Two months have passed since my beloved sister Dana passed away. I am slowly coming to terms with her loss but often find myself overwhelmed with the senselessness of it all and how quickly she succumbed to the disease. Dana was diagnosed in February 2017 at Stage 4and had followed the all too familiar pattern of going back and forth to her GP with vague symptoms, pain in her side (a scan was performed but nothing showed up); intermittent bowel problems (told it was IBS) and a persistent cough which was diagnosed firstly as a chest infection and then asthma when in reality she had fluid on her lung. Her swollen abdomen was largely ignored by her GP who just shrugged her shoulders and said it was probably linked to the IBS. I feel so sad for what she went through, following her diagnosis she was referred to the radical surgeon at Hammersmith and within two days of her first appointment was in surgery but was only able to have her omentum removed which was “caked with tumour”. The cancer was spread like a “pearl necklace” across her large and small bowel and chemo was arranged. Weekly Taxol was arranged but she suffered an allergic reaction and after two weeks this was abandoned and she went on to the three weekly carboplatin and Taxol. Five cycles in and she developed neutropenic sepsis as her bowel was intermittently blocking. After 8 nights in ITU she was moved to an oncology ward and the plan was to do a diverting colostomy as there was a high suspicion her bowel would perforate and that is what happened before the colostomy could be performed. Following emergency surgery in July she developed a fistula and no further chemo or surgery could be offered, it was just a matter of time and the doctors told me that had she been 20years older they would have let her go at the time of the perforation and the surgery was palliative to give her some extra time (she survived four months). What really hurts is that she had no quality of life during those four months as her fistula was high output and the cancer caused persistent vomiting to the point where everything she ate came back up and in effect she wasted away. Those last few weeks were horrendous but she never complained or said “why me”, I never saw her cry she said she felt “cheated out of her retirement” and “it is what it is”.during her final week she was mainly ina twilight state but when she was awake she gave me all the details for her funeral from the type of casket, the flowers, music, pall bearers, where to hold the “shindig” after as she called it and even the time of day “so people have time to get there”. I thank her for teaching me that optimism and hope can get you through the toughest of times and I remain in awe of her dignity, stoicism and bravery.
My sister suggested I have my ovaries removed, although her BRCA test was negative my GP felt this was a belt and braces option and agreed to refer me and this was done in September, I have also submitted myself for bowel screening and a mammogram.
I will continue to follow this group and wish you all the best for your journey and the best outcome possible.