Welcome to Vanessa’s CaringBridge website. I received a lot of suggestions from friends to create this site since it had become more and more difficult to update everyone or return calls/emails/texts individually.
Vanessa started off the year with a good exercise regimen. While Vanessa was jogging, she fell after stepping into wet cement and hurt her groin area, which later led to hip pain. Her physical therapist told her that the hip pain was from over-compensating for her groin pain and she ended up getting PT for her injury for several months.
Vanessa later developed a nagging cough that started in March 2016; she initially thought it was a cold and didn’t do much about it until it started to prevent her from sleeping. She went to Urgent Care in June 2016 and was told it was the typical acute problems a healthy 30-something would have – allergies and/or acid reflux. It wasn’t until many more sleepless nights from coughing and sleeping upright, that she went to Urgent Care the second time around. She had a chest x-ray done, was informed she had pneumonia, received anti-biotics for pneumonia, and was instructed to follow up with her primary care physician and get a CT since the x-ray showed white fuzzy spots in one of her lungs.
After seeing her primary care physician who ran the same tests the Urgent Care physicians ran, she was told to get a CT of her lungs. The day after her CT on July 21, she was told the most devastating news; her CT came back with metastatic cancer in multiple areas of her lungs that spread to her shoulder blade and spine. She was also told she had water in her lungs and around the pericardial sac. This was the reason she had the nagging cough, lost 10 pounds, and was unable to sleep lying flat on her back!
Vanessa got a bronchoscopy on July 29 that confirmed she had stage 4 lung cancer. She went through a number of scans, which confirmed Vanessa’s cancer had also spread to her hip, which is why she had hip pain, and also her brain. She went through two rounds of chemotherapy and eventually an oral cancer medication. She also had a week of radiation to reduce her hip and leg pain and daily injections to prevent blood clots. There were a series of appointments between going to the lab, radiology, oncology, orthopedics, palliative care, radiation oncology, a nutritionist, and infusion center.
Vanessa fought hard throughout the 3 months of treatments. The number of challenges will not be described here, but if you can imagine all of the worst-case scenarios and side effects that could occur – she experienced all at once.
In the true spirit of Vanessa, she still threw a big birthday party for Kassie, sent Kassie to preschool, enjoyed brunches with friends and family and fine dining with her co-workers, went to a Beyoncé concert, enjoyed several spa days, went on a mini get away in Palo Alto, hunted for good deals, cheered Cody on at his Junior Giants game, attended Cody’s performance at the Dragon Boat festival, joined Kassie’s preschool picnic, attended Cody’s Halloween festival, took Cody to swim class, and Kassie to tutu class. She even went to New York, enjoyed fine dining, even at a Michelin star restaurant, saw the Jersey Boys show, and shopped her heart out.
The following day after she returned from New York, she was admitted to the Emergency Room to drain excess fluid from her lungs. She was feeling her shortness of breath symptoms again. Vanessa was still optimistic and talking about going to Monterey at the end of that week while she was in the ER. Unfortunately, she developed a lung infection that diminished her ability to breathe on her own. She was transferred to the ICU, intubated on November 13, and fought aggressively until the very end on November 24, 2016. Vanessa passed away peacefully on Thanksgiving morning surrounded by over 30 friends and family members. As a believer in Jesus Christ, Vanessa is no longer suffering and is now at home with her Lord and Savior.
During her entire journey with cancer, Vanessa and I have been overwhelmed by the love and support we have received from friends and family.
I could not imagine going through this on my own. We are grateful for each one of you.
PS- Please see journal for updates to her services.