Michaela left her body at 3:50am Tuesday morning, September 4th. In the last few weeks, she became more and more withdrawn from the world and rarely smiled. Over the past few days, she stopped wanting to see or speak to anyone including her close friends and family. She told me on Friday that nothing was interesting to her anymore; not food, not reading (which she has always loved), not even her family. She stopped eating and slept most of the day. I came to do night duty on Monday night and around 10pm she told me that she felt her body shutting down and she thought this might be the time. I called Peter into the room and for about a half hour she connected with us. We held her hands and told her we loved her and were letting her go. Then she withdrew into herself again, going in and out of consciousness for 6 hours as Peter and I sat with her and did our best to keep her comfortable through the transition. She is finally at peace and free from suffering. For this I am grateful.
As per her request, we are not having a traditional memorial service but will hold a celebration in remembrance of her life. This has not yet been scheduled, but you can fill out this contact form if you would like to be notified.
Michaela was admitted to the hospice home care program this week. Since coming home from the hospital, she has steadily lost weight and energy. This is despite Saskia’s full time care and best efforts to feed her nutritious and digestible food. She has decided to focus her attention on being comfortable rather than trying to get better.
Michaela came home from the hospital on Friday afternoon. She is very grateful to be at home and it is so good to see her back on her usual spot on the couch rather than in a hospital bed.
Michaela had surgery on Tuesday night. She came through just fine, though the results are not what we hoped for. The tumor has spread a lot and there wasn’t much usable bowel left.
The day after the surgery was hard for Michaela. She felt nausea & terrible heartburn and the medication to help with that made her very groggy and barely able to communicate.
This morning with the nausea and heartburn subsiding, she needed less meds and seemed more like her usual self. We even went for a walk through the hall, though we only made it two laps rather than her usual seven.
Right now we are waiting for her to recover from the surgery to see if her bowels start working and if she is able to receive nutrition orally. Meanwhile, she is still being fed intravenously to keep up her strength and help her heal. Tomorrow we will see the oncologist to get more information about her options going forward.
We really appreciate all the people who have come forward to offer help. Right now things are changing so rapidly, that we have not been able to create any sort of system to organize the help. We are just taking it one day at a time. Many people keep offering, and that is the best as eventually what we need and what they can do match up. Food is an easy and appreciated way to help, you can call at Mado 828-273-2402 to set it up.
Early this morning we heard that the surgeon at Wake Forest does not think the tumor is operable. We were informed that if any surgeon in the region would take it on, this would be the man, so it looks like we are staying in Asheville. A local surgeon will do a colon bypass so that she can eat again. The surgery has not yet been scheduled, at this point it will probably be next week. When she recovers from that surgery, she will consider whether or not to do chemotherapy. Either way, a miracle is our best bet right now so please intensify your prayers, meditation, and energy healing.
This is my first update in 10 months. For most of those 10 months Michaela’s health improved steadily and we all started to hope that future updates would be unnecessary.
In the middle of April she started having intestinal issues that were annoying but not initially alarming. In the beginning of June, she started feeling nauseous and having a difficult time eating. We were not sure initially that the two problems were related. However, as the nausea & vomiting worsened and Michaela lost an alarming amount of weight we started to worry.
Our first trip to the ER ended with being sent back home after being hydrated intravenously and blood tests came back negative. As Michaela’s condition continued to worsen, we went back to the ER just 3 days later. At that time, they finally scanned her body and discovered an obstruction in her bowel. They started to pump the bile out of her stomach through an NG tube, hydrated her with IV fluids, and finally started feeding her through a picc line. These efforts to stabilize her condition were successful and resulted in her gaining her strength back and with it her spirit.
At first their best guess was that the scar tissue from last year’s surgery was causing the obstruction and surgery was recommended. However, we had a difficult time finding a surgeon willing to take it on due to the complexity of the situation. When we finally found one to willing to perform the surgery, we were dealt another blow. Further imaging and a biopsy revealed a tumor of the same kind she had last year. The tumor is in a very tricky location with nerves involved and our doctors are recommending transfer to a teaching hospital. Today, we are waiting on word from Wake Forest to see if they are willing to take her case.
I will start using this website to post updates again in order to efficiently update all the wonderful people who are praying, loving, and supporting her.
It’s been a while since I wrote an update and I keep wishing I had more definitive news to share. Recovery is a bumpy, windy, lengthy road. Michaela is definitely healing well from the surgery, but challenges keep cropping up.
