Big D
  • Female
  • Joppa, MD
  • United States
Share on Facebook MySpace

Big D's Groups


Big D's Page

Profile Information

In Loving Memory of Nickolas B. Pippen 9/11/1982 - 8/13/2009

Nickolas was my first born and my only son. Nick was twenty-five years old when he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia in May of 2008. Prior to that horrible day, Nickolas had always enjoyed good health. A few month before his diagnosis, he was starting to have some symptoms of what we later found out was severe anemia. He had been to the doctor for a regular physical (which was completely normal with blood work) in January of 2008.

After Nick was diagnosed, we began a whirlwind of hospitalizations, chemotherapy, and finally a bone marrow transplant in August of 2008. Everything happened so fast. Nick was VERY SICK when he was diagnosed. He was already in what they call “blast crisis” which is the final phase of CML. If CML is caught in the early phase, it can sometimes be treated by an oral chemotherapy drug called Gleevac. Nick actually went on the Gleevac after an initial ten day hospital stay. Nick’s white blood cell count was 40X the normal amount!!!! This is very bad and they had to kill off some of these cells with several rounds of “baby” chemo. His blood counts were so low, it is a miracle he did not pass out or have a stroke from all the numbers of WBC in his body. This high number of blood cells causes your blood to be like sludge and can cause you to have a stroke, or stop blood flow to your major body organs.

Nick quickly was referred for a bone marrow transplant. In hindsight, I now question our decision to move forward so fast with the BMT. I tried to get my son to look at other big transplant centers and get a second opinion, but, he did not want to be away from his girlfriend and his Dad and sister. Now I feel like this was the wrong decision. But, there was nothing I could do about it. Nick also asked the doctors if he could not just stay on Gleevac for a while and see what would happen. They told him his return to the chronic phase (the first phase) would not last long and that he should move forward with the BMT process as soon as a match was found. With great trepidation we started the financial and insurance applications and the search for a match began. Unfortuantely, Nick’s only sibling, his sister Sara, was not a match. Therefore, we had to go with what they call a ‘matched unrelated donor’ or MUD for short. Having a MUD is not the best choice because the match is always better with a “related” donor. On the other hand, Nick was blessed to have a match found so quickly. Literally within months of his diagnosis, Nick got the word that a match had been found. We barely had time to process all that was happening to Nick’s body and this horrible diagnosis of blood cancer, i.e. – leukemia, before we were tossed into the ring to fight a foe almost as formidable as the cancer.

Nickolas had his bone marrow transplant on August 27th, 2008. He spent over twenty-five days in the hospital having his body bombarded by chemicals and drugs that kill the body’s marrow system completely (and in doing so hopefully also killing the cancer cells as well.) Then he received the marrow of a stranger into his body. Luckily, the marrow donor had the same blood type, or else Nick’s blood type would have changed. Isn’t that strange? I never realized how upset I would be when I thought about how a part of my son would be forever ablated from his body and in it’s place would be the DNA/genetic material of another human being! Of course, we hoped that this marrow transplant would save Nick’s life. Ultimately, it seems the BMT did it’s job and Nick’s leukemia went into remission after several more battles with cancer cells found in his central nervous system, i.e. in his spinal fluid. Nick had to get chemotherapy into his spinal fluid through lumbar punctures (needle stuck into the back between the vertebrae of his back). In addition, he had to receive cranio-spinal radiation to his head and spine to make sure they got all of the cancer cells in his spinal fluid. That was just one of many horrible experiences that Nick had to endure during this fifteen month journey through hell.

After his BMT, Nick was discharged from the hospital in September of 2008. He had a rough couple months to follow with every complication in the book. He was losing weight and had no energy or stamina. There was so much going on I cannot even bear to repeat it all here. The big thing was that in late November Nick started with a cough. He continued to cough for eight weeks straight! I told the doctors over and over that something was wrong with him. Making a LONG STORY short, that was the start of my son’s lungs beginning to deteriorate. Nick died of severe and progressive respiratory failure. The doctors still could not give us a reason that this happened. Nick became so ill from November through end of February. No one would listen to us when we BEGGED them to pay attention to us. By early March Nick was so sick, he had to be admitted to the hospital again. On admission, they found his oxygen level was so low he had to go on oxygen mask so he could breathe. Before his BMT, Nick’ lungs were perfectly healthy! His breathing tests were above normal. Nick was hospitalized for fifty-eight days from March 9th, 2009 through May 5th, 2009. He was sent home for three weeks. He went home on oxygen with a wheelchair and a handicapped sticker because he could not walk even 20 feet without getting short of breath. His breathing was so irregular when he slept, I knew something was terribly wrong and yet, they sent him home. They didn’t tell us that this was the end. They didn’t tell us there was nothing they could do. They didn’t give Nick the chance to seek other medical care from other doctors who had more experience. They didn’t tell us to get Nick’s affairs in order or set up hospice care. They sent Nick home on steroids and he was getting special treatments to his blood to try and reverse what they thought was graft vs. host lung disease caused by the transplant. Nick was so frail and weak. He couldn’t do anything for himself, let along do anything fun (since he would soon be dead!) Nick continued to deteriorate over the three weeks he was home. It got to the point where his breathing was so compromised that he had trouble eating and breathing at the same time.

