Cancer Sucks

Anyone who is my friend on Facebook may have noticed comments that I have been making lately.

A week ago today I got a text message that hit me like a wall of bricks.

It was a message that my friend Dena forwarded to my sister Cathy who lives in Tennessee. (they both live in TN)

It said:

Cathy, in hospital. Cancer. Let Priscilla know. Dena.

I read this message over because I was stunned. It was 8:22 in the morning and I was awake but felt like I was in the middle of a bad dream.

How? What? Why? My brain was reeling with questions. I had just "spoken" to Dena yesterday through email. I knew she had had another rough weekend with feeling weak and having pain. I had seen over the past week where she was determined to get over this mysterious ailment that her doctor had called depression and arthritis.

He had prescribed prednisone which she went off because it only made her sick. She had pain meds but was very reluctant to use them on a regular basis.

She was forcing herself to fight back from how she was feeling. She talked about joining the senior's center where she could swim and get $10 massages. She wanted to work out and build up her stamina.

She was forcing herself to eat and would be so happy over eating the slightest bit of food.

She battled with constipation. No wonder when she was not eating enough for her body to function in a healthy way.

I spoke to her on the phone on Wednesday. Typical Dena joking around. She was enjoying being waited on and I told her she could have gone on a vacation instead.

She knew that they had seen a mass in front of her bladder and was told she possibly had cervical cancer. She was optimistic that she could beat it.

The morphine was kicking in and we didn't talk for long. She said she had no room for negative thoughts around her - she was sure that she could beat this.

I felt better hearing her voice and hearing that she was still fighting. I knew she would be.

I talked to her husband Rick on Friday. They had found a cyst on her liver and she had a blood clot in her leg. She had a biopsy done on the mass and the following day they did a surgical procedure to contain the blood clot.

Saturday my sister took the 30 mile drive to the hospital to see Dena. I was so grateful that I would hear first-hand how our friend was.

The news was not good. Dena was skeletal and in bad shape. Although she wasn't in pain due to the medications, she was weak. Cathy held her hand as her husband Rick shared with her how bad her condition really was.

Dena has 2 grapefruit-sized tumors in her abdomen. There is a cyst on her liver and the biopsy results would determine what course of treatment they would take.

Today is Monday...I have not heard directly from Rick or Dena. I did see (thanks to Facebook) that her sister-in-law posted that Dena is in the final stages of cancer.

I still hope that people exaggerate even though I know that this is probably the truth.

Dena and I are friends. We shared our goals and pushed each other to work towards our writing goals. Her hard work was paying off. She was getting offered really good assignments that paid good money- not these bs self-publish residual stuff that anyone can do.

She had a blog that she focused on local restaurants and did more than just review them; she told the story of how the restaurant came to be- the human side of it.

She is the gardening guru who knew so much about plants and wrote interesting pieces about all aspects of gardening.

She has a passion for alternative medicine and knew how to use herbs and vitamins for better health.

There is a fellowship amongst those who write web content. I have been fortunate to have made several very good friendships. Dena was probably the first. She has taught me so much about the craft. She always took the time to encourage me.

We spoke about more than just writing. We talked about our families. We talked about life.

I miss my friend. I hate the thought of her laying in a hospital bed facing this awful news. I know she is strong.
I don't want to see that she is suffering. If there is no hope, I hope she is allowed to go home to be with her gardens, her houseful of plants, her beloved kitty Samantha, her husband Rick and her children and granddaughter.

I know Dena has come into my life for a reason. Everyone does. I do hope for a miracle but if that is not meant to be, I hope for Dena to be free of pain as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Since I posted this earlier today I spoke to Rick, Dena's husband. All the prayers, positive thoughts and well wishes are not enough.

There is nothing that medical science can do for Dena.

I sobbed as Rick told me that her kidneys are shutting down and she has picked up an infection from being in the hospital.

He explained that radiation, chemotherapy or surgery is not an option. There is just too much cancer inside her.

What do you say to a man who has been married to a woman for nearly 17 years and is still in shock?

I told him how much Dena means to me and so many others. How she is such a tough woman but also so kind. How I am so so sorry.

What can I say? Cancer sucks. It just isn't fair and it just shouldn't be.

Dena is being moved to a hospice where they can keep her comfortable. Hopefully she passes quickly and with as little pain as possible.

Dena Bolton made an impact on many lives. Her writing will continue to make an impact. She had so much more to do.

Hug the ones you love. Don't put off anything. You don't know when your time is up. Life it to the fullest. Every moment.

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