Information page on Catherine M. Wheatley

So many have offered us support, sympathy, and prayers. I'd like to start this page by expressing the gratitude my family and I feel. Your prayers are a source of comfort and strength. Whatever the outcome, we know the Lord is with us.
Additionally, it is encouraging to know, from the posts on the TC; Bike Night; and other forums, that others have gone through similar experiences.
From all of the family, thank you so very much.

Mom passed away at 10:30 a.m., Sunday October 26th. Her memorial service was Wednesday, October 29th.

10:30 pm 10/21/2008

Kellly is taking mom home tomorrow. Hospice will call her and tell he when they can meet her at their house to set up the equipment. I suppose it might take another day before mom gets home, but it should be tomorrow or the day after.
She's not eating. We were told that people at this stage can't digest the food in their stomachs anyway, so it just sours until they have to throw it up. Trying to force her to eat would only cause her misery and hasten her dehydration. Kellly says she's taking in so little liquid now that there is almost none coming out. We just want to keep her comfortable. We are past any attempts at treatment.

3:10 pm 10/21/2008

Mom is truly excited about going on. In many ways, she has been since my father died 28 years ago.
I was there Sunday. She was only lucid for a few minutes. The rest of the time she was drifting in a semi conscious state. She kept saying, "I have to make a decision, and I want to make the right one this time." I'm pretty sure I know what decision she was talking about.
I told her that she didn't have to make the decision, that it had already been made and that her children knew she had made the right one. She said, "I don't? Oh good. I'm so glad." Then she asked me what she had to do now. I told her that she didn't have to do anything because the lord was going to take care of everything for her. I told her to get some rest while he got things ready. Then she asked me how soon she could go.
I couldn't say soon, so I said it would be just a little while yet. Then she went to sleep. I think she had similar conversations with the girls.
She's been talking to people who have already gone on and constantly talking about and to people in the room we can't see. On one occasion, she was talking to an Angle who she said had been sent to protect her.
Of course emotions run high and her children often have to comfort each other. But the loss is ours, not hers.
I wasn't there, but Kelly told us about a moment when she told Kelly she could see heaven. Kelly says she was fully aware of her and was trying to describe what she saw. Kelly says she kept saying, "How beautiful. How beautiful." then begged the lord to let her come now.
This makes it so much easier for us to understand that she truly is going to a better place, she will again be with loved ones who have gone before, and that eventually we will all be together again.
The  doctors want to try one more round of antibiotics. We've agreed to let them try. Once more only. Our fear is that it's a selfish decision on our part. Mom is ready and wants to go. But we just have to try one more time. It's easy to talk about letting them go. It harder to do. If we are wrong, I pray the lord won't punish her for our weakness. Take her fast. Don't let our efforts drag out her discomfort. We have agreed and promised to support each other in that this is the last time.
One day, she will tell us if we were right, or forgive us if we were wrong.
We love you mom.

Update: 7:45 pm 10/20/2008

The doctor had decided to treat mom's infections with large doses of antibiotic.  Once they get squared away with the nursing home, and are sure that they have the medicine there and approved, they'll move her back there. We'll just have to wait and see over the next few days whether or not she improves.
We're asking that she not have visitors for now. She gets upset easily requiring them to have to drug her back to sleep.

Update: 12:30 pm 10/20/2008

Betty just called me. She's on her way back to the hospital. Apparently, the urinary infection has backed up through her kidneys into her blood. she is now septicemic. In her weakened condition, this is extremely bad news. I don't have a prognosis from the doctor. I'll post it when I get it.

Update: 8:30 am 10/20/2008

Mom was back in the Hospital as of Friday. They took her to St Vincent North in Sherwood for some tests. She's got a bad urinary infection and they're giving her antibiotics. I ran up for the day Sunday. There was only one brief moment when I think she knew I was there.

I'm afraid we're closing in on the end of this fight. She was beating the cancer until that blood clot in her lung derailed her treatment. Now, she is just too weak. The cancer is probably coming back, she's got rashes, and infections, and her confusion is chronic. She also has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. (COPD) We're not sure if it's from the clot, the cancer, or something else.

They talked about releasing her back the the nursing home today. Kelly is reviewing their options to see what she wants to do. If everybody has given up and are just watching the clock, she wants to bring her home. I support her in that. My concern is that Kelly is taking on too much, and will hurt her own health.
My feeling is that we are looking at a few weeks or less.

Update: 10:15 am 10/11/2008

They moved mom to Cabot Nursing and Rehab care in Cabot.200 North Port Dr. Cabot, AR 72023. (501) 843-6181

Her blood was way to thin when she was in the hospital. I'm not sure what the numbers mean, but she was a 7 something, and they don't want her about 2.8. The last report I had yesterday, she was back down to 3.8. I'm hoping that the thin blood may have had something to do with her weakend and confused state. I waiting to see how she does when they get her blood back to where it should be.

I tried to call her this morning, but she doesn't have her cell phone with her. I tried to call the the Rehab center, but didn't get an answer on the number listed on the website. I assume it must be an office number that no one was manning on Saturday morning. 

I'll just have to call her this afternoon when I can reach her on one of the girl's phone.

Update: 11:15 am 10/9/2008

I ran up there last night to visit her in the hospital for a few hours. She looked fairly well list night, but she is very weak and confused.

