Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Long Story-Part 5

I was sitting on my couch in the dark watching a lifetime movie marathon on the Sunday afternoon that she called to give me the report. The doctor’s had called. (Who knew they made calls on Sundays?) The pathology report was back. The cancer is ovarian and not your typical epithelial or stromal cell ovarian cancer. Nope! It is the worst kind. Carcinosarcoma or Malignant Mixed Mullerian Tumor. I listened to my mother tell me the news and the plan. 40+ radiation treatments followed by 6 rounds of chemotherapy. I felt like I had been hit in the chest with a baseball bat. I couldn’t breath. We hung up and I ran outside and began pacing the sidewalks trying to catch my breath until the tears finally came.

I sat on my front porch in the heat with my head in my hands until Adam finally convinced me to come inside. Olivia awoke from her nap and I somehow gathered the strength to pull myself together. From that moment forward, I decided that I was going to be strong. This, after all, is not about me.

It is about her.

The months of radiation and chemo seemed to fly by. Of course, I was not the one being poked and prodded. I was not the one sick and weak from the chemicals. I did not lose my hair.

This is as far as I got before she got sick. Maybe one day I will continue. Until then...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thank You Again

I just wanted to say "thank you" again to everyone who has called, sent an e-mail or text message, come by, sent a card, food, or flowers, etc...I am so thankful to everyone for the outpouring of love and support.

Elissa, Brian, and I are still at my mom's house in Dallas. We are adjusting to life without her and will next week go our seperate directions.

I am so lucky to have you all in my life. Thank you!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Obituary

Amanda Olivia Siebenhausen Fink

Amanda Olivia Siebenhausen Fink arrived on February 20, 1951 on a rainy day in Wichita Falls, Texas. On Thursday, September 18, 2008, her angels came to accompany her back to Heaven after a 412 day battle with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer. During her youth, Mandy had the privilege of living and learning in several different places. Her family spent time in Houston, New Orleans, England, Holland, and Westport, Connecticut where she graduated from Staples High School in 1969. She went on to attend Winthrop College in Rockhill, SC and finished her undergraduate degree in education at the University of North Texas in Denton. At the time of her passing, Amanda was a 7th grade English teacher at Tasby Middle School in DISD. She loved each of her students and cared deeply about education and building brighter futures. She taught in RISD and DISD for over 17 years enriching the minds of young people. In 2000, she earned a Master's degree in Education Administration from the Univ- ersity of North Texas in hopes of becoming a school principal. Prior to her return to teaching in 1991, Mandy was a stay at home mother as well as a member of the Junior Group of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League (President 1990- 1991), the Junior League of Richardson, the Dallas Historical Society-101 Club, Young Lawyers Wives, and several other social and volunteer organizations. In add- ition to her work, she enjoyed mystery novels, hot tea, English gardens, warm baths, lying out on the beach, shopping with her daughters and granddaughters and fishing with her son. She was a faithful follower of Christ and longtime member of Highland Park United Methodist Church. Amanda was a cherished daughter, proud sister, loving aunt, inspiring teacher, and close friend to many, but her best and most favorite role was as a mother and grandmother. Her mother, Harrianna "Anne" Butler Siebenhausen and grand- mother, Lois Olivia Rudder Clark, predeceased her. Surviving family members include Amanda's father, Christian Harman Siebenhausen Jr. and wife, Glenna of Comm- erce, TX. Daughters: Lauren Elizabeth Shingleton and husband Adam of Austin, TX; and Elissa Leanna Lindsey and husband Steven of Atlanta, GA. Son: Brian Frederick Fink of Dallas, TX. Granddaughters: Olivia Jane Shingleton of Austin, TX and Reagan Lauren Lindsey of Atlanta, GA. Sister: Karen Anne Weichmann and husband Craig of Greenville, TX. Brothers: Christian Harman Siebenhausen III and wife Pam of Greenville, TX; and Locke Butler Siebenhausen and wife Nicole of Katy, TX. Nieces and Nephews: Joelle, David, and Evie Beisner of Austin, TX; Karena Weichmann of Austin, TX; Kristianna, Michael, and Ellie Breed of Dallas, TX; Trevor Weichmann of Memphis, TN; Christian and Lesley Siebenhausen of Dallas, TX; James, Melissa, and Gryphon Siebenhausen of Greenville, TX; and Ivory Kay Siebenhausen of Katy, TX. Pallbearers will be Brian Fink, Adam Shingleton, Steven Lindsey, C.H. Siebenhausen, Chris Siebenhausen, Locke Siebenhausen, Craig Weichmann, Stephen Fink, George Russell, Gabe Arizmendi, and Chris George. The family would like to thank Dr. E. Colin Koon and the gynecologic oncology group at Texas Oncology in the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center as well as the caring nurses and aides with Vitas Hospice Care. We extend a special "thank you" to Delia Robles, HHA, CNA, who cared for Amanda and became her friend during the last days of her life. Friends are cordially invited to attend a visitation from 6 o'clock to 8 o'clock in the evening on Monday, September 22nd, at Sparkman Funeral Home, 1029 South Greenville Avenue, Richard- son, Texas 75081. There will be a memorial celebration of Amanda's life on Tuesday, September 23rd, at 4:00 p.m. in the Cox Chapel at Highland Park United Methodist Church, 3300 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas 75205, with a reception to follow in the chapel parlor. A private graveside service and interment will be held in the Colonial Gardens at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas, Texas. Those who wish to make a donation in lieu of flowers may do so, in memory of Amanda S. Fink, to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, DFW Chapter, P.O. Box 3092, Coppell, Texas, 75019.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Long Story-Part 4

