Monday, June 7, 2010

Why It Matters

Fred is 78 years old. He is with his son who has survived Parkinson's Disease, testicular cancer and now transplant. On day 80 of transplant, the marrow shows cancer again. Fred sat with his cane and cried. "I've been with him a year," he said. "But my son won't let me forget that I missed five days. My hernia blew out and I had to have surgery. He just won't let me forget those five days," Fred said with a smile. "They told us not to leave while he is having chemo but we took Saturday off and I took him to the lake shore. You have to break the rules once in a while."

Today, I saw a woman I recognized from the Finding Meaning Through Cancer workshop I attended in April. She walked in the SCCA front door standing tall with her cane more companion than crutch, thick hair stubble and lipstick. She had a port in her skull to allow chemo injections into the spinal fluid without the need of lumbar puncture. With her fuzz the port became almost invisible like grass grown over it. "You look great," I said in greeting. Her face looked so vibrant. "Well, my remission was short lived," she explained. "Cancer is back. I'm going to Hawaii with my kids next week if I can get on the plane. Then we'll return and get on with another protocol." I started crying for her and me. I held onto her arm in the lobby of SCCA and she was crying now too. "Thank you," she said and hugged me.

I got to the shuttle full blown weeping. The driver had to help me up the steps of the bus into my seat. "Is anyone with you," asked another passenger. "My care provider is at the Pete Gross House. That's where I'm going," I explained. "I'll be o.k." "There is a social worker you can talk with," he mentioned. "I know." What got me today is that all the work, all the effort, all the "we can cope" and "we can get through this," may just not be good enough. I came into the apartment crying. Kathy came in and sat with me. Waiting until I could speak. I told her the people I had seen and the stories I had heard. It felt as if I emotionally down-shifted to another gear today to handle rougher grade. "I'm not going to let cancer kill me," I reported. "Drowning seems more fitting." Kathy got quiet. "I'm not talking suicide and I'm not a danger to myself nor others but after all of this, I can not let this disease take me.

Bianca and her mom have been in Seattle for 170 days. The mother's cancer came back following transplant. The doctors administered more chemo which took her blood counts so low that she is submitting to blood transfusions almost daily to keep her functioning. "Pray for me," she says with tears in her eyes.

We are talking serious here. Kathy LeClair dubs the place a Chamber of Horrors. I call it a glimpse of the valley of the shadow of death.

I believe our lives depend upon your prayers.

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