Michaela has been struggling with insomnia since the surgery. She says it has given her a lot of compassion for people who deal with it chronically. Even sleeping pills have not seemed to help. Some nights she sleeps fine, other nights no more than 15 minutes at a time.
Eating has also proven unpredictable. Some days Michaela is hungry and feels capable of eating most things, other days it seems like nothing will stay down. About a week ago, she went through a couple of days where she couldn’t keep anything down and since her temperature was elevated, her doctor prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics have always made her nauseous, so this exacerbated the situation. She needs to eat when she takes antibiotics, but they make her feel queasy so there is very little she can stomach. She has become very skinny and we are doing everything we can to keep her well nourished.
Fortunately, this round of antibiotics are over, so for now her appetite is better, though still not what we would like to see. Digestive enzymes are helping her process what she does eat. Several people have asked us to reinstate the meal train, but due to the unpredictable nature of what she can eat, she prefers not to waste people’s time or food.
We still have very little information from her doctors. The pathology report was inconclusive, meaning that we simply need to wait and monitor to see if the cancer comes back. Her surgeon was supposed to take her case before a panel of experts, but has not had time to do so yet. I will try to update this site a little more frequently for those of you who are paying attention and wishing her well. Every other week is my goal.
Through it all, Michaela’s attitude is still very positive and her life force is strong. She is deeply appreciative of all the love and good wishes people are sending her way, please keep it up.
Michaela has been home for about a week now. She had her stitches removed Thursday and Dr Simpkins is pleased with how she is healing. He went over the results of her pathology report and the margins of the tumor were good in all but one area. There was a place where he could not go any deeper and the margins are unclear. This means that we don’t really know if he got everything or not at this point. He will now take her case before a tumor board (a panel of cancer experts) and get their recommendations. We should find out what they say in about 3 weeks.
In the meanwhile, Michaela’s outlook is positive and she is regaining strength every day. The meals that are being brought to the house are making a difficult time MUCH easier for Michaela and Peter. Michalea’s body is still sensitive to rich foods, spices, and dairy. Cooked vegetables and some poultry or fish without heavy spices are best. She is looking forward to a time when she can eat a greater variety of foods again, but is grateful to be able to eat anything at all.
I am gearing up for the fundraiser on September 3rd. This sweet event will take place at Sunswept Farm Conservancy, a magical cove tucked into the Western end of Madison County near Max Patch. It’s about an hour’s drive from Asheville and people are encouraged to carpool. Email gayle at yogaatyourplace.net (remove at and insert @) if you are interested in giving or receiving a ride.
There will be yoga classes all day long, kids activities, music, food, massages, and a silent auction. Please spread the word to anyone who you think might be interested.
We still need more massage therapists and other volunteers! Email ann at phoenixlanding.org to offer massages or other healing modalities or mganser1 at hotmail.com to volunteer in another capacity (remove at and insert @).
People have been asking how to contribute if they cannot attend the fundraiser. Donations for the silent auction are one way, contact ann at phoenixlanding.org to make arrangements. If you’d prefer to donate money, we now have several options:
- Mail a check. Email donate at michaela francoise.net and I will send you the address.
- Deposit money into Asheville Savings Bank account #023435284
- Use the link the the right or bottom of the page to donate via paypal.
If you are willing to be acknowledged for your donation, please email your name and address to donate at michaela francoise.net so that Michaela can send you a thank you card.
Deep gratitude for all your love and support.
Michaela was released from the Hospital on Friday. She had a rough transition as the pain medication prescribed made her nauseous. Unable to eat or drink, she became dizzy and that cycle made her first day home challenging. Fortunately, she stopped taking the pain med so her nausea is down to a bearable amount and her appetite is returning.
While sleep is still not coming easily, being home is definitely more conducive to rest than being poked and prodded every few hours. Michaela reports being able to sleep much better in her own bed and it appears that the over-the-counter pain + sleep meds are sufficient to help her rest.
The meals are continuing to arrive each evening along. With the reality of recovery setting in, these serve as welcome reminder of the love and support of her community.
Yesterday, Michaela’s close friend Sandira came to visit in the morning. Sandira grew up in Australia and taught Michaela the aussie slang for passing gas: “fluffing”. Michaela instantly became enamored of this new term and is teaching it to everyone who comes to see her (including all the nurses and CNA’s).
Fluffing is the first major step in getting her home. Since her guts were involved with the surgery, fluffing is a sign that they are returning to normal. And the good news is that there was a fluff today! This means she was finally able to drink and barring any major problems, she will be coming home on Friday!!!
The messages of love and support continue to pour in and we are all in great spirits and tremendously grateful.
Hooray for fluffing!