Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated on Mary’s journey.
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February 25, 2020 My mother, Mary Roulston, has been dealing with diverticulitis in recent months. She had dropped from 135 lbs to 82 lbs at her lowest weigh-in. We advocated for answers and care and she was referred to a surgeon she both likes and trusts.
Mom has had more than 25 upper endoscopies in this past year and a half at 3 different London hospitals. She has remained positive about recovering and regaining a healthy weight of 120 lbs. Her sense of wit, humour and determination have carried her through her adult life and are carrying her through these medical issues in her 90s. So many doctor appointments, medical tests, and procedures since August 2018 and still I am often told by health care staff that they just love the “sweet ol’ gal with the saucy tongue.”
Over the past year the endoscopy recoveries varied by surgeon or length of time she had to wait to get an appointment date. Her recoveries were not too bad except for slight soreness, headache, trapped excess belly gas after a procedure, or a sore neck/shoulder from the position of the surgery. Her biggest complaint after one endoscopy was realizing staff had thrown away one of her hearing aids in error and a new set cost her $4,000 CAD.
Over the last couple months mom was not recovering as quick. The headaches were lasting almost a week and her esophagus was narrowing much quicker. Usually mom could go an average of 4 weeks in between endoscopies but now she was down to a span of two weeks and that was maxing out.
In early February the surgeon did an endoscopy with 5 biopsies for the radiologist. Mom did not bounce back quickly. She was sore, had a lot of congestion, was coughing and still was unable to eat solid foods. Time to call the surgeon.
On Friday, February 21, 2020 another endoscopy was performed to stretch out the lower esophagus above the diaphragm. The stretch went well but the surgeon asked to speak with me while Mom was in recovery.
Mom’s biopsies had come back positive for cancer.
She has squamous esophageal cancer. The cancer is at the lower end of the esophagus, above the diaphragm. This is the same area the surgeons have attempted to stretch for months. Originally it was a 5cm area of irritated tissue. Currently it is a 2cm area of scarred tissue. There was a biopsy back in 2018 and there was no sign of cancerous cells. The surgeon did not think the area looked suspicious even 3 weeks ago.
So we are on a new journey now as we wait for more tests, referrals and appointments. The surgeon will request a full CT scan to determine if the cancer has traveled to lymph nodes/organs, then he expects a stent will be placed by Plastic Surgery, and finally a referral to Oncology for radiation treatments. He says Mom is not strong enough for surgery or chemo.
My mother has decided to follow her surgeon’s lead at this time ... so follow we shall.
Some of you are aware that mom is also experiencing Alzheimer decline. Some days are better than others for clarity, comprehension and remembering things. We will watch over her to make sure she is well informed and making sound judgements on her personal health care as much as she is able.
This is her journey and we are here to walk with her in the hope that she will either beat the cancer with radiation, or at least go into remission.
We will post on this site again as things progress.