Updated: Mar 15, 2022
Chinese Lunar New Year brings on emotions this time of the year. Chinese New Year is a time to celebrate. This is the time to remove the bad and old, and welcome the new and good.
I am writing this blog on January 28, 2022. This marks the first year that my mother-in-law will not be celebrating with us. It brings sadness to me. However, her passing made me admire her even more. It has made me realize that I am capable of more. I am writing this story to shed some light on my experience as well as a form of expression. My writing is not the best, please follow along if you're able to.
In the summer of 2021, my mother-in-law (MIL) passed. She passed at the young age of 74. She had multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the plasma cells. She was diagnosed at 69 years old.
At the time of her diagnosis, she was in so much pain that it hurt to even look at her. I remember very well that she started to feel the pain around Chinese New Year. She delayed going to the doctor. Because she did not want to go to the doctor during the new year. She finally made it to the doctor about 2 weeks after Chinese New Year in 2014. She knew there was something majorly wrong with her.
After lab test, she was told to go to the emergency room to get a blood transfusion. I remember reading the labs and her red blood count was at 64 (please note I am not a medical doctor). At the emergency department, she received 2 units of blood that evening. Our family was not happy that mom needed to be in the hospital that night.
The very next day, we went back to the hospital and went to the oncology clinic at the local hospital. We saw her oncologist within the hour. The oncologist knew exactly what to do and which procedure to follow. At this time, mom did not want any help because her pain was unbearable. She asked the doctor to give her a needle for her to pass. I was in tears listening to her speak these words. Her oncologist told her to trust him and she can live for many years with multiple myeloma. At that moment we pleaded with her to accept treatment. Finally, she agreed. The same day, we saw multiple health care professionals explaining every little detail to us. It must have been a 6 hour day at the hospital for the family. At this time, there were no Covid restrictions. I remember very every detail very vividly because I was doing In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant at the same time. I was very concerned with the chemotherapy medications she was on that may cause infertility.
That evening we went home and there was a lot of information to read and explain to the family. It was a very low point in our families' lives. My father-in-law has just realized his wife of 50 years had cancer. He was devastated and shocked by the news. As a family, we took action right away. Filled all the medications, and the following day started her first round of chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy was a Wednesday normal weekly occurrence. I would be very involved with her treatment and took her to all appointments at the beginning. Soon later my sister-in-law was able to take the time off and she was appointed the main person responsible to take care of mom's appointments.
In the summer of 2017, my MIL had the opportunity to do a stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant replaces destroyed bone marrow with new marrow. This was a very complicated procedure where she needed to stay in the hospital for weeks to undergo. After the stem cell transplant, she bounced right back. I did mention her experience in, another blog called My Experience with Cancer and Nutrition (blendachan.ca).
My MIL was like a brand new woman. She was walking laps at the park, going out to see her friends, and helping watch my child while I went to work. She even help watch my second child when he was born. She was doing it all. Her treatment was working and our family was very pleased with her progress. Her doctor said she would have about 10 years of life expectancy. Soon a few years later, in January of 2021, she went downhill a bit. She ate less and she started to lose weight.
As a family, we knew something was wrong. She didn't want to eat or drink. She stopped walking her laps at the park, stopped seeing her friends and even my kids didn't make her happy. She was hospitalized in May 2021 for 2 weeks due to renal failure. She was not allowed to have visitors due to Covid restrictions. Her multiple myeloma had relapsed. Her doctor had pushed her to get dialysis but she no longer wanted treatment at this point. She knew that doing dialysis three days a week and chemotherapy 1 day a week would not give her any quality of life. We kept her comfortable at home. We gave her food and drinks upon acceptance. In June 2021, my MIL passed.
On this day, I am filled with emotions and even tearing up when I am writing this story. My MIL was a wise and wonderful woman. She has taught me a lot over the years, and I am very grateful to have known her. I am sure this Chinese New Year she will be missed dearly by my husband, father-in-law, and the entire family. Every day my husband will light incense to celebrate her life.
Here are some ways to celebrate life every day:
1. Focus on all the good in your life.
2. Let go of the past and appreciate what you have now.
3. Be grateful for every moment.
4. Celebrate the joys.
5. Show gratitude.
"Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened." - Dr. Seuss
My name is Blenda. I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist™ and Certified Nutrition Manager. Please leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions.
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The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Blenda Chan. Please note that Blenda Chan is not a dietitian, physician, pharmacist or other licensed healthcare professional. The information in this article is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health care professional. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. Always consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider for all diagnosis and treatment of any diseases or conditions, for medications or medical advice as well as before changing your health care routine.