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This will be a tough year


Ever since I started thinking about returning to school, my mom has always been super supportive and played a huge role in helping me to pay for university. She was definitely tough on me, but that's because she cared and wanted to make sure that I succeeded.

My mom was the type to try to find any nursing students at the hospital where she worked and asked if they knew me. She liked to talk to her coworkers about me and you could tell she was very proud of me. After finishing my last exam in my 2nd year of BScN (April 2014), my mom began talking about how she was experiencing lower back discomfort that radiated toward her lower right ribs (and also started having atrial fib).

My mom has never really been one to workout or anything, but at the time she just began working out at a gym in town, so we assumed that was the cause of her pain, and just like her, we all dismissed it. As weeks continued the pain began to increase so dramatically that she was unable to walk anymore or go upstairs to bed, so she slept on the couch. Doctors were unsure about the reason as to why she was experiencing the pain, they tossed around fibromyalgia a few times and gave her pain medications to help. The pain medication she was receiving didn't do much to help with the pain. At one point they were giving her 4-5 morphine pills 5mg each, every 4 hours and breakthrough pills in between, still she experienced intense pain. She tried all kinds of pain medications non had helped. Eventually my mom had increasing shortness of breath, and eventually she had 2 word dyspnea, was rushed to the hospital and when they took the Xray they noticed she had a pleural effusion, and that there was also a mass on her right lung. This happened in early May.

When they removed the pleural effusion about 3L of fluid came out within an hour. As days progressed they did a PET scan, CT scan, barium swallow, took a biopsy of the mass sent it to the Cancer Assessment Clinic and was told that they would contact her about when her appointment would be, which was set for May 21st. She ended up having more breathing problems that made it impossible for her to stay at home, so she spent a while in the hospital. Just like anything else she had her good days and her bad days throughout the next few weeks.

May 21st finally arrived, my sister, my aunt, my cousin and myself all went up with my mom to hear the news. She was diagnosed with Stage 4a NSCLC, that was inoperable due to it pressing on her esophagus and the back of her heart (which they believe was the cause of her atrial fib). They said that within the next week that we would meet up with the chemo physician, as well as the radiation physician. The chemo physician stated that he did not believe that chemo would be the best first option to take as my mom had a kidney transplant 7 years ago, due to being diagnosed with Goodpasture's syndrome at the time.

So he referred us to his colleague who specialized in radiation therapy. He suggested an entire week of radiation which would help to reduce her symptoms and help with the pain. We were all for it. The pain specialists did an amazing job while she went through radiation. They gave her a PCA, found the sweet spot which helped reduce my moms pain from a 9/10 to a 4/10. As weeks went by her pain would continue to decrease, to where it stayed at about 2-4/10, though there would be flareups where she'd have much more pain. She lost the ability to walk and even eating for the last while had become very difficult for her. (They said it was probably the decadron(dexamethasone) they were giving her to help with the swelling + give her an appetite).

When we came back to town, she had to stay in the hospital to be watched. But then the ball started to roll, a palliative nurse came in, my mom signed up to hospice, though stated she wanted to die at home, but if it was not possible because of things becoming too complicated that she would like to go to hospice if a spot was open. Time started to move very quickly at this time. DNR papers were signed, lawyers were contacted, funeral home stuff, thrombosis clinic appointments. All t's were crossed and all i's dotted. Eventually everything was set in place, and she was finally home.

-- Forgot to mention we returned to see the chemo doctor and he told us he was against chemo because my mom was not strong enough now, and that if he did it would more than likely kill her faster, so for the time being, chemo was not an option anymore.

Summer continued, there were great days and terrible days too.. One day they feel as though she had an overdose on her pain medication (her bolus was increased from 3mg to 6mg, and her infusion rate increased from 3.0mg/hr to 3.5mg/hr of hydromorphone 10mg/ml (i believe)). On this day we saw her bright and early at 8am, she was eating some breakfast, we said we'd come back later to see her.. At 10:30am she felt tired, laid on her chair and became unresponsive, pulse was below 40, and breathing was 4 per minute and very shallow. The NP showed up and said that this might be the time. She stayed unresponsive, until randomly she woke up at 9:30pm at night, when they tried to move her to make her more comfortable.

On august 10th, she started having a rattling sound when she would breath, as though there was a bunch of phlegm or something in her throat. But she couldn't cough it up. All PO meds were stopped she couldn't swallow them anymore. We were then told that her only working lung (also forgot to mention before that one of her lungs collapsed) was progressively getting worse and that she may only have a few weeks.

On august 13th, she couldn't sleep even with the medication she normally took to help her sleep.. August 14th same thing happened, she couldn't sleep. August 15th, she managed to fall asleep but woke up in a panic as she couldn't catch her breath (the rattling got very bad at this time) My sister smacked her on the back and this helped and she could now catch her breath.

August 16th, 10am, we were told they were giving my mom a strong dose of medication to help her sleep since she barely slept the past 3 days. She again randomly woke up, with difficulties breathing and also semi-unconscious. The nurse came over right away and we were told that she might not make it till Tuesday. We stayed by her side the entire night, holding her hand, talking to her, though she couldn't speak, her eyes were rolling backwards, you could tell she wasn't doing good.

