My sister is dying.
I am the oldest of 3; our brother died 15 years ago at the age of 50. Marsha and I have always been close and for the last five years or so we've been extremely close. I've blogged about her illnesses before and the fact that she still smokes. She was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease (pulmonary fibrosis) 3 years ago about the same time she was diagnosed with COPD. The last year has been her diagnosis of lung cancer, her surgery and her chemo. When she came down from Pittsburgh a few weeks ago to get me organized to put my condo on the market she worked like a Trojan and did in 2.5 days what I couldn't have done in 2.5 months (maybe years since I'm very ADD and when I'm overwhelmed I get paralyzed and I cry). Unfortunately, although I felt like she saved my life (and told her so repeatedly) she ended up in the hospital for 4 days here in Virginia. Her lungs were in bad shape and they said, "by the way" you're aware you have a mass in your right breast, aren't you?" Uh, no.
I could tell she was scared because she never read the records they gave her to take home to show her oncologist. She got home on July 2, called the oncologist and they told her she should just keep her appointment on July 19!!!! Surprise!
She had her normal every-three-month CAT scan last Thursday and saw her pulmonologist yesterday. The horrible surprise is that the doctor wasn't at all concerned about breast cancer because Marsha's pulmonary fibrosis has progressed so significantly that she is rapidly approaching end stage. She has a strict regimen to follow (which she's mostly followed since she was originally diagnosed, but now it's literally a question of life or death) which means she can only get into the hospital bed she's slept in for the last 2 years at night when she's ready to go to sleep, and she can do virtually nothing during the day -- not even cleaning her own apartment. I am looking for a really comfortable chair she can sit in during the day. The doctor said if it progresses further in the next 3 months they will take her off of oxygen because it won't help her breathe with that much of her lung in scar tissue because the lungs will have lost their ability to absorb the oxygen. The only further treatment would be an iron lung, which of course Marsha rejected. When she comes off of oxygen it's time for hospice.
I would like to make a connection to quitting smoking and there probably is one. I'm just too sad to try.