On June 5th, 2009 my son went back into the hospital for the last time. Nick spent seventy days in the hospital, the majority of which was spent on a breathing machine. That admission was horrible. Nick suffered so much from his lungs being completely ruined. Nick could not even sit up in bed, he could not eat, he could not use the bathroom or even a bedside commode. ANY activity would cause him to have what we came to call a “breathing fit” where he would feel so air hungry, he would get in a panic and he would need drugs to sedate him and get him calm. I watched him suffer like this for way too long. He went through a VATS procedure and an open lung biopsy, he had chest tubes, he had thoracentesis procedures, he had more CAT scans and bronchoscopy’s, swallow studies. He had to travel in this precarious condition all over the hospital with transport teams who had no care for the fragile state of his condition or his lungs. No one should have to suffer the way my son did. In the end, his father & I had to make the decision to take him of the ventilator and let him die. No parent should have to make this decision. Nick’s wonderful, smart, and intelligent brain was still 100% fine and yet we had to let his brain die because his lungs could no longer sustain life for him. He was leukemia free at the time of his death and that makes it all the worse.

The autopsy of Nick’s lungs showed the SEVERE damage of his lungs. There was nothing normal about what was going on in his lungs and had been going on for a long while! The pathologist told me NOTHING short of a lung transplant could have saved Nick! This only helps me in know that we did the right thing in ending his suffering. Nick had been put in a drug-induced coma for about one week prior to us taking him off the vent. Nick was having so much trouble breathing, he WANTED to be knocked out. It was horrible! Nick passed away quickly after the ventilator was removed. His lungs could not exchange air properly. On August 13th, 2009 I had to watch my son die! Nothing was as it should have been. I look back on that day and I regret how his end came and I am so angry about that. The whole thing was handled so poorly. I HATED EVERY MINUTE OF THIS THEN AND I STILL HATE IT TO THIS DAY. I am so angry about all of this. I have so many images of those hospital days that I cannot get out of my head. There are so many people who just did not care about my son! I fought so hard to save him. I feel like a failure to my son.

Nickolas was a wonderful, loving, intelligent young man. He had so much to offer this world. He was a chemical engineer and he gave of his time to help change things in this world. He volunteered with the Engineers Without Borders group and he had worked on many of their projects. When he graduated from college, he became a professional mentor with EWB. Nickolas had a wonderful girlfriend of four years. They were planning to get married and start a family some time in the near future. Nick was loved by so many. He had many friends from his youth, from school, from college, and from work. Nickolas was my best buddy. I know he loved his Mama. He always promised that he would take care of me when I got “old.” I miss my son with all my heart. The months go by and it makes no difference. My heart is forever shattered into a million pieces that will never be put back together again. I love you Nick. I love you more than a wagon full of puppies. Mom

Big D's Blog

Round here

Posted on August 12, 2010 at 10:30pm 0 Comments

round here he's always on my mind

round here (hey man) i got lots of time

round here we're never sent to bed early and nobody makes us wait

round here we stay up very, very, very, very late.

i can't see nothing, nothing round here (oh)

won't you catch me if i'm falling?

won't you catch me if i'm falling?

won't you catch me cuz i'm falling down on…


Not Fully Myself

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 10:30pm 0 Comments

Ask My Mom How She Is

~Author Unknown

My Mom, she tells a lot of lies,

She never did before

But from now until she dies,

She'll tell a whole lot more.

Ask my Mom how she is

And because…

The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth

Posted on August 1, 2010 at 10:30pm 0 Comments

Moonlight slanting

by Matsuo Basho

Moonlight slanting

through the bamboo grove;…


Still Hurting

Posted on July 24, 2010 at 9:23pm 0 Comments

It has been eleven months since Nick died. I really cannot even believe it still. Last year on July 13th, 2009, Nickolas has been in the hospital for 39 DAYS! Can anyone believe that? I cannot believe it and I freakin' lived it!!!! As I go through this summer, I think about how last summer basically did not even exist! Whole chunks of my life seem to be missing and I have to constantly do a review in my head..."Oh yeah, last summer I wasn't at the studio. I was at the hospital every day." The… Continue

If I Could Go Back

Posted on March 21, 2010 at 12:23am 0 Comments

This is an excerpt from my blog that I wrote about my son. The post was written on March 13, 2009. I have been marking each moment since his death. I cannot believe it has been seven months.

