The Elizabeth St. Cyr Roberts Story

My mother, Elizabeth St. Cyr Roberts, mother of six, was an exceptionally giving, loving, and spirited person all of her life. At the youthful age of 57, her life took an unexpected turn.

For two years, we sought one specialist after another to determine why her eyesight was failing. Finally, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dr. Boggan, a highly respected neurosurgeon, performed two surgeries to remove a huge mass on the pituitary gland. After three bouts of radiation and four years of fearing the worst, Mom beat the odds and was on the mend. We breathed a deep sigh of relief. However, over time, high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes became challenges that resulted in grand mal seizures, a diabetic coma, multiple hospitalizations, and a trach, (which nearly scared the family to death), that stayed in for six months. Despite it all, none of these things could keep mom down for long.

In October 2004, life, as we knew it, changed. Mom was rushed to the nearest trauma hospital in Sacramento only to be left on a gurney in the hallway for ten hours. Three gunshot wounds trumped Mom's right to immediate care. I was helpless as I phoned the hospital from Colorado begging medical staff to treat my mother.  My brother, infuriated over the lack of treatment, took her home. Two days later, her doctor immediately admitted her to the hospital where a catastrophic massive stroke was confirmed. My mother received the royal treatment for 30 days in the same hospital that initially neglected her. The prognosis, however, was not good, and we were strongly advised to admit her into a nursing home.

In an effort to avoid a nursing home experience that we knew Mom would never survive, for the next six months, family members took shifts taking care of her. I flew back to Sacramento every two weeks; we hired and fired a few caregivers along the way. Exhausted and unable to keep up the twenty four/seven pace in California, the family decided to move Mom to Denver where my husband, Kevin, and I would care for her in our home.

Finding good help to assist Kevin and me would prove to be a near impossible hurdle. During and after our search for in-home supportive care, a bright spot was the very special bond formed between my mother and Kevin. Kevin was mom’s motivator, physical therapist, confidant, and road warrior. He referred to Mom as “ . . . our little, baby girl."

 

After going through seven agencies and nearly 12 caregivers, we hit the jackpot with Maryna.  In addition to Maryna, we were fortunate to have friends and family like Pat, sisters-in-law Anya, and Tina, and Aunts Lillie and Catherine who faithfully flew to Denver on a regular basis to relieve Kevin and me. Maryna faithfully cared for mom for 18 months and Celine was our exceptional caregiver that would help out on weekends and evenings.

Due to the stroke, doctors said that mom would probably never walk again, but for a while, she did. Additionally, her speech and cognitive skills improved dramatically. With her high blood pressure and diabetes under control, mom’s quality of life was good for a while. Unfortunately, severe anemia, contraction of Hepatitis C, and mild dementia from the stroke ended our good streak.

In March 2005, her doctor suggested we start hospice. We vehemently disagreed. Kevin had a better idea - a Hawaiian dream vacation.

After returning from Hawaii, mom enjoyed six months of stable health. Things were good. However, after that six-month hiatus from medical emergencies, she would endure multiple hospitalizations for severe anemia, blood transfusions, urinary tract infections, altered mental status, gastrointestinal problems, and congestive heart failure.  Through it all, we always had goals -  her birthday, family visits, and her mother’s 90th birthday in California – something for mom to look forward to keep her spirit high, especially during difficult times.

 

In August 2007, to our utter disbelief, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.  It was the ultimate betrayal. How in the world does someone who sees a doctor every two weeks, and has been hospitalized as many times as she, have stage IV breast cancer?  With surgery, radiation, and chemo off the list of cure options, Arimidex, a hormonal treatment that helps fight breast cancer, along with prayer, would be our only hope in slowing the cancer down. Four months later, it was clear that Arimidex would not be our miracle cure. We continued to pray.

 

In November 2007, prayers were answered when 60 family members from all over the country arrived to the majestic mountains of Estes Park, Colorado to shower mom with love for the entire weekend. It was an unforgettable mountaintop experience and one of the best times that we ever had together as a family as we gathered for an incredible celebration in honor of her 71st birthday.

Admitted to hospice in February 2008, we took mom back home to California in March, where we were sure she would have a couple months to enjoy warm temperatures, and family and friends. Instead, she had only six days.  On the third day, she asked for her mom.  Two days later, her mom arrived and she gave her the sweetest of smiles. She then closed her eyes for the final time.  Mom transitioned on Sunday, March 16, 2008.

   

The Caregiver’s Guardian, LLC – Consulting Services is a tribute to my mother, the ultimate giver, and now... our Guardian Angel.