BREAST CANCER,  COMMUNITY,  metastatic breast cancer

Life Does Go On: A Day in the Life of a Stage IV Cancer Patient

October 28, 2018
By Leah Taylor

There is a harsh reality in all of our lives. No matter what is going on, life goes on. I have been in the hospital since last Thursday, October 24, 2018. This blog breaks my past pattern of listing hourly glimpses as it covers a few days. I spent Thursday morning in the ER getting evaluated for pain control and evaluation to determine the source of the pain. By Thursday afternoon, I was admitted to the oncology floor at Harris, Ft. Worth. My pain was at a 9 level. I was at the “crying from extreme pain” stage. Let me explain: It is bad pain (actually evil, nasty, useless, worthless pain) that has me weeping in the E.R. After I am admitted to the oncology floor, the pain control is finally starting to bring some relief. I am still here on Saturday evening, working with a palliative care Dr. to continue to get my pain under control.

This is not an unusual for a patient in my situation. Sometimes things spiral out of control and need to be fixed.

The point I want to make with this blog post is that life goes on. I waited from Wednesday late morning to Thursday morning to report to the ER. I waited because I had a crew in my house for over five hours repairing my furnace and fixing my duct work and duct boots. Bless them for all the work they performed. The part they didn’t know was that I was in excruciating pain and needed to go to the ER. I used every trick I know to cope: pain meds at prescribed levels. I used cold packs, I used lidocaine cream on barking skin pain and used prayer on very deep nerve pain. I used distraction and deep breathing. It didn’t work.

I arrived after the sun came up on Thursday morning because I can’t drive at night due to cataracts. And, I needed to stay at home due to furnace work being completed prior to leaving home. You see, life goes on.

It is not earth shaking because I can’t control the pain from a swelling arm and compressed nerves from that swelling. The dogs still need care. My kids still need to work. The grandkids need to go to sports. I still have projects to be completed that need to be ready by Thanksgiving. I want to be healthy enough to prepare a dinner for family and friends to come and enjoy. Why? Because life goes on. I might be dying but the world isn’t going to stop because my arm is swelling and compressing the nerves in my arm.

One of the nurses helping me was asking: “Where is your family?” I explained that they are working. They will be here when I need them. But, I see no practical need to have my son, or his family, waiting for me to be tested for a blood clot, undergo a CT and MRI. They have a life that needs attending. I don’t need someone handholding me through an admission process, even if I am weeping in pain. Why? Because life goes on. I know they have things to do in their schedule that I shouldn’t interrupt due to another issue in my long drawn out dying process.

Does that last comment shock you? Well, you see, I am not at hospice level yet. I can still function. I might be functioning at a less than acceptable level, but I don’t need hospice yet. You see, life goes on.

A nurse called a chaplain in to speak to me after I was admitted. My weeping in pain had her completely misunderstanding what was going on. I quit crying as my pain got below a 9 level. I am certain she misinterpreted my crying as a psychological need when it was purely physical. Maybe she hasn’t met someone like me who is of a very practical mind set. I don’t see a need for someone else’s life to be disrupted right now. Life goes on.

It is ok to have family members at any medical intervention as needed. Meeting psychological needs is important. But, it is ok not to have family members at medical intervention. You see, it’s important for me that my family keep their lives going without any unnecessary distraction. It’s important for me they maintain continuity in their lives while I go through this process because I know they will be here for me when I need them. Life goes on.

This admission finds some medical team members I want to call out because they are amazing: Courtney, Tiffany, Jackie, Rose, Geneva. You see, I am able to be admitted and endure this process of controlling my pain due to some super care givers who do there job well. They allow me to be admitted and have my family visit with minimal disruption to their schedule. Why? Because life goes on.

Life is not stopping because breast cancer is taking my life. Grocery store runs still need to be made. Grandkids need to attend succor games. Pets need attention. (I am calling you out, Dude, you silly Chihuahua. And calling you out, Bailey, you beautiful little German Shepard.) Life goes on.

The time for my family to attend to me is coming. They will need to attend to my physical and psychological needs. They will be my support system when it is time. It isn’t time yet. It is close, if the next treatment fails. Before then, life goes on.

Many blessings to those who read this blog. Your prayers mean the world to me and my family. Please praise your team members that go above and beyond. Let them know they have done well. It’s a tough job. Btw- It was good to meet you in person Rhonda L. Meeting a patient rep because I praised an amazing team is very cool. Patient advocates usually hear the bad things. You rock, Rhonda. Keep up the good work.


  • Lynne

    i have not suffered through cancer, yet, but close family members have. their experiences are imprinted on my youth, and travel with me every day of my life.
    i know you speak the truth. every. single. word. it is your gift to family to cope and endure for as long as you are able…allowing them space to be “normal”…for now.
    life goes on, indeed. whether we stay or go, are blind or seeing, suffering or happy…life goes on.
    and the next day…the one after we’re gone, the sun will still rise. and we ask…but why? i am suffering the loss of my loved one.
    and then we’ll know…each and every time…life goes on, with or without us.

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