Finally, around 9 p.m. my mother arrived in her hospital room at the women’s center in Baylor. She was puffy and out of it, but not that out of it. She immediately looked at the clock and asked me why she was just getting back to her room at 9 p.m. She had heard the same things that I did. The surgery and recovery should only be a total of about 5 hours. Now it was 8+ hours later.

I shrugged. (The doctors had advised me not to say anything right?)

Around 10 p.m. everyone who had been waiting for her to come out of surgery began to leave. It had been decided that I would be the one to spend the night. She was mostly sleeping anyway, but as soon as everyone left and it was just us, she sat straight up in bed and motioned for me to come stand by her bed. She looked me straight in the eyes and said “I have cancer. That is why it took so long, right?”

How do you tell your mother that she has cancer?

I was frozen for about 3 seconds, but it seemed like 3 hours. I had to tell her. It was she who had taught me to always tell the truth and besides, she would want to know. So, I caved (against the doctor’s instructions) and nodded my head. Her response was similar to what mine had been several hours earlier. She just nodded and went back to sleep.

At 4 a.m. she really woke up. The anesthesia had worn off and she wanted to get out of bed and walk out into the halls. I took the oxygen off of her and unstrapped her legs from the self inflating stockings that promote circulation after surgery. We pushed the button to raise the bed and I helped her out.

What is the first thing she did after discovering that she had cancer?


The hospital stay lasted several more days and was filled with friends, flowers, and well wishes. The recovery from surgery alone would take at least 6 weeks. By then, the pathology reports would be back and a plan of attack on this disgusting cancer would be devised and ready to be executed.

I think there is still more...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hot Air Balloons

I feel as though these "updates" are becoming monotonous, but I guess I will post another...

My mom is no longer able to walk to the bathroom and shower. She is very confused and often gets angry. I think her anger and frustration is more at herself than other people but she doesn't know how to express herself. Her strong mind is trapped in a haze of pain medication. It is sometimes easier to just agree with her than try and explain things. It is hard to see my mother this way, but the digression has been slow and for that, we are lucky.

I was lying in bed this morning thinking about how she used to be. She would feel horrible from chemo, have pain in her abdomen and be hurting from radiation and she would still go to school to teach her 7th graders. She was (and still is) determined. She did not slow down until about 5 days ago. She never wanted to be this way. Her confused "self" is not her. It brings me peace to know that when she passes, she will be whole again and this is how she would want things to be.

Olivia asked me a question on Friday that was cute, but really got me thinking. She asked me how God was going to get Nana and take her to Heaven. I told her that I wasn't sure about the "how" but when it was time, God would come and pick her up and safely get her to her destination. She said "Do you think he will come in a hot air balloon?"

I didn't even know that she was aware of hot air balloons, but the more I think about it...the more I like the idea. Maybe there is a divine hot air balloon that picks up God's children and carries them to their Father. Seeing God's grace through the eyes of a 3-year old is AMAZING!

I have already typed too much. Please forgive my misspellings, grammatical errors, and misplaced words, it is early and I am tired.

Happy Tuesday

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Break in the Story...

I don't have any "bits" of story to post today, but do have other news. We moved my mom home to hospice care on Tuesday. She has finally relaxed, which is hard on us but I am sure, good for her. She is no longer nearly as responsive as she was in the hospital and she doesn't feed herself or get up nearly as much. It is hard, but I know that she needs to relax. I think that hardest part is that she doesn't really talk much anymore. In the hospital, she was talking and alert. Now she is mainly asleep with a few breakthroughs here and there. We have had some wonderful hospice nurses here and are just trying to enjoy this time.

Tonight on ABC, NBC, and CBS, there is a special called "Stand Up To Cancer." I cannot wait to watch! In looking through obituaries in Dallas, 75% of deaths are due to cancer. It is so scary to think that "THIS MANY" people are being affected by this horrible disease. I think it is time that we all make a stand! This special is being aired at just the right time!

Happy Friday!