Sunday, January 11, 2015

Saturday morning

So here it is. We've been rather private about this for the past year because we knew Mom didn't want to be a spectacle or worry anyone, nor have any fuss, but the scenery has changed dramatically.
A year ago, almost exactly, Ruth MacLeod was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. Her tumour was discovered on Christmas day of 2013 after she suffered for several hours with intolerable head pain. Surgery followed on the 27th, and the cancer diagnosis in early January. She was treated with radiation and chemo therapies, several rounds, until this summer when her body could no longer tolerate the chemo. We hoped for the best.
A few weeks later, her headaches returned. CT and MRI scans showed that the cancer had regrown, now in two sites. But Mom was determined: she was going to eke every last possible day out of this life she'd been given, and so when surgery with chemo to follow was offered she didn't hesitate to agree in the hopes that she'd get one more Christmas, more time with her husband, maybe more visits with her grandchildren.
While waiting for her surgical date, she developed shingles. The pain she experienced from the shingles was unimaginable: she suffered greatly. But still she was full of fight, full of determination. She had her second surgery on November 25th while still burdened by the shingles, and came through the surgery well.
Her recovery was stymied by the continued shingles pain. She spent several hours on Christmas day at my home, with Jon and our kids, her mother and sister, and of course her dear husband and his son. She got to see her grandchildren. She got to have Christmas dinner, with a piece of pecan pie.
Just before New Years she was admitted to the Elizabeth Bruyere hospital in the hopes that they would be able to find the right balance of narcotics to manage her pain but allow her to be lucid and functional for as long as possible. She had been fighting a cold for several weeks, but nothing seemed concerning until late Tuesday/very early Wednesday, when she began to have respiratory distress and was rushed to the Ottawa General where she was placed on life support due to a critical case of pneumonia.
As doctors at the General investigated the type of infection she was suffering, they discovered an e.coli infection in her blood. Following an abdominal CT scan to determine the source of the e.coli, it was discovered that my mother is also suffering colon cancer. It is stage 4 cancer, having metastisised. There is no possible treatment.
We have these last days with her. Her fight, her determination, her willingness to put herself through any amount of struggle in an effort to have more time with us all is amazing and inspiring. She wears a bracelet engraved with the word "survivor". And she is. Because while her body is too broken to carry on much longer, the example she has set in her living will indeed live on with we who have been so privileged to know her.
We love you, Mom.

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