A Difficult Week: An Update from Pasadena

by Lian on October 14, 2012

Chaos Crew,

I wanted to let you know what was happening here. As you know, it’s been a long year in terms of caring for my 85- year- old parents. My father is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s and needs 24 hour care and my mother has been worn down physically and emotionally by her role as caregiver.  They have been living in Southern California, my father in a care facility and my mother in an apartment in Santa Monica. But recently, it’s become obvious that my mother can no longer live independently. My sister Julie in Dallas offered her home for my mother with its close proximity to an excellent nursing home for my dad. It was a good solution, even though moving them to another state was not going to be easy.

Last Sunday, my dad got on the plane to Dallas and successfully transitioned to his new facility after an emotional good-bye here in Southern Cal. At the same time as my dad was headed to LAX with my brother, my sister Liz was headed to the ER with my mother. My mother was having trouble breathing. For several months, she was being treated for a pulled muscle in her back, an infection, and a possible a rotator cuff injury. She’s been in pain and exhausted, the stress of my father’s situation visible on her face.  She was immediately admitted to the ER and after two hours of x-rays and blood tests, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

The diagnosis of lung cancer was shocking and the timing was stunning. Prior to the last few months, my mother was a strong, robust woman who hadn’t had a cigarette in 40 years.  But the tumors certainly explained the pain and the flu-like symptoms. Like many patients and their families who hear the word “cancer,” there were a lot of decisions to make in a short period of time. As last week progressed, the diagnosis was confirmed and the gravity of her condition sunk in. She is stage IV and her cancer is not curable. We are working with her doctors to keep her pain-free and abide by her wishes for palliative care.  Our goal over the next few weeks is to get her medically stable to fly so that she can go to Dallas to be with my father.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers. Your kind words have been a source of comfort in the past.

Embrace your Chaos, Lian


Please note, due to this medical emergency, my talk for the Arizona Author’s Series has been cancelled. I apologize for the inconvenience. There is a full refund available. Please see this website for details.



Lauren October 17, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Hi Lian! I know you’ve had many, many well wishes, but I also wanted to let you know that you and your entire family are in my prayers. I appreciate the bravery and honesty you’ve shown by sharing such painful things with us all. Cancer is a nasty, nasty thing, and I’m always sad to hear another person has it and that another family had to deal with it :(

Karen Hall October 17, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Lian and the Dolan family,
Following your family’s 2012 feels like a replay of my 2010. As nothing is so shocking to have not one parent’s needs trump another’s in a short timeframe. Being on the “other side” of these medical urgencies, in a couple years time you all will look back and ask “how did I do that?”

You and your sisters give so much out into the world and I appreciate every sanity check, safety line, and great belly laugh you’ve given. With all you give out to the world, let us give back to you and let us know what we can do for you and yours.

With hopes and wishes that both your parents journies be as painless (mentally or physically) as possible. Our family reaches out and lends our mental and spiritual strenth to everyone in your clan.

Ma Schmidt October 16, 2012 at 6:35 PM


Wendy October 16, 2012 at 4:04 PM

My thoughts are with you. I can only imagine how difficult this is for you and your family. Nothing ever really prepares us for these trying times but your parents are so fortunate to have the love and support of the family they raised.

All the best,

Janeen October 16, 2012 at 1:48 PM

My heart goes out to you and your family. Please know you are all in my prayers. Bless you all. Janeen

Tammy October 16, 2012 at 7:26 AM

Lian and Family;

I am so sorry to hear the news about your Mom. Early last week I was having a tough day. I went to Sat. Sister archived and just randomly chose a podcast to listen to as I have done so many times in the past years as I have gone through my paninni generation challenges. You have been there for me every sleepless night; through every chemo visit; through every occupational therapy visit……. I SSOO wish I had something to offer you all that compared in any way to what you have given me.

What I have are my thoughts for your family as you move through this. You will remain there. My only advice, and I know that I am speaking to the choir, find your source of joy and laughter. Keep your family close and know that there are so many of us out here sending energy to you and your family.

Much respect….


Sue October 16, 2012 at 4:25 AM

Lian, I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. I am sending positive thoughts and wish you and your family the best during this difficult time. Sue B.H. From Fairfield

reba October 16, 2012 at 4:11 AM

I continue to pray for you and your family.

