Annette Ashley

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This site is dedicated to my loving and caring mom who began her fight with cancer on May 28, 2019. Only a few months earlier, she was experiencing shortness of breath one Saturday afternoon. We rushed her to the ER where they checked out her heart with an EKG only to find that all was good there. She wasn't experiencing a heart attack. They were still concerned on what was causing the shortness of breath so they gave her anti-anxiety medication. They also gave her a chest X-Ray and later a CT Scan.  All seemed well and they released her to go home.  A few weeks later, her doctor called and said they saw something in her lungs on the CT scan that deserved another look and they scheduled a biopsy of her lungs.  We scheduled the biopsy and a few days later, she had an appointment with a pulmonary specialist.  We had no idea what was coming next. The Dr. came in the room and asked questions about my mom's medical history. Did she smoke? How long had it been since she smoked? How long had she smoked? After answering all of these questions, we realized where this conversation was going. She revealed that my mom had cancer in her lungs but it had not originated in her lungs. The cancer cells looked to come from the colon but it was not certain. What was certain is that it was not metastatic and had now traveled from it's original place to her lungs meaning it had progressed to Stage 4. We were devastated. Other than minor health issues, my 77 year old mother had never been sick.

After several series of appointments with her oncologist, we found out that her cancer was indeed from her colon and inoperable and incurable. Our options were only to do chemo to help control the spread of her tumor. She began treatment right away and it was rough. She experienced dehydration every week between chemo treatments and went from getting around well to needing help with taking a shower. There were days when she didn't even feel like getting out of bed and days where she was too weak to even eat. She was getting chemo one week and then having to be rehydrated the next week to the point where she was almost hospitalized. 

 I asked my mom in the beginning of her diagnosis if she wanted a second opinion and she said no. I asked again because I felt that something with the treatment was going wrong and she now said yes. We consulted with her oncologist and we asked for a second opinion at Duke Medical Center.

We went to Duke on September 6th hoping and praying that we would get a different answer and hopefully some help in understanding why the treatment was so rough for her. We met with an amazing doctor at Duke but the diagnosis was no different but we did determine that the treatment could be reduced and that medication that my mom was on was interfering with her chemo causing the severe dehydration. So once back in Virginia, her oncologist reviewed the records, adjusted her treatment and now she is on a much lower dose of chemo and doing much better.

I was hesitant to tell this story but honestly it's been hard to share what we've all been through with anyone. Between our life changes at home and having to readjust things at work for my schedule, it's been a journey. While I am extremely grateful to my family and friends, I found that I had less and less people to talk to because my mom's condition was really bad at times and I didn't want to be burdensome telling anyone that I cried every night wondering how I could best help my mom. It seems like the phone calls were less and less because people didn't want to have the heaviness of what was really going on. I don't blame anyone because this is a lot to handle but sometimes it gets hard when I have no one to share my feelings with. I am fortunate because both me and my mother believe in God and we believe that He will heal her if it is His Will. The waiting has just been the hard part. 
Thanks for reading and we hope that her journey inspires someone to reach out and care for those who are going through this process.