She was beating the cancer, but then developed a series of blood clots in her lung that caused her to lose strength and cognition. They are treating her with steroids and blood thinners to try and dissolve the clots. She is too weak now to endure the chemo and radiation. Unless she has an almost miraculous rebound, she won't be able to get back on that regimen. Our concern is that left untreated, the cancer will quickly re surge. The oncologists said the situation is not hopeless, but that the odds are not in our favor.

We only talk to mom about her getting better. We don't want to set an "end date," or put any thoughts of inevitability in her head. We're very careful about what we say in front of her. This is why we haven't said much to anyone else. We don't want someone to slip and say something unfortunate in front of her. If anybody goes to see her, we ask that they don't talk as thought she is terminal. She knows she is sick, but we want her to focus on the possibility of getting better. When the time comes to get ready, she will know better than any of us. For now, she still wants to fight it, and we want to give her every chance we can.

Update: 10:15 pm 10/8/2008

Today, mom showed improvement. Dr. Mendelson told her the she couldn't go home until she ate well and was able to get out of bed. She started eating and going to the bathroom on her own. She's still weak, but getting better and showing some spirit. If thing continue the way the are. she should be going home Wednesday(Oct. 8th,) or Thursday.(Oct 9th.)

The girls say that she is more alert in the mornings. As the day goes on and she gets tired, she starts showing more signs of confusion. The doctors won't make a prognosis on her mental state, but Betty and Kelly both seem to think that when she gets more strength back, she may regain some of her mental agility.

Update: 4:30 pm 10/2/2008

It's been too long since I've updated this. It's been harder than I expected. Not technically, but just making myself sit down and do it. My apologies to those who wished to use this site to keep up. I'll try to do better.

Good News came bundled with not so good news. Since my last update, mom has had a double mastectomy. A radical on one side, and a modified radical on the other. She did well with the surgery. She took her first pain medication almost seven hours after the surgery. Then it was because they removed a tube. She was home the next day doing relatively well.

The thing that continued to concern us was that she seemed confused. Almost suffering a mild form of intermittent dementia. We assumed that this had something to do with the cancer in her brain. They tried several things, but nothing seemed to work.

Today Kelly took her back and they discovered a blood clot in her lung. (The not so good news.) The scans of her head and chest however looked good. They now think that the blood clot occasionally restricts blood flow to her brain causing the states of confusion. She's in the hospital for the next 3 or 4 days as they try to clear the clot with medicaton.

Update: 3:11 pm 7/29/2008

Mom is not doing well. What they first thought were lesions in her brain are now tumors. I don't know if they always were tumors, or if the lesions became tumors. They are talking about radiation. Also, she now has cancer in her bones.
I don't know when the radiation therapy starts, or where it will be. I'll post more when I know.

Update: 6:12 pm 1/24/2008

Mom saw Mendelson today. The tumor has responded well. It's about ¼ the size it was.
The tumor has a protein called /har2new/ that responds to herceptin. Herceptin attacks har2new.
He is encouraged and wants to attack the cancer more aggresesively. He will increase the chemotherapy sessions to once a week.
She already has a port, so she's ready for the chemotherapy.
Two chemo drugs, Taxol and Carboplatin.
She get all three weekly for six to eight weeks.
Then he'll stop Carboplatin and continue with the other two drugs. Then another six to eight weeks.
Then he'll do another scan.( 12 to 16 weeks total)
If things look good, she will take only hereptin (which has virtually no side effects.) for another six to eight weeks.
Might be able to go into complete remission.
He'll be doing checkup scans every few weeks.
He will continue to check until either the drugs stop working, or until they can't find signs of the cancer.
There are some risks associated with this regiment. Possible side effects of the herceptin on first use only, chills and fever, vomiting nausea, bone and joint pain.

Update: 9:15 pm 1/3/2008

Mom saw the surgeon today. We have a little more info on her condition. Betty was there and will send me a more detailed report that I'll post. For now, here is what I understand the situation to be.
The two pieces of bad new are that she does have stage 4 cancer, and it is not estrogen sensitive.
There is some good news. It is of a kind that has a protein coat that responds well to chemotherapy. They want to postpone surgery until the chemo is complete. We're talking about a period of months. Then, they hope to do only a modified radical procedure. Serious surgery, but not quite as drastic as a full radical.
No one can make promises. Even less so at this early stage, but the surgeon assures us she would not recommend treatment for only six months or so life extension. We may be looking at six months, or three years. She says she has one patient who was as advanced as Mom who is now 20 years post treatment.
It sounds as though we may have a fighting shot at a valuable length of quality life.
As always, your prayers are appreciated.

Update: 12:30 pm 12/30/2007

I talked with Mom this morning. She sounds good and says she's feeling good. No bad nausea so far, but she does get a little tired.
She had company up from Gillett Saturday. I know Lauria and Delma were there. I'm not sure who else was there.
She's talked with Ralph, Jacky Beam and Jack Wheatley. Those chats always lift her spirits.

Update: 11:00 am 12/28/2007

She does have an aggressive form of breast cancer. It's metastasized into her lungs, liver, and bones. It is NOT in her brain as I first thought.  
She started chemo yesterday. (December 27) The lab results were only partially in, so they will probably refine and refocus her chemo once the full labs are in. The oncologists wants to get her “operable” as soon as possible. They will be removing something, but at this point we don't know if it will be just the lump or a more radical procedure. She will meet with the surgeon next Thursday. (Jan 3) Hopefully we will know more then.  
So far she is in good spirits. She says she's going to fight this thing, but that either way she wins. She either has more time with us, or will be with Dad and Jesus. She says either way, she wins.

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