CLSD OPEN October 15, 2012 at 8:24 PM

I’m so sorry, Lian – for your mom, your dad, you, and all your siblings. My mom had lung cancer, and my mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s, but we didn’t have to deal simultaneously with the MANY challenges of each disease. I’m heartbroken for your family, and want you to know that you’re all in our thoughts and prayers. I’m generally not a religious person, but at times like this, I feel like my prayers are heard and you’re definitely in mine.

When you and Ma Schmidt have the 2012 calendar burning party, count me in. This has been my worst. year. ever. Hoping 2013 brings peace to all the Chaos Crew and the Satellite Sisterhood.

Hang in there and be kind to yourself. Know that we are all pulling for your family. xo, Chris

Kate October 15, 2012 at 6:36 PM

So sorry Lian. Same situation with my mom a few years ago. Prayers to you and your whole family. Kate

angi October 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I am so very sorry to hear about your mom. She and your dad must both be really outstanding people, since they raised such outstanding daughters (and presumably sons :) ).

petreaburchard October 15, 2012 at 7:47 AM

Lian, you’ve built a powerful community and it surrounds you with love and support, even as you and your family do the same for your parents. My thoughts are with you.

Natalie October 15, 2012 at 6:42 AM


Such sad news! Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so behind on listening to your podcasts, as my life has been very chaotic in the past month. I will pray that Edna gets well enough to fly to Dallas and be with your father there. Take care of yourself, Natalie

William J. October 15, 2012 at 6:12 AM

My love, support, heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you and your family.

This really is to much for one family to deal with. Peace to all the Dolans. When you think about all your mom was dealing with and she was doing it all when ill, that is one damn strong woman. A special prayer for her.


chris d. October 15, 2012 at 5:51 AM

My love and concern are with all of you. This is a devastating shock.
I wish for your mom to rally, to be pain free and to have some satisfying time with her beloved husband and family.
The support will hold you up when you do not know its there…go on Faith in the love around you..
Take care of you in all the ways you are able ..we are behind you and all the Dolan family..always,

Susan in Iowa October 15, 2012 at 4:51 AM

Dear Lian
Such sad – heartbreaking news, to say the least. My thoughts and prayers are with you and with all of your family members. I’m so sorry. God bless.

Kathy in Atlanta October 15, 2012 at 4:17 AM

Lian, your voice and your writing has been part of the rhythm of the day-to-day lives of so many of us. And you’ve been there for us during excruciating times, too. We want to be there for you and your family. Sending love from across the country.

Ted Lockery October 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Lighting a candle here in Seattle for Aunt Edna. Keeping the whole Dolan family in our hearts and meditations.

Teddy, Katherine, Caelen, and Johanna (one week old).

nada jones October 14, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Praying for you and your whole family Lian. May you be surrounded by a peace that passes all understanding.


Lian October 14, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Many thanks. I’m reading every comment and post and it does make me feel better. Thanks for all the prayers. We’ll take them. And, Ma Schmidt, please burn a 2012 calendar for me.


Linda October 14, 2012 at 1:24 PM

I too was comforted by Satellite Sister humor a few years back as we dealt with my mother’s lung cancer. Also stage IV. This is truly the sucker punch your family didn’t need. Best thoughts your way as you navigate through this hard time.

Jan Emamian October 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM


I am deeply saddened to hear this news. When it rains, it pours, doesn’t it? It is enough to have one ailing parent but when both are ailing at the same time it is exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally. Thank God you and your sisters have each other for support in dealing with the difficult decisions ahead. We are just across the Rose Bowl and would be more than happy to help with anything you and your family may need in the weeks ahead. Sending lots of hugs and positive thoughts to you, your sisters and the rest of your family. Love, Jan

Mari (Bookworm with a View) October 14, 2012 at 12:09 PM

My heart skipped a beat reading your post. Words can not begin to express my emotions, thoughts, etc for your entire family. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom and the cancer diagnosis. I’m sending hugs and prayers to everyone – this is indeed a difficult time.

