Rebecca Sinclair Riggleman Zick
Born March 2, 1935
Mother of 4 … grandmother to 10 … great grandmother to 16
Two-time cancer warrior, widow, woman of faith, hero and friend ❤️
This my beautiful mother. She is beautiful inside and out and has always maintained an amazing attitude throughout her very difficult life.
Right now, I’m in her room, lying on a cot listening to her take very labored breaths. The oxygen concentrator is rhythmically “singing”. Every 90 minutes her nurse brings morphine and/or Ativan. It helps her to breathe a little easier and causes her to not feel as if she’s suffocating. There are tumors throughout her body. The ones in her chest and neck are closing in on her windpipe. She (THANKFULLY) is in no pain but is virtually unresponsive now. She is dying. Cancer is stealing her from me.
Thymic cancer. Stage 4.
This is my mom today .
She will not win this battle, but she knows she is loved and adored by family, church members, friends, and even the medical staff here at the facility. She’s the strongest person that I (and I’m sure many others) have ever met.
This is her story:
In September of 2014, mom began experiencing some shoulder pain not long after a fall. She then exhibited chest pain, a chronic cough, and some shortness of breath. After a myriad of tests, it was determined that she had an anterior mediastinal mass (a mass on the front side of her body located in the area of her heart, breastbone and left lung). The picture below has an arrow pointing to the mediastinum.
Biopsies were taken and the pathology report came back with questionable results. I say “questionable” because the primary source was determined to be either KIDNEY or BREAST. But …. the PET scan did not show any hot spots in either area. That was confusing. The oncologist requested that any remaining tissue be sent out to a company called BioTheranostics . This is a specialty lab that identifies the source cells with a certain percentage of confidence. My mom’s report came back with a 96% confidence level that her tumor was of THYMUS origin.
My mother has some other medical issues and is 79 years old now. Because of these factors, she chose to forego treatment and has a Living Will established to specify her end-of-life wishes. Hospice is now making daily visits.
It’s a difficult thing …. watching your mother die. My sisters and I are sleep deprived and we are irritable. Yet, we are doing our best, in the best way we know how, to support each other and to not allow ourselves to fall into the trap of lashing out at one another.
It’s hard to know whether we are supposed to be with mom day and night (for support) or if it’s better to have everyone leave the room for periods of time (so that she can rest peacefully) … without being watched, or stroked, or repositioned, or having one of our faces stuck right in front of hers. We have told her how much we love her, held her hand, and given her permission to “go”. She continues to hold on. Did I mention that she is strong? And, stubborn?
Her status today based on her vital signs:
Her blood pressure is: 146/88
Pulse = 110
Respirations = 4 per minute
She is in no pain.
Morphine and Ativan is administered to help alleviate anxiousness and to relax her throat and consequently, her breathing.
She now has tumors in her neck, across her upper abdomen, behind both knees and who knows where else. The one by her heart has grown and now the heart can be heard hitting the mass. Through a stethoscope it sounds like sandpaper rubbing. The Hospice nurse predicts that either the heart will wear itself out and eventually stop ….. or the mass will continue growing to the point that it will not allow the heart to beat.
She has not eaten in eight days and has had only a couple tablespoons of liquid in any given 24-hour period. I just don’t know how long this can go on. I have prayed for the Lord to take her quickly, gently, and peacefully. I want it to be beautiful for her. I want her to have an amazing time walking and running (it has been 50 years since she has been able to walk well!). I want her to be singing and dancing! Laughing! Sitting at the feet of Jesus! Beautiful colors and rainbows and angels everywhere … that’s how I envision it. All joy. Pure joy.
Please contact me with any family or friends that you’d like to have added to this site. An entire page will be dedicated to your loved one. It doesn’t have to be an anal cancer warrior. All cancer patients are welcome!!