so her pain would go away. Little did we know that it would only go away after a hellish year of treatments, all to end with her moving on to the next life. I would probably have spit in anyone's face if they'd told me that then.

Life changes so quickly. One second can determine the rest of your life, let alone a day, week, month or year. I am so bitter about cancer and always will be. One thing despite it all that I'm happy about is all the time I got to spend with mom this past year. Thank God for my teaching job and the schedule that allowed me to go to Florida so frequently. We had some bad times and some good times and some fun. We got to talk a lot about what matters most in life.

Don't put off for tomorrow what you can to do today. Tell your family you love them. Call up an old friend. Let go of grudges. Try something you've always want to. Help someone. Smile. Laugh. Live. Because next year you-or they may not be around anymore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Attention all Floridians!

Celebrating Martha

She lead an amazing life on earth
and is now tending to new gardens in her heavenly home

Come celebrate her life, her journey, her legacy ...

Saturday, September 19, 2009
10 a.m.

The Pavilion on Lemon Bay across from Englewood Beach
Behind 1855 Gluf. Blvd.

Refreshments and fellowship following
at Martha's favorite local spot:

Gulfview Grill
2095 N. Beach Rd.

Aloha wear encouraged!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Walk to Break the Silence 2009

Saturday Katie and I went to the National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month run/walk in South Boston. It was the most beautiful 5K I have ever participated in. There was a wave of turquoise and so many people supporting the cause. Unfortunately the supporters significantly out numbered the survivors. Everyone had a great attitude and it was so awesome to see so many people (I have no idea how many) come together to fight against this nasty disease. The course was all along the waterfront and there was a nice breeze. There was even a Chowda van from Legal Seafoods dishing out chowder to the participants at the end of the event! Jake, Katie's dog huffed it with her and stretched out in the backseat of the car on the way home.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy 51st, Mom!

We know you are celebrating in a much better place! Miss you!

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's hard to believe . . .

That one year ago, Mom had an appointment with her gynecologist to go over the test results from a transvaginal ultrasound and biopsy. The ultrasound showed some kind of tumor and the pathology came back irregular but non-cancerous. The diagnosis one year ago was a benign fibroid tumor in the uterus.

Here is an excerpt from an email from Mom:

"My body is producing too much estrogen which is making a fibroid tumor (NO CANCER) in my uterus to grow (size of a tangerine) and cause the pain I have been experiencing. Stress related! No surprise. What I wasn't prepared for was the doctors recommendation of a hysterectomy!

Then on Monday I received a call from my gynecologist that my I have an abnormal pap smear result (atypical glandular cells) and that I need to have two biopsies. Uterus and Cervix. In the mean time I have a return check up with my gastro. Dr. and he advises me to go off the aleve/ibuprofen regiment that I was taking to control the pain. Toxic! I felt as though I was 10 months pregnant and I thought I was going to burst."

What's the bottom line?

Even modern medicine isn't fool proof.

Know your body.

Know your symptoms.

Help spread the word.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month!

GO TEAL in September

Wear teal in remembrance of Martha

...On her birthday: Friday Sept 4, 2009

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Know your body. Know the symptoms. Help spread the word.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New therapies for ovarian/peritoneal cancers on the horizon . . .

From "Mass High Tech Biz News"

Researchers at MIT are manufacturing tiny artificial viruses out of biodegradeable polymers and injecting them into mice with tumors. The goal is to come up with a treatment for late stage ovarian cancer. And it just might work.

“We’re very excited. We can cure mice. We want to treat people but there are a lot of steps until we get there,” said Daniel Anderson, the lead researcher on the project.

The research is part of the growing field of nanotherapy, a research area that has the potential to create an arsenal of new cancer drugs that attack only the sick cells, leaving the healthy cells alone. It’s a revolution that could some day put an end to the 6 to 8 hours-long chemotherapy infusions, the hair loss and the nausea that are routine for many who battle cancer today.
Ovarian cancer is an elusive therapeutic target. Early detection is rare because the symptoms, like fatigue and abdominal pain, are common to many different illnesses. When a patient is diagnosed, the most common course of treatment is surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemo. But the tumor often comes back.

Anderson’s treatment involves injecting a nanoparticle, made of an artificial virus and therapeutic DNA, directly into the patient’s peritoneal cavity, which houses organs including the liver, spleen and ovaries. Viruses are good at weaseling their way into cells, so they are a good way to deliver DNA or other therapies in a targeted way, directly into certain cells. But the immune system eventually figures out how to battle real viruses, so Anderson makes his from biodegradeable polymers. The nanoparticle delivers a gene that is engineered to kill cancer cells and leave others alone. Anderson said, “The ultimate goal is for the treatment to replace chemotherapy, but in the early stages we will look toward advancing the treatment as part of a combination therapy.”

MIT’s Anderson and his team are looking to partner with another academic institution to do a Phase 1 clinical trial for their ovarian cancer treatment in humans over the next year to two years. His team has also been in contact with potential corporate partners. The team would then file an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is the first step in a long regulatory process.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Martha's Memorial Services

Celebration of Life
St Matthews Episcopal Church
Narragansett Avenue
Jamestown Rhode Island

Tuesday, August 11th 2009

Interment to follow at Cedar Cemetery in Jamestown
Reception at 64 Pemberton Avenue

* * *

Englewood Beach/Gulf View Grill
Englewood Florida
Saturday September 19th 2009

A New Journey Begins

At 3:27AM Saturday August 8, 2009, angels appeared at Pemberton Avenue in Jamestown and whisked Martha off to tend to the beautiful gardens in Heaven. The current residents there now have more to celebrate as they welcome Martha to grow new roses and plumeria and butterfly bushes. Although those of us left on this planet are faced with the grief and sadness of her moving on, we shall delight in taking care of the flower gardens she has left behind, giving us hands-on experience so that we can assist her when it is our turn to join her once again.