Take time to breathe, hug your family, be with them. It’s the greatest gift. Remember the story you shared about your Dad? He gave you a gift to keep forever, getting to say goodbye. A beautiful memory.

Hugs, Mari

stacey foor October 14, 2012 at 11:46 AM

From one sister to another…i am praying for your family. Your humor and authenticity about your day to day life has more than once given me hope in my own life. Praying that soon there will be sunshine in your life again.

Ma Schmidt October 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM

An audible “Oh my God” and head fall back on my part — a group of friends of mine have had such a shitty year that in December we are having a “2012 Calendar burning” party. I will be burning the Calendars and thinking of the Dolan’s, too – I’m holding you all in the light….cannot imagine what you are going through.

meg symes October 14, 2012 at 11:06 AM

lian, i’m so sorry about all that you are going thru with your parents…. you and sheila were greatly missed at ladies night out and everyone there sends you and your family prayers… hang in there.
xo meg

Jennifer October 14, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Oh my! What an ordeal for you and your sisters to go through. Prayers coming from Kentucky! Keep us updated as you can!

Marge October 14, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Lian, so sorry to hear the news about your mom! After listening to you and your sisters for years, I feel like I know the whole family. It was like a punch in the stomach to read of your mom’s diagnosis. You and your family will be in my prayers.

Judy October 14, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Lian, though I have never met any of you, I feel a connection that is very hard to explain. As we all move through the stages of our lives and that of our families we learn that together we can get through anything. I pray for you and your family in the days, weeks and months ahead. Judy Ring

Beth October 14, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Lian – I am a long time listener of your podcasts. I am so sorry to hear about what your family is going through. But as you go through this difficult time I am confident that sharing your story with others is making a big impact. I am convenienced that many people go through this difficult journey alone but thanks to you and your sisters others don’t have to feel so alone. Take Care.

gilles October 14, 2012 at 8:57 AM

So sorry to hear about your mother. You all are in my thoughts.

Kitty Schane October 14, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Everyone has hard times in their families and we all understand how difficult they can be. But it’s hard to understand why some go through multiple illnesses and so many setbacks at what seems like one thing after another in such a short time, more than others! They are the hardest, but I believe it makes us the strongest to help us through it. I have said it before the Dolan family sure is being tested at this time. Prayers to you and your family for the strength you need at this very difficult time.

SueinNJ October 14, 2012 at 8:44 AM

I am stunned and saddened by your news. Will be thing of and praying for your family.

Jan October 14, 2012 at 8:43 AM

So sorry to hear this shocking news. You and your family feel like part of my family….and my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Dee October 14, 2012 at 8:31 AM

(((hugs))) positive thoughts to you and your family

Jennifer G October 14, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Lian, I don’t pray often but I did this morning so I could offer prayers for you, your parents, and the rest of your family. Please know that we are thinking of you.


Lian October 14, 2012 at 8:14 AM

Thank you so much. Very meaningful to me. Lian

Gwen Piña October 14, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Oh Lian,
I’m just leaving for church this morning and will be asking God to be with you and your family at this difficult time.
Several years ago , when my Mother was failing , listening to the sisters really helped me through. Hope this message can be of support to you.
Gwen Piña
Littleton, Colorado

t3zoo October 14, 2012 at 7:32 AM

I am so sorry to hear this terrible news. I will be thinking of all you. xoxo

Niki October 14, 2012 at 7:14 AM

I’ve been a fan of yours for years, and I’ve never reached out until now. My heart is breaking for you, and I’m so sorry to hear this devastating news. I’ll be thinking of you and your family, and I know all of the Chaos Crew will be, too.
(((HUGS))) from La Canada,

Kristin October 14, 2012 at 7:04 AM

OMG…… Lian, please know that I am sending you all the T and P I can. Serious issues in the panini generation you are in. Your parents are blessed with the support of all of their children, know you are supported personally and virtually from across the world. Much love, Kristin

Annie G October 14, 2012 at 7:03 AM

Lian – What an awful turn of events. I am so sorry to hear this news, and it must come as a terrible shock, especially given that you had just figured out a workable solution for your parents with Julie. I pray for peace for all of you. Hang in there – you have an awful lot of support out here from your Chaos sisters. Much love to you.

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