My wife, Susan, age 56, died May 5, 2008 from IBC metastases. In July 2006 and again in July 2007, her yearly mammography stated: A thickening of the breast tissue is noted, which is commensurate with post-menopausal women. Well, it certainly was not “commensurate with post-menopause, but in fact was IBC.
It was found by CT-Scan in September 2007 when my wife complained of stomach aches. Bad gall bladders run in her family, so she assumed it was her turn to lose her gall bladder. When she was biopsied in October, the cancer was already at Stage IV, with metastasis to the left arm lymph nodes. In November 2007 bone Scans, lung scans, MRI of the spine and full body scans revealed evidence of cancer in her middle back, several ribs on both sides, both hips, the pelvic bone and in both femurs. Her initial chemotherapy was trial-and-error and nothing worked until late January 2008. At that time we saw a noticeable reduction in the size of her left breast from that of a large grapefruit to the size of a large orange.
However, in early January 2008 she broke her right femur clean off of the hip ball while easing herself onto the toilet. In February she had 850 cc of fluid removed from her left lung. In April she had a left femoral rod inserted as a preventative action. All of these setbacks made it impossible for her to stay on her chemotherapy regimen so that by late April the cancer appeared as lesions on her liver.
Her last hospitalization was April 26, 2008 for fluid on her lungs. By this time she was deteriorating quickly. (It didn’t help that the hospital radiology department refused to aspirate her lungs until the 4th day because their protocols require a blood platelet count of 50,000 while after five units of platelets in four days, my wife’s count was still only 42,000.) Finally, I demanded the pulmonologist come to my wife’s room and aspirate her left lung. He arrived within 20 minutes and within 10 minutes extracted 1100 cc of fluid from the left lung and the following day extracted 650 cc from her right lung.
May 3rd we brought my darling wife of 23 years home under Hospice Care. Thirty-six hours later at 1:30 AM May 5th my wife died. My dear, adorable wife slipped the bounds of Earth and flew away to Heaven.
I believe if her radiologist, OB/GYN physician and/or primary care doctor had taken notice of the thickening breast tissue in 2006, my wife could have been saved. She was a registered nurse for 35 years and the closest thing to an Angel on Earth, and also my dearest and sweetest friend.
Do not take anything a doctor tells you as gospel. Insist on following-up on everything. If a loved one is in the hospital, “you must” advocate for their care with all the tenacity and strength you’ve got or they will be left to the whims and comings of the “hospital system.”