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Dec 31, 2017 Latest post:
Jan 4, 2018
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement.
A little before Thanksgiving Paula found a lump in her neck. A few weeks later it was large enough that Amy was able to see it and a doctors appointment was made. After a needle biopsy was done they found out on Friday the 22nd that the growth was cancerous. The plan was to make an appointment for a PET scan and to meet with an oncologist the following week, but by Wednesday Paula was having a hard time eating and drinking so she agreed to go to the emergency room. She started having some breathing problems while there and was started on oxygen. A CT scan was done on the area from her chin to her pelvis. The scan showed that the growth was pushing on her esophagus and trachea, which explained the breathing and swallowing difficulties. There were also multiple other tumors found in different areas at that time. She was admitted to the hospital and met with an oncologist the next day to discuss the results. The oncologist said the cancer was too advanced to cure, but palliative chemotherapy was an option to try to reduce the size of the tumor in her neck. Paula has always said she never wanted chemo if she got cancer. Before this could be passed on to the oncologist, she had a period where she was really struggling to breathe. A priest from her church was called and performed last rites. It looked like she may not make it through the night, but she was able to find relief through a few different medications. The next morning the oncologist came by and said after reviewing what had happened the previous night she no longer felt that palliative chemo would be an option. Everyone agreed that hospice care would provide the most comfort going forward. On Thursday and Friday, Paula slept quite a bit but did have some periods of time where she was very alert. Saturday afternoon she was moved to a hospice suite at St. Gertrudes, which is connected by hallways to the hospital. She has spent quite a bit of time there over the last few years for rehab after falls. She was still quite sleepy but was awake enough to have some tiny bites of mashed potatoes (one of her favorite foods in the world!) She previously had a swallow study done which showed that she was aspirating every time she swallowed (some of the food/water was going into her lungs instead of her stomach) so she is on restrictions of what kind of food/beverage she has to prevent choking and pneumonia. She doesn't have much of an interest in food except for a few tastes of her favorite foods. She has had no pain during all of this, and we will do everything we can to make sure it stays that way.