The Great Cancer Adventure

December 29, 2017

- 2 min read

With my hip in a cast, it wasn’t practical for me to travel this Christmas, so we cancelled our holiday. Shortly thereafter, Elizabeth (daughter), Peter (son) & Ramona (granddaughter) were with Betty and me over the Holidays at our home. What a Christmas gift! Only sorry Sam (son-in-law) and Nicole (daughter-in-law) couldn’t be here too. I do have a great life.

In reflecting on the Great Cancer Adventure to date, indeed it’s been a rough road as we were warned it would be. For example, I’ve had every one of the known side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, including (seemingly) diarrhea and constipation at the same time, so I didn’t have a “bug” when beginning treatment as I thought; was hospitalized for impacted bowel, after having serious complication from this a few years earlier; completely lost my appetite, taste for spicy food, and ultimately 35 pounds; got three tattoos, albeit tiny ones, when I never wanted any; stopped going to the gym, even for light exercise, due to fatigue and lack of energy; learned that there really is such a thing as "Chemo Brain”; and dislocated my artificial hip. But I am still here and still determined to see this all the way through, no matter what happens.

Betty tells me she has a form of Chemo Brain, too, from long term stress. Cancer is hard on the caregiver as well as the patient. As good a time as any to remark that, when I worked early in my career for various national volunteer health agencies, which some condescending wag termed ”Body Parts and Diseases”, it was widely held, in general, the men left while the women stayed. There were then and perhaps still are, many notable exceptions, but by and large that’s what happens.

When niece, Andrea, and nephew, Jonathan, were with us, we drove to Paris, TN to see their sister, their nieces, their dad, and little Alice Leech of Levi Road, my mother, their grandmother and Betty’s mother-in-law. She had been hospitalized, but she still had her faculties at the time and, consequently, could recognize when I was telling her the gravity of my illness and that I had come, really, to say goodbye. She paused, while the room cleared for people to wipe away their tears in private, leaving only she and I. She said, looking me directly in the eye, “I’ll be seeing you later on.” I don’t know if she meant in the “sweet bye and bye” or something else. In any event, I’ve seen her a few times since then and have spoken to her on many more occasions over the telephone, but that’s the last time I spoke to her when she wasn’t hanging by a thread.

I realize eventually I’ll have to leave the party “In the Sweet By and By”, but I’m not ready to go just yet.