Monday, December 30, 2013

Millie Tiemeyer

Monday February 8, 1993

I sleep very well until 6. I awake feeling so much better. I suggest we get up and go for the early bird breakfast at Eggs & Things. We do. I eat all my french toast breakfast. At 9:30 we drive to Newbury Park to check out the new roof on the Maynard house. It's pouring rain. Once home about 11 I'm tired and lay down to rest awhile. I'm not hungry for lunch but feel good.

Millie Tiemeyer calls to say Don had a heart attack and died Christmas Eve. He was 65. We have a good long talk. She's pretty upset about Don and then I tell her about my cancer. Her mom and dad both died in the last 2 years also. Only Greg is married now.

We have a good pot roast dinner and go to square dance class.

Millie was another one of Mom's lifelong childhood friends. The above photo is taken from Mom's 1952 yearbook from San Fernando High School. Millie's maiden name was Oyler. Millie and Don's oldest daughter Teri was my best childhood friend and the matron-of-honor at my wedding in 1975. We took 2 road trips together during the summer of 1970 and 1971, the first one for a week, the second for 3 weeks. I have lost touch with both Teri and Millie. My stepdad Frank and his new wife Carol visited Millie last year in the same house in Thousand Oaks where I spent many summer visits. I heard that Millie and Teri were visiting Don's grave in Westlake Village in 1993 and came upon Mom's gravesite nearby. What a shock that must have been. I'm glad Mom had a nice long visit with Millie this day.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Disconnect Myself from the Chemo Pump

Sunday February 7, 1993

Slept well until 6 a.m. After that I just rested. At 7:15 I woke Frank and we made love. It had been too long. Up at 8:15. I have orange juice. I have no appetite. Later I force some toast down.

I watch Reverend Schuller and feel somewhat better and optimistic. but I go upstairs to shower and feel so bad afterward that I fall back into bed my heart beating so hard. I try to sleep but only have terrible depressing thoughts of my funeral and what I'm wearing and how I look. I think of the hereafter but it is not pleasant.

Frank comes up. We cry. He deserves so much more than this. I decide to disconnect myself from the pump, my chemo. He agrees. I start feeling better very soon within the hours. I'm dressed, curled, hair, eye makeup and downstairs. Later I'm hungry. I eat at 4. I feel much better all evening.

So it's the chemo is what's making her feel awful, not the cancer. Look how much better she feels so quickly! I don't blame her for wanting to go off the chemo, but this is a very important decision. She is choosing death. Why is the hereafter not pleasant for her to think of I wonder? Is it just because she is so depressed, she can't focus on the glory of Heaven that awaits her? It was her strong faith at the end of her life that inspired me to turn back to Jesus, who promises eternal life if we believe in him. If I am dying, I would be calling my Christian friends to surround me and encourage me with their prayers, and to read God's promises from the Bible about eternal life.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Saturday February 6, 1992

Another rotten night and sick and depressing day. I'm too weak and ill to eat. I have no appetite. I only shower--no makeup, no hair curling. My arm still hurts and the Tylenol every 4 hours helps a lot. I'm so depressed. I feel like I'd prefer to die.

Chris calls. I try to sound up for her. I love talking to her but today I feel so much worry for her. She's going back to work February 27. It's not going to be pleasant or healthy for her. It will be a lot of stress and also worry about Derek at home with Ric. She's not strong. I'm also worried about Dolores and the baby. She has a problem with her uterus. Judy has a problem adjusting to 2 children. I'm dressed and downstairs in the evening.

I had no idea Mom felt so rotten at this point in her life. Look at her second paragraph. She says "I try to sound up for her." Why couldn't you be real with me, Mom? Why keep me in the dark? You were always strong and wise when I needed advice or help. Why didn't you allow me to be an encouragement to you? Yes, I had a lot going on in my life with a new baby at 39 years old, and a husband who has never been around babies and is now suddenly having to be Mr. Mom while I go back to a very stressful job. It would be hard and stressful, but we all have our burdens to carry. Mom has enough to worry about without worrying about me, and Dolores (Frank's daughter) and Judy (Frank's daughter-in-law).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Just Exist

Friday February 5, 1993

Up at 8 but awake since 6. I have breakfast and go back to bed to watch Regis and Cathy Lee. At 10 I get up and find I'm totally exhausted. I manage to shower but am too exhausted to put on my makeup and curl my hair. I am dressed and on the couch until 4:30. I feel a little better, and come downstairs to watch more TV. That's all I do lately. I have no interest or energy to do anything anymore. I just exist. Frank does everything. He seems driven to do it all. I'm depressed. I'm ready to be done with all this.

