Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kelly's Story

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Kelly and her
My name is Nellie, but I go by Kelly. I lost my husband, Arthur, on January 27, 2012 after a very long battle with cancer. We were married in 1995 and he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1998.
Arthur bravely battled cancer, off and on, for 14 years, along with the devastating effects of the disease and all the very painful testing and treatment that went with it.
After Arthur was diagnosed with colon cancer, he had major surgery and six months of chemo. His stitches became infected while in the hospital, so they decided to take them out and let him heal without stitches. They taught me how to irrigate the very large incision and pack it with gauze. This was done three times a day after he came home. The cells filled in and the incision healed nicely after about three months.
We were happy and enjoyed life for seven years after that. In 2005, the cancer re-occurred in his lungs. He underwent surgery again, and this time part of his left lung was removed. He received 6 more months of chemo and then it was decided by the Hospital Board that my husband would not receive any more treatment and he was given five years to live. My husband was a Vet, so his surgeries and treatment thus far had been done in a Veterans Hospital.
My husband was such a fighter and so determined, so he decided to seek help elsewhere. He was not going to accept what the doctors at the VA Hospital had told him.
More treatment began with doctor visit after doctor visit, test after test, and at least a half dozen more rounds of chemo over the next 6 years with devastating effects, destroying his body little by little. My husband was determined not to give up. He had a small computer business and worked from home. He never wanted to let his customers down, so time after time, I watched him go see his customers while hooked up to a portable chemo bag.
The time came when he was too sick and weak to go anywhere and Hospice started coming once a week at first. I had no choice but to work all during the time that my brave Arthur was fighting this horrible disease, so a family member would come in to help during this time.
Eventually, the cancer had invaded Arthur’s bones, which caused excruciating pain. I recall setting my alarm and getting up every two hours to give my husband his pain meds, along with so many other drugs. The Hospice nurse gave me a list of meds and the time in which to give them to him. I could not miss any pain meds; otherwise he would have break through pain and then it would be so hard to get the pain under control again. Then the next morning I would get up and go to work with such guilt having to leave him. Of course, a family member was there, but no one could take Loving Care of my husband like I could and did.
When my husband was still lucid, we talked about what would happen to me after he had gone to be with the Lord. It was very important to him that I not be alone. My daughter, by a previous marriage, and two grandkids lived in an apartment not too far away, so she and my grandkids moved in with us; Praise God.
By this time, I had taken a leave of absence from work.
When the pain became unbearable, Arthur could not lie in our bed any longer, so he sat in a recliner that Hospice had brought. He wanted it right beside our bed so he could see my face first thing in the morning. Eventually, a hospital bed was brought in so the Hospice Nurses could take better care of my husband.
Towards the end, the cancer had invaded my husband’s brain, so he started having hallucinations about some of the things that he went through while in Vietnam. He was so weak, but yet so strong during these hallucinations and became uncontrollable; I needed help. Hospice intervened and a Hospice Nurse was with us 24/7. A different nurse would come to our home every 12 hours.
Arthur and I decided together early on that he would stay at home.
When the time came, I crawled in the hospital bed with my husband and held him until he took his last breath here on earth and went home to be with Jesus.
I Praise God every day that my daughter, Shellie, and two grandkids, Isabelle and Darrell were able to move in with me. They have been such a blessing and are still with me. Without going into detail, I have grieved greatly, before my husband passed on, and during these past three years, but with the help and support of my daughter and grandkids, and a very special friend, my ex-sister in law, Bonnie, whom God brought back into my life after 15 years; I have been able to get out of the boat. But most of all, it has been God’s Enormous Love and Awesome Grace that has strengthened me and brought me to the place where I was able to step out and start moving forward one step at a time. There are still times when I feel like getting back in the boat, but when I’m feeling this way, I just think of my Arthur in Paradise with Jesus; Happy, Whole, And Healthy, No More Pain. This brings me great comfort.
Arthur always told me that he did not want me to grieve for him forever and that he wanted me to marry again. God has placed in my heart a Desire to be married again, and although, I will always miss and love my Arthur, I know God has someone for me that he has designed especially for me and he will bring us together in his perfect timing.
This is but a fragment of our journey, and our Lord was with us/me every step of the way. I have shared some of my journey in hopes that I will be able to help some of those still in the boat.
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Psalm 119:76


  1. Thank you Kelly! I could relate to much of what you shared about with hospice care. Our time with cancer was much shorter only 9 months cause it was such a rare form of lung cancer and caught at such late stage. My love was 38 when he passed and I was 37. He too was brave and fought with all he had. I am only days from the year marker. Hearing stories like yours makes such a difference for me in my healing and motivation in this journey. Its like a little bit of the load is carried ...the burden shared. I don't know how else to explain it. I just know it is a gift and I too pray the lord will prepare my heart to be ready for whatever comes next in this journey. My dad is also a Vietnam combat vet. Never did I think I could ever relate to loss/death with my dad without going to war. However today I see it all very differently. We are woman warrior s for Christ each with our own battles. But we have the victory in Him that our brave husbands now have in eternity. Bless you and I pray for rest and kindness as you need it.

  2. From one former caregiver to another that was a awesome post on perseverance, Kelly. Thank you for posting it, Ferree.
    Sharon Vander Waal

  3. So sorry for your loss. I am also a widow, but you went through so much with/for your husband. Mine went in his sleep and was perfectly healthy. Your story brought tears to me, and I want you to know how much I enjoyed you sharing this heartbreaking story. It puts things in perspective for me. Prayers and hugs for you through this journey!


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