My sister, 2 aunts, a cousin and myself were all there, waiting for my moms spouse to return to give my mom her medication to help her sleep. He arrived at 10:30pm, gave her the medication, and at 10:45pm August 16th, 2014, she passed away with us by her side, holding her hands. I strongly believe that she stayed with us until he was there with us. She passed away at the age of 57.

This will be a very tough year because my mom was such a strong supporter and was so proud of me and with what I have accomplished so far. I'll be reminded every day when I am at placement and doing clinical skills of my mom and what she went through. I love her and miss her so much. I've had an overwhelming amount of support from friends, teachers and family, which have helped tremendously.

A week or so before my mom passed away, I told her that my school would be e-mailing us soon to tell us where we would be doing our placement for third year. I told her that it would be amazing and would make jump over the moon if I was accepted to do my placement at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. The day of her memorial mass, I received an email from my school stating: "Please accept this email as confirmation that you will be completing your acute clinical placement at CHEO - 4E Infant Medicine Floor"

I love you mom, and I will make you proud.

I can barely text because my tears are spilling all over my cellphone screen. My condolences and i wish you nothing but the best throughout your nursing journey. Yes, it will be tough but u have your guardian Angel looking out for you. God bless 👼

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

Deepest condolences. I know there are no words that will make this upcoming semester any less difficult. But I'm sure your mother would be honored to read such a beautiful tribute. Best of luck on your coveted placement.

LadyFree28, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma. Has 10 years experience.

My condolences; you mother may not be here in the physical sense, but I am sure she is proud of you at this moment-congrats on your placement!


Specializes in ED, Cardiac-step down, tele, med surg.

My deepest condolences for your loss. Your strength to carry on is admirable! I wish you the best in you studies and in your nursing career.

my deepest condolences.i wish you the best in your studies.for sure your mom is so proud of u.


Specializes in Critical care.

That was a beautiful tribute to your mother; I am so very sorry for her loss. You will do great things in her memory!

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Typing through tears is a little difficult, especially when my vision is so blurry even when I'm NOT crying.

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother. I can only imagine how proud of you she must be at this very moment. You have someone up there watching out for you every step of the way, just as she did when you were growing up. God bless you. ((((HUGS))))

As a 57 year old mom of four kids , I will tell you your mom was proud of you and would be even more proud to read your tribute to her. I am proud of you.

My condolences in the loss of your mom. She sounds like a wonderful woman and I'd have loved to have met her.

Keep us updated on your year. If you need anyone to talk to, just ask.

Edited by Spidey's mom

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing and best of luck to you as you continue to make your mother proud.


Has 21 years experience.

Thank you for giving us the privilege of reading about your wonderful mom! Your story brought tears to my eyes. She sounds like a great woman who raised you to be a strong, smart, loving person. It's very hard to get over losing a mom. Especially one that is as cared for as yours. You'll have to do as the old cliche says: take one day at a time. You will do great! It's what she expects from you and it seems like you've never let her down. She will help you through this year. I think she already has...you got your first choice assignment ;-). Good luck to you and keep the faith. She's looking down on you and probably pointing and saying to her fellow angels "See! Right there! In the student nurse uniform! That's MY baby!"

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

She passed away at the age of 57.

I extend my deepest condolences for the loss of your mother. I will also keep my fingers crossed for you and your family as you progress on your journey through nursing school.

The Allnurses.com community is here for you in the event that you need virtual support any day, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As I read this tears came to my eyes, you have my condolences and you will make it through this year and the next.


Specializes in Hospice. Has 3 years experience.

Wow...... tears in my eyes. Wonderful tribute and may your Mom rest in peace. Only six years older than I am. :( My Mom is 76 and ill and I was hoping she'd make it to my graduation next May, but I have serious doubts. So sorry for your loss.

My condolences to you and your family. May your mother’ssoul rest in peace. Stay strong during this year and always remember that sheis proud of you and would give you the strength that you need.

I just couldn't hold back my tears. (((HUGS))) I'm sorry for your loss, but know that your mom is proud of you.

I am so sorry for your loss, it is a terrible thing when you lose a parent and very hard to deal with. I cruise through these posts every once in awhile and I was really stunned when I saw your post because I am dealing with the same thing, except it was my Dad. He was diagnosed in Feb. '14 with lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain and to his liver. I was just accepted into nursing school for April and he was so proud of me... bragged to all the nurses that soon I would be one too. My father and I did not have a close relationship, not for a lack of me trying but it was what it was. He lived out of state and that was HARD. He had brain tumors in an area that made him a completely different person, he was angry and pushed all of his family away. I went through my first quarter of nursing school wondering everyday how he was and just wishing that he would talk to me. He passed on July 19th. He wanted no funeral, nothing. I never got to say goodbye, never got to have any resolution to our rocky relationship. He died an angry man with no family by his side. There is more to this story and he, of course, had help in his decision to alienate his family but I don't really want to get into that. I guess what I am trying to express is that you got to be there for your mother, you knew how much she loved you and how special you were to you. Right now it hurts and it will always hurt but in time you will be able to cherish those memories and find joy in them and peace. I always wanted my father to be proud of me. I still pursue my nursing career in honor of my Dad hoping some way he will know how much I loved him. I know you are doing the same and I am sure she is walking with you every step of the way. I understand your pain, I really do.

Wow, thank you for sharing that with us! Your mother is watching down on you now, beaming with pride, have no doubt.