Martha Coburn Clarke Kinnecom
September 4, 1958 - August 8, 2009
Living between the Heavenly sunshine and flowers......

Friday, August 7, 2009

mom is the energizer bunny.

she has a heart of gold and super strong lungs!

after 3-4 days of constant sleeping under magic-morphine, we sit and wait.

and wait.

and wait.

last night we all camped out in the living room listening to her breathing. it was (this entire experience is) surreal.

today, a flock of birds visited near the window -- a ginormous bluejay, several cardinals, a woodpecker, chickadees, and a beaaaautiful goldfinch. we haven't seen that many birds at one time since we've been in jamestown. so, naturally, we all thought they were coming to take mom!! maybe they were coming to chit chat and prepare her.

the hospice nurse said goodbye to us today because she doesn't think she'll be back tomorrow. pray for mom's safe journey and magnificent welcoming committee, whenever she decides to go.


k & k

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mom is still resting comfortably here in Jamestown. Here are some photos from last week. Mom, Doug, Kim, Abby and I took a long walk down to the docks on Saturday and ran into a longtime friend of Mom's as well. It was a beautiful day to remember.

Mom with Maura

With Uncle Ricky and Mema

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Last night while Kim and I were asleep upstairs, Mom somehow gathered the strength to climb out of her hospital bed to stand. Her leg muscles didn't support her for very long and she fell for the first time. Dad got her up and moved her over to the pull-out sofa with him. She didn't know where she was going or why she even stood up and just asked, "Are we still alive?"

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hello all,

The hospice nurse increased the amount of pain medication Mom is taking from ALOT to ALOT MORE. She is also now taking an anti-anxiety pill, and the combination has created a sleepy, dreaming, hallucinating, twitching, and relatively peaceful and painless Mom.

This morning she insisted on brushing her teeth, so Kim and I helped her in the bathroom while she nodded off and on. She has been determined to take care of herself and not "miss anything" for her entire journey with this cancer. Today was the first day she slept downstairs and the first day she didn't take a shower. Mom commented that the house felt like a cookoo farm. We dressed her in a Hawaiian print dress and she is now sleeping on the hospital bed overlooking the birdfeeder.

One of Doug's cousin's shared this passage with me and I'd like to pass it along:

2 Corinthians 4: 14-18
Therefore we do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal- but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

7/29 Update

No major changes in the past couple of days ... nothing significantly better or worse but Mom continues to decline. The Hospice nurse who was here Monday ordered some anti-anxiety med. so mom might be able to sleep a little more continually through the night (she wakes up about every hour) and to take the edge off during the day. This morning mom said she only woke up three times last night, slept considerably better and woke up at 7 a.m. instead of the typical 4:30 or 5 a.m.

Yesterday morning she was particularly weak and loopy. She'd fall asleep in the middle of saying something. She doesn't want help getting upstairs (about 15 stairs?) or in the bathroom yet. She's pretty stubborn (I can't blame her) and is desperately trying to hold on to taking care of herself and feeling some sense of normalcy. Yesterday the Hospice social worker came over to talk with Mom and Dad and another Hospice person delivered a hospital bed. Mom wanted the bed next to the windows so she can look out and see the birds/bird feeder and feel the fresh air.

Katie and I went back to Boston for only a couple of hours yesterday to pick up some clothes etc. and stopped by Katie's work so she could sign a leave form.

We had a lovely visit over the weekend with Katie's in-laws Warren and Jean from the Chicago area. They were able to spend some time with the family and also discover where our family is from.

Sunday Nana arrived and is staying in a basement apartment at a friend of the family. Katie and I took her to visit Papa's grave at the Veterans Cemetery yesterday and then to buy a new purse. I am so relieved that she's here.

Over the weekend we also had several special food deliveries from all sorts of friends. Some of Katie's friends from Boston brought several pans of homemade lasagna rolls (the new wave of lasagna!), mac & cheese, cupcakes, salad, loaves of bread, gallons of beverages, and best of all, disposable plates and utensils! Other family friends brought homemade soup and casseroles. Their generosity and thoughtfulness was so great. Funny to think that going to the grocery store and meal planning could ever be challenging... but it is such a relief to open the fridge or freezer and not have to think. (It is sort of full now though.)

This evening mom's uncle Ricky from California arrives and also her college roommate Maura from Maryland. Tomorrow a long-time family friend, Margaret, who lives in California arrives. A week from Friday Randy arrives from N.C., and Uncle David and Aunt Fairlie from Utah. Others are contemplating visits. Lots of people love mom (us too) and being very supportive!

Mom continues to receive cards and flowers which brighten up her days. She really loves getting cards and hearing from people. If anyone wants to send her a note the address here in Jamestown is:

64 Pemberton Ave.
Jamestown, RI 02835

Please pass along the address to anyone else who may want it!