RE:Union - A story of cancer in the family
The 21st of September 2008, my mom was diagnosed with cancer.
That day, a great (ongoing) struggle began primarily for my mother, but also for our entire family.
She endured several large operations and was later moved to a recovery unit where her condition turned for the worse within a week. She was moved to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).
She had severe pains and post-operative complications which made the staff opt for heavy sedation, which put her to sleep. As the hours became days, and the days became weeks, our entire family was at her side, every single day.... waiting. She didn't open her eyes, she didn't move and she didn't react. Struggling with ourselfs, wanting to talk with our mother, we sat there, without knowing about the outcome.
Good news! Bad news. Repeat.
Finally, the day came when my brother took my moms hand and asked:
- "Would you squeeze my hand, mom?"
... and there it was! A gentle, faint squeeze, to which my brother replied.
- "Can you hear me? Erik, come hold moms hand!"
I looked at him, then looked at my mom with a puzzled look on my face.
I took her hand, and felt the same.
The very next day we returned to the hospital, happy and excited about the progress the previous day, not knowing what we would face when we got there.
We walked eagerly through the halls of the hospital, making our way to her room where we were greeted by a nurse before opening the door.
There she was! Sitting up in her bed, smiling and fiercly looking at us, not letting her eyes off of us. As though she wanted to look at her children forever - for as much as she could, for the rest of her life.
She could not yet speak or move properly. Her muscles had since long withered. Her breathing was done by a machine. But that didn't matter for any of us. We had contact!
For the next following weeks, she endured agonizing pain, recovering from the trauma of surgery.
In march of 2009, she was released from the hospital, back to her life, albeit different. Because you see, my brother and his wife is making our mom a grandparent!
The staff at the ICU is truly remarkable.
They always knew exactly what my mom was facing, and for every second, minute and hour of the day, for weeks on end, they were at her side, comforting her in any way they could, be it by medicine, or by a gentle hand on her forehead with soft, re-assuring words in her ears.
Little did they know, that our mother would return to the ICU, this time bringing gifts and gratitude towards the men and women working at SU Östra Sjukhuset in Gothenburg.
The hand to the left is my mother, and the hand to the right is from one of the most devoted nurses I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
This is my tribute to the staff at Intensivvårds-avdelningen (IV, ICU) at Östra Sjukhuset, Gothenburg.