Friday, January 9, 2009

Ceil’s Smile

Many people have told us, by email and in person, that one of the things they will miss most about mom is her fantastic smile. We agree. In the past week, we’ve looked through many of our digital and print photos of mom throughout her life and this has been a great comfort for us. We wanted to share them with you, so I’ve created a set on flickr where everyone can go and be reminded of Ceil’s smile.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Post from Rachel & Carla

Hello, this post is from Rachel & Carla, Ceil’s daughters. We’re sorry to have to tell the readers of this blog that our mom passed away at the end of January 3rd.

As she mentioned in her last post, Ceil was able to spend the holiday season with family and friends, and although her energy and appetite were waning, she thoroughly enjoyed visiting and being visited by loved ones. On New Year’s Eve we noticed that her energy and mobility were severely decreased. On New Year’s day she received visits and phone calls from friends and family, but didn’t have the energy to leave her bed. It became apparent that she was very dehydrated. We kept her as hydrated as possible, and on Friday we brought her in to see her doctors, who recommended that she be admitted to the hospital for more comprehensive rehydration and observation.

Our hope and expectation was that they would rehydrate her, perhaps give her a blood transfusion, and she would regain her energy and vitality and then return home to resume her fight against the disease. But on Saturday, despite excellent and thorough treatment, it was clear that something was not right. The doctors at NYU Hospital quickly took her to the ICU and determined that the melanoma had aggressively spread. It was very sudden and unexpected, and her liver had failed. The doctors were very patient and helpful, but they made it clear that the melanoma had won.

We had seen what the disease was doing to her, especially in the past couple months, but I think we all really believed, as many of you did, that she could beat this thing through sheer force of will. It was an extremely difficult day, but she was comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.

We know that this blog was very important to her, as a way to make sense of her struggle against this illness, as a way for her to communicate with people and as a way for her to practice her love of writing. We have attempted to contact people we know, but she also touched many people through this blog that we would not know how to reach otherwise.

We will be holding a visitation/memorial service for Ceil on Thursday, January 8th from 3-7pm at the Hawthorne Funeral Home. We welcome all of her friends to join us. See the site for directions and details.

In lieu of sending flowers, please consider making a small donation to the NYU Cancer Center in Ceil's name. They were so incredibly wonderful and supportive of our mom, throughout the time she was fighting this disease, and they continue to do very important research. (NYU Melanoma Research Fund, NYU Clinical Cancer Center, 9th Floor, 160 East 34th Street, NY, NY 10016. Attention: Dr. Pavlick, In memory of Celia Silver Rosenfeld)

Please feel free to leave comments here for Ceil, her friends and her family. We would like to print these comments out and have them available at her memorial service. Let us know if you would prefer not to have your comments included in this event. If you would rather send a private message to the family, or have questions about her or this blog, we will continue to receive email at Ceil’s email address (ceil[at]ceilsilver[dot]com) or you can use Rachel’s email address (mirka23[at]gmail[dot]com).

Thank you all, our mom was very special to us, and I know she was very special to so many people.

Friday, December 26, 2008

New complication

I hope all of you who celebrate it had a wonderful Christmas. And those of you who don’t also had a wonderful down-day. Just a calm warm day filled with the simple pleasures of family, friends, love, and warmth.

That’s what we did: Cast aside any previous complications in our relationships with each other to enjoy dinner with both of my daughters, my ex, my ex’s girlfriend, and myself; a very congenial and caring group.

But today it’s back to reality; my reality being that I can sit or lie down for hours feeling strong and relatively pain-free, but as soon as I get up, or take a few steps, or put something in my stomach, I’m immediately winded and nauseous.

Wednesday I had yet another MRI on my neck and head; another procedure to attempt to explain some of my symptoms. Today I got the test results.

The MRI shows a tiny tumor in my cerebellum. My doctor is “concerned, but not upset” about the turn of events, since the situation is very treatable with Gamma Knife Radiation therapy, they work with a team of radiologists they regard very highly, the tumor is very small, and the size and position of this tumor explain most of my remaining symptoms.

The tumor is located in a part of the brain that controls motor coordination, motion detection, and nausea; in short, deals with equilibrium. They noticed it because, unlike the scan performed in the emergency room last week, the latest MRI contained contrast and included the whole head, not just my neck, producing a very fine-detailed picture.

I will need to consult with the radiologists early next week to schedule treatment. The procedure doesn’t require staying overnight in the hospital, but it is an all-day event, so it requires some coordination to get me to and from the hospital. Fortunately, my daughter who lives in Manhattan will be in town next week, and her apartment is conveniently located near the hospital.

I’ve entered into some scary territory.

On the one hand, there are certainly new risks involved with this new procedure. On the other, in order to restart systemic treatment for the cancer, I need to address the symptoms that are weakening me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Getting things done

I have a friend visiting today; it’s great. She washed my kitchen floor (that’s love!), and brought me homemade potato pancakes (genetic), built a fire in the fireplace (warmth) and provided wonderful conversation and camaraderie (that’s priceless!).

There were times in our lives when we could practically dash around the corner for a cup of coffee or a drink together, but she lives on Long Island, while I now live in Westchester, so I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like to. We’ve been friends for almost thirty-five years, share a lot of life elements, and we keep in touch regularly via phone.

Things can’t get much better!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Erratic schedule

I can’t wait to call my doctor’s office in the morning; so much so that I’m up again in the middle of the night!

Well, it’s not quite the middle, as I’ve slept less than three hours, but I did wake up in mid-hot-flash, feeling like I might need some more pain medicine, and now waiting some until the right interval has passed and I’ve burned off a bit more energy.

Medication juggling act: Cancer involves a mammoth effort of pain and nausea management. I’m looking forward to the feedback on how to proceed. I think we’re on the right track, but I want to get back to figuring out whether Gleevec is “my drug” and if so, what’s the correct dosage

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A better day

I awoke this morning feeling a whole lot better than I have in a long time. For one thing, I slept through the night. And in addition, I was nearly pain-free! My face was less droopy, though not completely so, and it came and went through the day. I’m encouraged from the way the day started that this Bell’s Palsy nerve damage might be a transient condition. The cosmetic distortion is unsettling, but it’s not painful.

My older daughter is still here for the rest of the weekend. By Christmas Day we’ll be gathered again, with my younger daughter, at the home of my ex/her father. His girlfriend may also be there and it should be a quiet, lounge-around day of gratitude, life, and warmth.

I’m so glad we all have this time together. And I’m grateful for the many extensions of love from my very supportive online and offline family.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day in the ER

I felt an odd sensation as I slept early this morning; the right side of my face became slack. I was worried it might be a stroke! The phone rang early and sure enough, I could barely speak. I blamed it on just waking up, but it was really the loss of facial control.

I called my doctor and my ex, and consensus seemed to be that it was Bell‘s Palsy, rather than a stroke, but that I should go to the local emergency room to have it checked out. I needed to take medications, but I wasn’t sure what I could keep in my stomach, and I needed to get hydrated, so it seemed a particularly good idea.

I’ll spare the details of a day with yet more doctors, procedures, bad weather, and just getting by. The short version is that I had a CT Scan, chest x-ray, and an EKG - the usual tests - and they came to the same conclusion, that it's Bell's Palsy. Just when it seems things can’t get more complicated, they do. I certainly hope this condition is short-lived; it can be.

My ex continues to be terrific. He spent the morning in the hospital with me, and my older daughter is home with me now to help me through the weekend. I’m ready to crawl back into bed.