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Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

July 26, 2013 • Sometimes when things are terrible, I try to think about things that are not terrible. Sometimes, that seems impossible to do. Terrible things can be all-consuming—they are monsters that swallow you whole and you get lost inside their cavernous stomachs.

The terrible, all-consuming thing right now is that Tim’s latest full body CAT scan revealed that the cancer has metastasized to his liver and his shoulder. All those treatments, while shrinking the initial tumor somewhat, were not enough to prevent the cancer from spreading. So, there will be no surgery. He has actually been feeling better and has gained a little weight, so finding out the cancer had spread was such a shock. We have gone from praying that he can be rid of the cancer to praying that he will live for at least a few more years. I know that sounds gruesome, but it’s the reality we are facing, and reality is often gruesome.

At least he can still be treated, which is so different from when my dad had colon cancer in the 1970s. After his spread to his liver, they basically sent him home to live out the rest of his short, painful life. The phrase the doctor used, which is burned on my brain, was to “let nature take its course.” I remember being so upset that he wasn’t straightforward about it—to this day, I hate euphemisms for dying.

Anyway, since then, they have made great advances in not only pain management (which is a great help), but in treating the cancer itself—even when it is as advanced as Tim’s. At first they inserted a PICC line for his chemo, but it has been removed and now he has a port. The drugs they are using do not make him as tired—in fact, he seems to have as much energy as he used to before he got cancer. If there is anything positive to say about all of this, it is that we are making the best of the time we have together and that is not so terrible at all.

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Oct 21, 2012 • Hello everyone. This is tough to write about, so I am just going to come out and say it at the outset: Tim has cancer. I want to cry every time I say it, write it, or think it.

Over the course of a few months he lost thirty pounds, but it wasn’t until the pain was so severe that he couldn’t hide it anymore that I even noticed anything. Then it took some effort to convince him to go to the doctor, but he finally relented. Then it took the doctors over a month to diagnose him with rectal cancer, which, they found, had spread to some of the nearby lymph nodes and his pelvic bone. The course of treatment is radiation and chemotherapy and then, after six weeks or so, surgery to remove the tumor in his rectum.

We have to drive two hours each way to get him to his appointments. The radiation treatments don’t take very long, but he needs them five times a week. Every Wednesday, he has a liquid chemotherapy treatment that lasts at least three hours. I have gotten to know the other regulars in the waiting room and have been talking with them and knitting scarves to pass the time while I wait. The scarves have been a hit—the nurses give them out (no matter what the temperature, the patients are often cold) and I have seen people I don’t know being wheeled by wearing a scarf I knitted. I am glad that my time spent waiting for Tim’s treatments can be put to good use.

Of course, all of this has been very tough on the whole family. Allie has just started college. She is getting her G.E. out of the way at the J.C., as well as helping out a lot on the home front. Patrick has one more year before getting his degree in Biology (he is interested in research and is probably going for a Master’s). Martha had a bad fall and dislocated her shoulder, but is on the mend—she is a pretty healthy 88 year old lady.

The bulk of Tim’s treatments happened during the summertime and when the school year kicked in, I was able to take off most of the month of September. Tim is well enough to drive now. He finished the last of his chemo and his next appointment is for another full body CAT scan. If the treatments worked, then surgery is the next step. We are praying for a good outcome.

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