Today marks seven months since Nickolas has left us. Every day I stand in Nick's room and I look at his pictures and I cry. I play his music for him and hug his clothes. The other day I wrote this on Nick's dry erase board:

Nice and neat Nannerpus

Incredible and… Continue

Comment Wall (4 comments)

You need to be a member of LegacyConnect to add comments!

Join LegacyConnect

At 2:29pm on March 15, 2010, Cindy Sadler said…
Hi Diane, Thank You for the kind words. I heart breaks for you also. I feel for your daughter too as I know the pain that My Daughter is going through loseing her Only Sibbling. She has no steps or halfs. I am glad that you are into Music. Music can and does free your mind if only for a min. I'll take it. I now say that I would rather lay in bed with No Arms or Legs and a Feeding tube shoved down My thoat if only My Presious Son Danny could come through the door and look me in the eyes and say "I Love You Mom" I just got home and My daughter will be in from the bus in a few so I am going to go but Please feel free to write to me Anytime. I also started a Facebook page after I found out that Danny's Step Mother )who was driving) has a photo up with Her Birthday Cake in front of her and a Big smile on her face. Danny Dad Dan Sr. is in it to the left. Just search "Joyce Vickless" My Facebook is "Cindy Armstrong Sadler" (((((((((HUG-DIANE)))))))
At 4:12pm on March 3, 2010, Roberto Corona said…
Hi Diane, I hope your hanging in there. I know exactly how you feel and sympathize deeply with you. I posted my experience on my wall "so to speak" so I could reach several inquiring contacts at the same time. I would like your opinion about my experience if possible. To answer your question I do find comfort and a sanctuary of sort in Jasmins Memorial on Legacy. If you checked have checked it out yet, I find it to be the only one common place that exists only to dedicated to Jasmin and her loving memory. It was a great comfort to log in and read all her friends entries and on some days it was the only place for me to go to and freely cry and vent to her. In the JE event it was mentioned about many writings in a book. I am thinking about you and hope you will go in March although we know nothing is guaranteed but, my story I shared openly to inspire others.
Our cost here was 175. and I cant think of a better spent 350. bucks in my whole life. Things are different for me after last Sat's, JE event. My whole outlook on life afterwards has changed. All I have been able to do so far is thank her while looking at her photos around the house and I feel now that she can really hear me. Her smile also looks different to me and again it's all because now I know she is good. I really hope this helps you or at the very least inspires you. I am now trying to be more sensitive to the signs and not trying to rationalize them anymore. In any case we are all fighting a really tough battle with our losses. My heart goes out to you, my prayers and thoughts as well. Anytime you feel I can be of any insight to you please do let me know before last week I was desperate and now I just feel so much better and relaxed. Nickolas is very much with you, be well and may Peace be with you Diane.
At 5:41pm on February 17, 2010, Kathy Mook said…
It wasn't that I took offense. I just didn't want to see the group causing themselves more pain. I don't like a lot of things people say but from the time my infant son died 28yrs ago and today, I've grown a lot spiritually and emotionally and realize that they don't know what to say because they have never been throught this kind of loss. A couple that I hated the most were "God took him for a reason" and "Your young, you can have other children". I believed back then and still believe today that God doesn't go around killing innocent children. I did go through being angry with God because He could have kept it from happening. With my oldest son, Jon's death, I haven't really had too many stupid things said to me. I know this may sound crazy, but I believe the Bible and in John 10:10, Jesus said, "the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy but I come that they may have life and more abundantly. 28yrs ago, I was a shakey Christian and losing a child could have easily driven me away from God but as I grieved for Noah, and am recently grieving for Jon, I know that it was Jesus that carried and is carrying me today. I'm not religious, I have a relationship with Jesus. I'm not trying to preach to you. Just sharing my hope with a fellow traveler. I'm very sorry for your loss too.
At 5:01pm on February 15, 2010, Rory Duran said…
I couldn't agree more with your suggestions of what not to say. My other candidate for most annoying is "I can't imagine what you are going through." As if that helps.

Latest Conversations

Wonda Hurt is now a member of LegacyConnect
Jan 20
Shelva linen is now a member of LegacyConnect
Jan 18
Charles E. Nelson commented on Steve Cain's group Bereaved Spouses
Jan 17
Marsha H commented on Steve Cain's group Bereaved Spouses
Jan 15

Community Guidelines

Please be respectful of others. For more information, read our Community Guidelines.

Follow Legacy

© 2023   Created by   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service