It is so hard to see a loved one suffer with incomprehensible pain. The treatment she has been doing (photodynamic therapy) causes the cancer to explode. Before it explodes, it swells. A lot. She has severe swelling in her neck, chest, shoulder, armpit and shoulder blade, which is causing immense pain. It is pressing on and blocking the nerves running into her arm. From what she has said, her pain is like a sharp knife scraping down her right arm along with a constant burning under her skin into her hand. She has lost all hand and arm function. Function has been replaced with intense pain. This makes everyday tasks that we take for granted extremely difficult. Like doing her hair, or her daughter's hair. Holding a pan to wash dishes, cook a meal or open a container. Getting dressed, putting make up on, typing her blog. The list goes on. Then there is also neck pain. The cancer is pressing on and displacing her vertebrae, trachea, jugular vein, carotid, vertebral and subclavian arteries and muscles. She can't turn her head very far, or look up to take a drink from a glass without pain. Unyielding pain in her jaw, face, neck, arm, back, chest, armpit. There is very little relief from any of the pain medications she is taking, leading to uncomfortable, sleepless nights. When your body and mind need to heal, you need to sleep. But pain does not allow for sleep to happen for very long. Nights seem to be worse than daytime. She gets maybe one good hour of sleep. The rest of the night consists of painful, tearful periods of being awake, littered with spurts of falling in and out of restless sleep.
|Swelling in neck in chest. You can see it protruding out in her neck, no collar bone showing, port looks small as area is swollen.|
|Picture Val and I with a view of normal neck several months ago. Port protrudes further out, collar bones visible.|
I see my cherished, best friend suffering. I feel lost sometimes, wishing I could do more to help. I can't feel her pain and how much it actually hurts. I don't know how it tears at her body and mind. I can only imagine it. I wish I could feel it. I wish I could share it with her. I wish I could take it away. I see how she is hurting, even though she hides the severity of it most of the time. I see it stabbing her. I hate it. If only I, and all of us who care about her, could feel a glimpse of her pain, we wouldn't have to ask how she is feeling. A difficult question that she does not want to answer because the truth is so hard to think about and so hard for the rest of us to hear.
Staying positive through such long and enduring pain must be impossible. Not only does she have physical pain, but she has the emotional pain of not dancing, not teaching her love of Zumba to others, of not being the mother, wife or friend she wants to be all the time. It takes a great amount of will power and strength to have hope and faith that the pain will subside. Only Heavenly Father knows her agony. But He has brought friends and family to lift and hold her when she needs it. My beautiful Valerie, you are so loved by so many. If only love could make you better, you would have been healed 100 times over.
Although love helps, it cannot heal all of this. On to a new chapter in her treatment. Photodynamic therapy is not working fast enough. Low-dose chemotherapy starts Monday, the 14th (the same treatment she did last year). She is not looking forward to it, but is looking forward to being free from pain, free from cancer, and free to live her life as she should be.