My web site is devoted to medical and treatment information about this rare cancer. My blog is devoted to sharing what has been the more difficult part of the journey for me, the emotional and spiritual road I've traveled as a rare cancer survivor.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I lost another friend.....

I lost yet another friend to appendix cancer today. My closest appendix cancer friend.

She found my website just after she was diagnosed, and we have been in touch often in the years since. She was my age, and also a nurse...so we shared a lot right away. She, at age 50, defied the odds of being female and being older and was accepted into medical school. She'd always wanted to be a doctor. She was doing well in medical school...until she had appendicitis, until she discovered she had appendiceal cancer. She had a hemicolectomy and then returned to med school, she was going to be one of the survivors. Then her cancer recurred. She had a second surgery, and as a result of that surgery the nerve to her right leg was damaged. She became disabled. But she still returned to med school. To her dream.

Her cancer then recurred again, this time inoperable. She decided to forgo chemotherapy and to instead use alternative therapies. They didn't work for her. We communicated once, sometimes twice a day as her life deteriorated. She was dying and I knew that. I hated that she wouldn't be my friend forever in this life. I hated that she would never realize her dream of becoming an MD. I hated that cancer was stealing another friend from me.

She suffered unending pain and nausea and disability in the end. Her quality of life deteriorated to the point that she wished the relief of death, even if it separated her from those she loved. She finally admitted herself to the hospital for palliative care. She died just days later. While I was so sad to lose her, I'm relieved that she is finally cancer-free.

But in the end, she still advocated my dream of further education. She said initially I supported her when she was in school, and she wasn't able to finish, but maybe there was a justice in her encouraging me to pursue my dream of further education...at least one of us might graduate! We were always each others cheerleaders. We shared a lot...our dealing with a cancer diagnosis, our loves, our lives, our feelings.

Why couldn't she have been a survivor like me? Why couldn't she have realized her dream of becoming an MD? She only wanted to help people.

I have no answers.

I got to say goodbye to her before she passed. I told her how much I would miss her friendship. I asked her to try to contact me from the great beyond when she gets there...she said she's always been a bird lover (me too) so will try to contact me as a pink finch. I have a bird feeder and get a few finches, but NONE of them are pink. I will so be looking for a pink finch. If I see a pink finch, I'll know my good friend is just a parallel universe away from me.

I will be sure to keep my bird feeders filled this year. Especially with finch food.

5 comments:

ce_squared said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. Thank goodness you had some quality time with her.

take care,
cxxxx

Dan said...

Beautiful post. Remember, parallel universes are the merest fraction of an inch away. Your friend will always be close by...

Sheboygan Dan

lizzy said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend..I am however encouraged by your blog. I to am a RN in NYC. I was diagnosed with appendiceal mucinous CA via "appendicitis" on Dec 7, 2009. I just had a CT scan to see if it spread, so far so good. Though I know the CT scan is not 100% accurate until the cancer is progressed. Unfortunately my tumor burst through the wall of my appendix possibly spewing cancerous cells into may abdomen/pelvis. I was allergic to the barium I had on Wednesday and cannot imagine doing this a colonoscopy and endoscopy every 3 - 6 months for at least 5 years. I am considering preemptive HIPEC. Do you know anyone who has done this? I wish you and everyone on here years and years of great living without cancer. Thanks for your blog. Enjoy your vacation.

Carolyn Langlie-Lesnik RN BSN said...

Hi Dan,

Thank you. I am a firm believer in parallel universes and the presence of much we can't see from here. So I beleive she is not very far away. She enjoyed fine wine and good food, and had been unable to enjoy either in the weeks before her death, I hope when she left this world a bottle of vintage wine and a gourmet feast awaited her! I know I will see her again one day. And I know she is whole and no longer suffering.

Take care,

Carolyn

Carolyn Langlie-Lesnik RN BSN said...

Hi Lizzy,

My appendix had perforated, and it was believed I also had cancer cells in my abdomen and pelvis waiting to become tumors, so I opted for peritoneal chemotherapy with my hemicolectomy. I also opted to have my ovaries removed prophylactically, though they weren't involved yet, as I knew appendix cancer very often affects the ovaries.

As it turned out, when I went for that surgery I had a few additional small tumors found on my omentum that had not shown up on my CT scan, so my greater omentum was also removed.

I've known very many appendix cancer patients who have had HIPEC, it would be a good idea to see a HIPEC specialist for a second opinion to see if you might be a candidate for that. I had EPIC as HIPEC wasn't available to me in 2001, I had six peritoneal chemo treatments vs. one with HIPEC.

Feel free to email me if I can answer any other questions.

I truly wish you, and ALL of us, many, many cancer-free years.

Take very good care,
Carolyn