"My Momma, Diane (Suhr) Walker, was diagnosed September 18th, 2009 with breast cancer. She went through grueling chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. In July, 2010, she was told she was cancer free. A year ago she started having horrible back pain. My entire life, she has had back problems: scoliosis and two steel rods in her back. So, when she told us she was having pain, we really didn't think much of it. The pain continued until the beginning of February, 2012. That weekend, my dad and my mom traveled to New Jersey for my Grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. The Monday they returned, my mother needed help walking; by that Wednesday, she couldn't walk at all. On Valentine's Day, my dad took her to the hospital, where her previous cancer doctor diagnosed her breast cancer again--but this time, in her back. The cancer cells were behind the steel rods, so no one could see it in any examinations she had had before. The cells were 'bumping' her spine, causing her to be paralyzed from the waist down. By the end of March, from sitting constantly, a bedsore formed. Her body was already giving its all to fight the cancer, but now it had to fight this dangerous wound.
On July 8th, 2012, an ambulance was called to take my mother to the emergency room. For the past month, she had been saying weird things like 'Call the front door Honolulu' or, 'Aah!! there are lizards on the ceiling!'. We laughed it off, thinking it was her medication. For dinner on July 8th, my dad had to feed her. I was scared to death because my beloved mother was just laying there, non-responsive, as my dad desperately tried to feed her. We called our neighbors, who have been helping our family this entire time; we are very grateful. Even though it was about 7:30 at night, my neighbors came over and tried to 'wake up' my mom. They put ice on her stomach, pinched her, yelled, etc. She would simply mumble a word here or there. Then, my neighbor, Robin, called me to the bedside. I was already a wreck, but I ran to my mother's side. I held her hand, tears dripping from my face, and asked my mom, 'Mom, who am I?' Much to my amazement, she quickly said, 'Casey. You're my daughter.' I cried and cried, and then my neighbor asked her, 'Diane, tell her that everything will be okay.' At that point, she had used up all her energy and drifted back off. When the ambulance took her away, all I could think was that those would be the last words she said to me.
When my dad called from the hospital later that night, he told us that she was doing better, and that she had been severely dehydrated. The doctors told him that if we had waited another hour, she would have died."
(the above was written by Casey Walker, 16-years-old)
After a few weeks, Mom returned home and seemed to be regaining some strength and her appetite. Most importantly, she was able to have some quality-of-life and witness her son, Will, begin college and even attend Casey's Sweet 16 party in November. However, as the bedsore is not healing as hoped and the cancer is continuing to spread, circumstances have taken a turn-for-the-worse.
Currently, Mom is 59-years-old and fighting her second bout of breast cancer, diagnosed last February, which has metastasized throughout much of her skeletal system (skull, spine, arms, legs, pelvis, ribs) and has recently also attacked her liver (as per a study taken 11/1/12, "The liver now contains countless metastatic lesions."), necessitating even more chemotherapy. Additionally, she remains paralyzed from the waist down as a result of tumorous growths within her spine and has been dealing with a vicious and deep bed sore located in her lower back that has led to numerous serious infections, including osteomyelitis, and very nearly her death in July. Her husband, Charlie, is her primary caretaker and he is supported primarily by their daughter, 16-year-old Casey. As this is a fight that has continued for a prolonged time, they are in a dire financial position. Charlie is 64-years-old and works a difficult and "back-breaking" job as a foreman at a glass factory. He has had to miss significant time, much of it unpaid, due to his efforts to provide care and support for Mom. Further, it is left to him to provide all necessary transportation, which is all-the-more difficult and expensive since they live in the mountains of Kentucky and the doctors, clinics, etc. are all in cities at a great distance from them. Even prior to the cancer, they were never in a good or particularly stable financial situation, but they were able to make ends meet and "get by." Now, however, that is not the case. Everything is a struggle and circumstances are forcing them to make decisions on which bills to pay and which to skip, on which necessities are truly necessary and which are just not possible. The stress this is causing all of them is terrible. We do not know what the future holds, but are certain that this added financial stress is making the healing process more difficult...or, in all honesty, if it turns out that Mom is not meant to be healed, it is making this precious time much less peaceful than it should or could be.
Thank you for your generosity and support during this difficult time! Love, Diane's Children
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