Marcelle’s Story

Site created on March 22, 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. Thank you for visiting.

Short Story:  Marcelle has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Long Story:  Marcelle started feeling lower back pain in mid-January.  She saw her doctor and started a regimen of ibuprofen, icing and stretching.  Her condition did not significantly improve before our annual ski vacation in South Lake Tahoe (during which she does not snowboard anymore, due to bad knees) in late February.  On Friday of that week (March 2nd), while simply getting out of bed, she put her weight on her right arm, heard and felt a loud crack and collapsed in pain.  After a call to 911, the trip down to the ambulance and thence to the hospital was sheer agony until they gave her morphine.  During a wait in the ER, she got more morphine, was examined and then sent off for an arm x-ray, which confirmed she had a broken humerus.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), because of the angle they had to use to get the x-ray, that same film showed an anomaly in her upper right lung which needed follow up when we returned home.  The ER put her in a sling, gave her a prescription for pain meds and sent us on our way (special thanks to Jeff Morris for playing chauffeur in the snow, bringing up back to the timeshare, taking me to drop off the prescription and pick up the drugs, etc).  The pain medication did not help much, so she was miserable overnight and during the drive home the next day (Saturday, March 3rd).  We went right to the Kaiser Walnut Creek ER, waiting around several hours before finally getting to see a doctor, who ordered more x-rays of the arm and prescribed stronger pain meds.  At the same time, we went online and scheduled an appointment with her PCP to follow up with the lung anomaly and an orthopedic consult on the broken arm.  The initial orthopedist confirmed a diagonal fracture of the humerus, put on a cuff splint and entirely different sling and said it should heal in 6-8 weeks.  Her PCP ordered more x-rays of the lung and the results confirmed a mass in her lung, and she was then scheduled for a CT scan, along with a bone density scan based on the broken arm.  These all happened the week of March 5th.  The CT scan confirmed a cancerous mass in the lung. with other possible nodes in lung and liver, a probable tumor in the right humerus (ultimate cause of the broken arm) and the bone density scan showed fractures in her lower spine (L1-2) and a lesion in the same location (ultimate cause of enduring lower back pain).  She had a follow up with the orthopedist and a pulmonary specialist on March 14th.  The orthopedist is concerned that the bone won't heal on its own, and would like to schedule surgery as soon as possible to provide quality of life, but we need a biopsy of the arm first to compare to the lung biopsy and confirm both are same, otherwise it is too risky.  The pulmonary specialist confirmed indications are Stage 4 lung cancer and scheduled the PET scan for March 16th.  We are waiting for the analysis of the PET scan.  She is scheduled for lung biopsy on March 21st, and then will be scheduled for a biopsy of her arm.  Once the lung biopsy is analyzed, we should be meeting with the oncologist to discuss treatment.  In the meantime, her back is still killing her, as is the fact that she can't take a shower or wash her hair.  Working with Kaiser, we have a hospital bed arriving on Monday (today), which should help somewhat in allowing her easier rest and mobility in/out of her bed.

As you can imagine, this has hit us like a ton of bricks and we are still coming to terms with the situation.  Marcelle is tired, cranky, in pain, and very stinky.  Hopefully some of those conditions will improve soon.  We understand that all of you want to reach out and also are ready and willing to help.  We appreciate that and will certainly be calling on you at the appropriate times.  Telling this tale over and over has taken an emotional toll, so we would ask that you not call directly to discuss.  I will be sending out updates as things progress, and you can certainly send texts and e-mails, which we will respond to as we are able.  As much as you may feel the need to discuss the issue directly with us, we simply don’t have the emotional energy to go over this again and again with you in person.  Marcelle will be reaching out to all of you as she has the physical strength and mental fortitude, so you can be assure of speaking directly with her.  Also, please DO NOT drop by unannounced at this time.  We are emotionally fragile and it is important that we not be overwhelmed by visitors; there is nothing more jarring than being in the middle of a crying jag or bitter-sweet reminiscence and having someone show up on the front porch unexpectedly.  If you are in the area and want to visit, please call or text and ask first (or run the risk of being turned away).  We will make sure that time is set aside for everyone to visit.

Thanks for your understanding, kind thoughts, and best wishes

Newest Update

Journal entry by Kurt Ewoldsen

Sorry for the radio silence, but it has taken a few days for my team to work on the arrangements and for me to second-guess all decisions.  However, the logistics are now (mostly) set.

The memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, July 14th, from 10am to noon-ish at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center (233 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA) in the Chateau room.  This room can seat 255 people, so anyone and everyone who wants to attend is welcome.  The center is adjacent to a park, so those with kids will have room to roam before and after (and during, if necessary).  As stated before, there will be some scheduled speakers.  If you would like to be one of them, please let me know by texting me, e-mailing me, or adding a comment to this post.  We will be recording the event and transcribing it into a memory book for the family to keep.

And since I mentioned the memory book, while everyone will likely not have a chance to speak (over 100 people even at just 5 minutes each turns into more time than we have, and violates the bladder test), everyone can and should come with a memory to be added to the book.  Simply write down a favorite memory of her, anecdote about something interesting that happened with/be or a paragraph about how she affected your life.  These will be collected into the memory book, along with pictures and what is shared at the memorial.

Again, no dress code and no pressure.  It being July, it is likely to be HOT.  If it is hot enough, you are likely to see me wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.  You are welcome to do the same.  If you want to show Marcelle's power colors, dress in black & red.  There will be water at the memorial to keep everyone hydrated (or re-hydrate those who are crying).  Bring your own hanky or Kleenex.  Bring a picture of Marcelle, bring something for the memory book, but most of all bring yourselves and join in a celebration of her life.

After the memorial, those who wish to are invited back to our house for some food and Marcelle's Pop-up Boutique.  I did not realize that Marcelle was related to Imelda Marcos, but after having gathered all of her stuff from the nooks and crannies of our home, I think she must be.  Those of you who wear a size 10-12 (in clothing) and size 9-10 shoe can seriously augment your wardrobe, but there is also her carefully selected slew of scarves, collection of coats, jangle of jewelry (I made that up) and bundle of bags (purses, etc). She wanted these things to go to people for whom it would mean something and (hopefully) many of you would like a memento of Marcelle to take home with you.  Anyway, the gathering at our house will last until I can't take it any more and kick you all out.  Similar to how the open-house worked, many folk will need to congregate outside, where it could be any where from 60 degrees and windy to 106 degrees and sweltering.  Check the weather and come prepared.  We will be serving some food and non-alcoholic beverages; we won't be providing alcohol and I ask that you don't bring your own.

I think that is it for now.  Check back regularly for updates.  The date, time and venue are set, but everything else could change with a moments notice.

I hope to see most of you in a couple of weeks.  Thanks for caring.

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