I don't know why, since Mom's been gone for 20 years, but I feel the need to argue with her right here! First of all, you don't need to spend an hour every morning fixing your hair and putting on make-up! You don't have to look beautiful at all times! Give yourself some slack. Second, that's not all you do is watch TV. In fact you just got back from a camping trip with 12 couples! I understand that being exhausted and in pain is depressing, but when you say you are ready to be done with all this, do you mean the cancer or life? Third, why didn't you talk to me about how you were feeling? I looked forward to tomorrow's entry and it says "I try to sound up for her" when I called Mom. Why is she hiding her feelings? I wish I would have been there more for her. I endured a horrible 9 month pregnancy with constant nausea and vomiting 24/7 beginning 6 months after Mom was diagnosed, and then I was busy raising a newborn baby. Maybe if I had known how she was feeling, I could have come down with the baby to stay with her. I am so thankful that Frank is driven to take care of everything so that Mom doesn't feel any pressure.

The photo above was taken right around this time when Derek was 6 months old and Justin was 11.

The Funeral List

Thursday February 4, 1993

Didn't sleep much after 4 a.m. but feel pretty good when I get up at 7:30. I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed until 10. Frank is at carving class.

I wash and condition my hair. After lunch I dust our bedroom. Frank goes to the valley to bank. When he returns we go to Newbury Park to check on the roofers. On the way home we buy a pie at Marie Callendar's. I spend the afternoon reading. Smokey, our cat, is on my lap every time I sit down. He won't leave me alone.

I plan to make a list for Frank to help him make calls when and if I die.

We have a chicken and rice dinner. Donna calls. She's upset that I'm not doing better.

Oh my, I hope she didn't tell Donna she was making a list for her funeral. I don't recall whether Frank used a list or Mom's address book to call friends when she died. What I do recall is that I wanted to be the one to call Donna, her best friend since childhood. I remember I tried a few times and got no answer. Finally, on the third try Donna answered the phone. She told me she and Bob had been out for a walk. It was still early in the morning, maybe 8 or 9 a.m. She said she was happy to hear from me. There was no way to break the news gently. I told her Mom had just died. We both cried. She and Bob drove down to Simi Valley from Pollock Pines the next day. Bob said Donna said nothing the whole ride down, about a 6 hour drive. Donna was the one who was diagnosed with cancer 5 years before Mom. She was treated for breast cancer in 1986. Donna beat back that nasty cancer. 27 years later she is still going strong. I just received her Christmas card and she looks great. She's 79 years old now.

Our male Boston terrier Brutus is just like Smokey. Whenever I am sitting in a chair, without being at a desk or table, he takes that as a signal to jump up in my lap and be petted.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Wednesday February 3, 1993

I slept fitfully taking Tylenol every 3-1/2 hours all night. After my shower I feel sick and terrible with chills. I crawl back into bed for 40 minutes. Frank brings me medicine, toast and orange juice. Finally, I'm ready to go to the doctor about 9:20. I feel a little better but lay down all the way to Hollywood. They check my blood and I get my new medicine. We come right home and I go to bed. When I awake an hour later I feel some better. I come down at 1 p.m. and eat sardines and crackers.

My CA125 blood test was 1260 3 weeks ago. Normal is 30 or less. It measures cancer but not considered too reliable. This is really bad. The worst I had before was 600.

I feel pretty good at 7:00. We pick up Gary and go out for a burrito. We find Marty and Kathy there. Maria has a bad cold. Gary takes food home to her. We had a good time.

I did a little research on the blood test CA125. It actually is used to monitor ovarian cancer patients to see how well their treatment is working. But is is not a good screening test to detect ovarian cancer. says, "Some women with ovarian cancer (up to 20%) never have elevated CA 125 levels, while most women who do have elevated CA 125 levels do not have cancer. In fact, because CA 125 can be elevated in so many non-cancerous conditions, only about 3% of women with elevated CA 125 levels have ovarian cancer." Even today 20 years later there is no screening test for ovarian cancer. lists the most common warning symptoms of ovarian cancer:

Swelling or bloating of the abdomen
Pelvic discomfort or heaviness
Back or abdominal pain
Gas, nausea, indigestion
Change in bowel habits
Emptying your bladder frequently
Menstrual irregularities
Weight loss or weight gain
Mass or "lump" in your pelvis that you can feel
Inability to eat normally
Pain with intercourse
Vaginal bleeding

It Would Be A Relief To Die

Tuesday February 2, 1993

I don't sleep well and wake up feeling bad. I stay in bed until 11. I finally am up and dressed but sit in the chair downstairs all day with my right arm aching terribly. It makes me sick. I take Tylenol every 3-1/2 hours, but it doesn't help much.

