Colleen's Journey

Reality Check

The last 32 days since we returned from Hawaii may have been some of the most excruciatingly painful, yet blissfully joyous days (in the most twisted of ways) possible. Time has moved at a snails pace, but also at a lightening speed. Mom rallied in the most incredible upswing the past two weeks. We went shopping, we made lists, we made plans, we drank wine!! Aaron Brothers, Target, Ikea, and LGO had nothing on us. It was perfect. It was refreshing. She was our Mom. Vibrant. Happy. Positive. Brave.

Saturday was a great day. Mom was able to spend 6 much needed hours with my sisters and her siblings. However, as nature has reminded us time and time again: with the good, comes the bad. Michelle spent the night on Saturday so I could get some sleep. Around 3am I heard excessive coughing and some struggling from the room down the hall. I ran into the room only to see Michelle look at me with that wide-eyed panicked look. Instantly, I knew that things were not ok. Mom began to feel overwhelmed by the sensation of being “air hungry.” Feeling claustrophobic, she started ripping off the sheets, her oxygen tube, her sweater…basically anything that was touching her. It was the definition of panic; for her and for us. Needless to say, this event was proceeded by hours of restlessness. Yesterday morning was no better. I woke my mom at 5:20am for an early morning dose of Ativan and Dilaudid before I took off to meet with my 6am clients. As she swallowed the first pill she became overwhelmed by the same incessant air hungry feeling. I immediately fell into panic myself but tried not to stay there for too long. I turned on soothing music, I massaged her back, I did everything I could think of to bring her back to a happy place. I have never been hungry for air. I have never felt like I could do nothing to nourish my body with the most essential of elements.  How scary… How frustrating!!!! The look in my Mom’s eyes in that moment was the one I hoped I’d never have to see. For the first time in a week, my Mom’s condition was real again. At the moment, I wasn’t staring at my Mom, I was staring at ovarian cancer. I was staring at the monster who STOLE my mother. I missed my 6am class with no hesitation. My job at the moment is to be with my mom. To help her fight the devil that she is too weak to fight alone.

This morning was significantly better. Mom’s new pain pump has made a substantial difference in her ability to calm herself when she is anxious, or air hungry. We have placed a fan next to her bed side so she can feel the air on her face. She is experiencing instant relief in moments of panic. In a moment of total calm, I laid side by side with my Mom on her twin sized hospital bed. I held her hand and told her how much I love her and how much I miss her. I told her that I am thankful for every day that she is still here because it is one less day that I will have to live without her.

My sisters and I have attempted to remain as consistent as possible in our general attitude and outlook on this experience. However, it has been difficult to not swing with the pendulum when it is swinging so hard. I apologize if our blogs have seemed blunt…or even a little too raw recently. But, to put it in the most plain as possible words – we are sad. We miss our Mom. We miss the woman who lives life on a whim…who is full of life, energy, and compassion. I am PROUD to be my mother’s daughter. But, I am ANGRY at the guiding force that chose my Mom’s life to take. I have tried to stay as positive as possible throughout this experience by understanding that while we may not be happy about how her life is ending, we are grateful that she seized every opportunity to maximize the amount of life that she was given.


– B


  • Alexis


  • jackie

    oh billie, such sad news. you write with great poignancy. i lived with your family before you were.born and everyone mafe me feel so welcome. your mum was lots of fun, warm, generous and real! my heart goes out to all of you, xxx

  • Jimmy, Imelda, Richard, Rayna, Hart

    I’m so broken, and sad to hear so much pain in your lives. Thank you for being so raw, and allowing us the opportunity to experience this tough fight with you. You have every right to be so angry. And you have the right to express that as you wish. I know you’ve heard us tell you guys how much we care, and how much we are praying for you. Please know its 100% true. I feel helpless; know we ♥ and care for you, and your mom deeply.

  • Patsy (McKeever) Garcia

    I was so incredibly sad to hear of your mother’s illness. I attended elementary and high school with Colleen and can only remember a beautiful, vibrant and always smiling, young woman. You write with such poignancy and extreme love for your mother. It’s wonderful to hear all the positive things you and your sisters are doing for your mother.

  • Jeane Marie

    Wow…so glad you have had a great two weeks with Colleen. How much fun to have a fresh new crop of memories with her.

    I feel your feelings of anger at the lack of fairness of the situation…not good.

    You and your sisters are the perfect reflection of your mother, strong, compassionate and fearless.

    My thoughts are with you.

    Please give your mom my love.

    Jeane Marie

  • Paola

    I am so blessed and grateful to know you all. Today in downtown Phoenix we “broke ground” on our new UA cancer center…..we put Colleen’s name on a ribbon and tied it to the fence. She is a hero!

  • Kathy Wilson

    Dear Girls, I just wanted to let you know you are still in our thoughts every day. You have every right to feel angry!!! Cancer Sucks, and it takes the people we love from us. Please remember you have touched so many lives, by sharing your love for your Mom though this blog. We have shared your blog with so many, and I hope that it makes a difference in research in OC. Thank you again for letting us share your journey with us, you will continue to be in our prayers. We prayer that you are brought guidence, with decisions for Mom’s care. Be strong and do the best for Mom and yourselfs.

  • Billie Andersson

    Dear Drury girls,
    Your mom meant so much to me. I wish I had been able to spend time with her over the years. Our distance was far, but she was ALWAYS on my mind. She is truly a person to be emulated. Her smile and strong will give inspiration to everyone. You were her world and I can tell from reading on this blog that she was yours. Your children were blessed to have such a caring grandmother and you were given the gift of a rich person. She knew how to live in this world and she will be watching as you continue with your loves. We will all miss her but she will never be forgotten. Her blessings are many and I am glad she was a small part of my life. May her memory be eternal.

  • Laurel

    As I read of your Mother and ovarian cancer, and as a survivor of III-C since 1999, I am greatly saddened. The very goals of Colleen’s dreams are mine as well. I conduct a golf tournament with net proceeds directed to ovarian cancer research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. The UACC broke ground on the UACC-Phoenix building so we won’t need to travel to Tucson for treatment.

    Your continuation of her dream will benefit so many women in the future. Heartfelt condolences to all of you during these difficult days.

  • Suzanne and Bob Allen

    To our dear dear friend Colleen
    A Greek Philosopher once said
    “A greater part of our immortality will be how others remember us”
    If this truly the case, Colleens immortality is ensured
    Love Always
    Bob and Suzanne Allen