My husband, Gene, had been having severe bouts of hiccups whenever
he ate. He finally had an endoscopy and was diagnosed with
esophageal cancer in April 2003. We thought this couldn’t
happen to us because no one in Gene’s family had ever
Our first round of treatment included five weeks of radiation
and chemotherapy. Halfway into our ordeal, Gene began dropping
weight; it was difficult for him to eat and he just didn’t
have an appetite. I cooked myself into oblivion. Nothing worked;
food was not appealing to Gene. I felt I had failed my loved
one. He wasn’t eating though he knew he had to eat for
energy. We tried Ensure, Glucerna and Boost to gain weight, all
to no avail. Finally, we discovered Frusion from Dannon, a liquid
yogurt he could tolerate and drink without too much fuss. Mission
"Your show with Betty was serious and I loved hearing the two of you when you laughed together. It felt like the two of you were really connected. The information that Betty shared was life changing. I am going to pass to others I know. She is a strong woman. I also liked your own vulerability about your relationship. Your show is changing my life and the lives of others all over the world. Thank you." Ave Montgomery
As we continued on this path, there were numerous trips to
and there were trips to the emergency room due to dehydration,
low blood count and fatigue. At times I didn’t know if
I would make it to the next day. Gene’s surgery was in
July of 2003 and was a huge success. He made it through
the 9 ½ hour ordeal with flying colors, but his caregiver
was running on adrenaline. Gene was released after 2 ½ weeks
from the hospital to come home. He was given a clean bill of
health. He was cancer-FREE!!
By November of 2003 Gene was eating on his own. He had lost
30 pounds and wasn’t putting any of it back on. (It is amazing
how those fat calories found me instead of him!) Nothing tasted
good but he continued to have a great attitude and tried different
concoctions to appease me.
Digestive problems began again to plague Gene in early 2004.
We sought consultation to find this was “normal” and
not to worry. Finally in April 2004 a CAT scan and an MRI were
scheduled to see what was happening. They discovered the cancer
had returned with a vengeance. Gene had lesions in his liver,
behind his stomach, on the adrenal gland and two spots on the
frontal lobe of his brain. How could this happen? We had received
a clean bill of health in October 2003! We were devastated. Our
second round of radiation and chemotherapy began. But this time,
I knew I needed help. I did not have the energy or wherewithal
to deal with this alone.
I called Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas to get
the schedule for their support group for caregivers only to
learn Baylor did not offer such a program. I went to several
Baylor staffers with topics in hand asking for assistance.
The more information I could garner, the better the caregiver
and advocate I could be for Gene. Baylor listened! The support
group for family and friends of cancer patients began in October
2004. This group became my therapy; and it carried me through
some very tough times.
The more involved I became with Gene’s medical team, the
better caregiver AND advocate I became. One of life’s nuggets
I learned was to listen to my intuition: 99% of the time, I was
right. I knew this patient better than the doctor of record.
I had to be aggressive and recommend changes especially when
the medicine was not working properly or when fatigue became
unbearable. This was a hard lesson. I do not have a medical background…merely
a degree in the school of hard knocks.
Unfortunately, my precious Gene lost his
courageous battle with cancer November 2004. Yet, his
spirit continues to shine because the support group for family
and friends is paramount. My promise to Gene is to continue
with the support group because it is so vital for the caregiver’s
well being. I was just like you when our journey began in April
what was happening and afraid of the unknown. However, I have
gained strength while helping others cope with this roller
coaster ride. We had angels guiding us and helping us cope
throughout this journey — the friendly valet guys, the
upbeat receptionists, our medical team, the compassionate nurses
and even the mail room guys — all greeted us warmly and
made us an extended family member of Baylor.
You can read the rest of the story here: The Story Continues.
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