I'm depressed today but so miserable with pain that I think it would be a relief to die. I'm ready. I hope I don't have a lot of suffering ahead of me. Yes, Frank will suffer too. My children and grandchildren will miss me when I'm gone. Poor Cathy Thomas will have most of the load caring for mother.

I pray extra hard for a cure and long life. It's all in God's hands.

I help some with the wash.

I do remember Aunt Cathy telling me that Mom felt bad about leaving Cathy to take care of Grandma Helen, who outlived Mom by 6 years and lived until the old age of 89. I never knew Mom had such pain at this point. Either I was in denial or she hid it well, probably both. It is very difficult to stay positive when in pain. Poor thing. I'm wondering why she only has Tylenol for her pain. Why hasn't the doctor given her narcotics? I have taken Hydrocodone for back pain and for hip pain, and it's the only way I can sleep. Mom is suffering not just from pain but from exhaustion.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Cry When I Talk About Leaving Frank Alone

Monday February 1, 1993

Went to bed early and slept well so awake feeling pretty good. I was very sleepy all late afternoon and eve yesterday while watching Super Bowl.

I go have my nails done at 10:45 and the bank. Cari Lyn my manicurist is 3 months pregnant. She wants me at her wedding on March 6. I ask her what we'll do when I'm too sick to come get my nails done. We discuss how to remove the acrylic nails. I cry when I talk about leaving Frank alone when I die.

I go to Taco Bell for lunch. I rest in the afternoon after paying bills. Frank makes cutlets for dinner. I feel well enough to go to the square dance class with Frank. It's good to see everyone. I don't dance. We leave after 2 hours. We go for a malt to Hudson's. At home I go to bed at 11.

This is so sad to hear. Her manicurist must have been crying too. Mom is starting to talk about her death now and it becoming more of a reality. She seems more concerned for Frank after her death than for herself. It would be 3 more months before she passed away. When Frank and I cleaned out all of mom's clothes a few months later, he told me mom was his soulmate and no one could ever replace her. It sounds like Mom felt the same. Frank certainly was a gem. I have thanked him over and over for taking such good care of Mom those last few years. This photo was taken of Mom and Frank on Easter Sunday 3 weeks before her death. She still looks good, but tired.

What Does My Future Hold?

Sunday January 31, 1993

I didn't sleep so well. My shoulder keeps me awake. I don't feel as well when I get up about 8:30. It's 10:30 when I finally go outside to visit. Everyone has decided to come back here Memorial Day. Frank picks out a campsite. Will I be able? What condition will I be in by then? Or even March 5 when we're supposed to go to Monterey? What do I have to look forward to? What does my future hold? It's hard to plan the future. For Frank's sake I must keep planning ahead or allow him to. We must stay optimistic. We hope to go to Bakersfield for the square dance weekend March 19.

Everyone walks to the marina. I drive Jim and Penny. It's a gorgeous day. We leave for home about 2.

My curiosity got the best of me and I looked forward to those dates in her journal. Amazingly, she did make it to Monterey and Bakersfield in March, but she would pass away before the Memorial Day trip. Reality is definitely setting in and Mom is realizing that the end is near.


Saturday January 30, 1993

Slept very well in our trailer. At 10:00 I call Mom but she's gone for tests. We visit with our friends, then take a drive around to see all the many campgrounds around the lake. It's a pretty day but breezy.

I call Mom around noon. They have found 2 ulcers in her stomach. That's probably where her bleeding came from. They also checked her bone marrow and her rectum.

I'm tired and lay down for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Karen comes in to visit with me. I like her a lot. She really cares about me.

We have a nice potluck at 5 and spend the night around the campfire. I rest in the trailer from 8-9. We go to bed at 11:15.

Having 2 bleeding ulcers is not funny at all, but I had to chuckle when I heard that Grandma Helen had this problem, because as far back as I remember, she put lots of hot sauce on absolutely everything! It was like her tastebuds were numb, so the spicier the better. No wonder after years of spicy food, she developed ulcers.

That was sweet of Mom's friend to come in to visit her while she was resting. I'll bet that lifted her spirits.

That sounds like so much fun to circle around the campfire on a cool January night with 12 other couples. What a party! Makes me want to find an RV club. We hardly ever use ours. Frank and his new wife Carol still go RVing with their square dancing friends a couple times every year.