Taina Virolainen-Lillqvist 1962--1995
By Tor Lillqvist, her widower

Taina was born in July 1962. As a child she lived in Parikkala in Eastern Finland. After school she worked in 1983 as an au-pair and hotel chambermaid in London. I met her in 1984 in Helsinki, and we started living together after half a year. After working in various jobs in Helsinki she went to school to study to be a children's nurse.

After graduating Taina worked at an orphanage here in Helsinki. (Actually few of the children there were orphans, it was a home for children who had been abandoned by their parents, or who had been taken into custody by the society, and awaited adoption).

Taina fractured her tailbone in the winter 1989-1990 while we were skiing (plain cross-country) in Lapland. Tailbone injuries are very painful, and she had great pain and difficulties sitting for some time after that.

We married in June 1990. In December the same year our son Niklas was born. The tailbone injury made the pregnancy quite painful. In the next years, the pain however disappeared almost completely.

In the winter 1993-1994 she slipped on ice and fell while playing with Niklas, again injuring her back, with serious lower back pain following.

During the spring and summer of 1994 she showed what I now know are clear symptoms of adrenal gland malfunction (too much cortisol and testosterone): swollen face, throat and legs, increased facial hair growth, acne. Taina herself just thought the swollen legs and face were because of eating unhealthy food (too much salt and sugar, etc), and because of the summer heat. She went to see doctors for the back pain, had X-ray exams and CAT scans, had physiotherapy, but it didn't help much.

In October 1994 a thorax X-ray revealed that something was badly wrong in her lungs and she was immediately admitted into hospital. Soon a tumour in the adrenal gland was found. Taina was finally diagnosed with adrenocortical cancer, with extensive metastasis in both lungs. The affected kidney and adrenal gland were of course removed, but treatment with Mitotane and heavy chemotherapy during the winter and spring of 1995 failed to improve the condition in the lungs.

The back pain just kept getting worse. No pain medication helped completely. During her last months she got pain relief drugs pumped through a catheter into the epidural cavity (terminology?) which helped a little, but finding the right drug mixture and dosage to minimise unwanted side effects was very hard.

What the connection between Taina's back injuries and her cancer was, if any, I do not know, neither could her doctors give any good explanation.

Taina finally died on November 6th 1995. I guess it's good to know she doesn't have to suffer any longer. She looked very calm and peaceful when I visited her just after her death.

Our son has so far, apparently typically for children of his age, taken his mother's death very easily. He got used to mom being away in hospital for long times during her last year.

Even if I had known for quite some time that she had no chances of survival, the loss is still very hard for me. Being at home is the most difficult, among all our common memories. Luckily I have our son to cheer me up.

to Tor Lillqvist's Home Page.

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