So here we are, going into week 10 of chemo. How has it been going? Thankfully, not too bad. Life goes on. Bills get paid, groceries get bought and errands get done. Yet there is something different. Sometimes you just can’t put your finger on it but you feel it deep in your soul, way down in your heart. It’s a feeling that this sadness will never go away.
In the last piece that I wrote, I mentioned we had been to the Cancer Wellness Centre. We have not been back. My husband (who has lung cancer) doesn’t want to go. I am not sure why. Is it because he just doesn’t want to get involved with other people who have cancer? Or is it because he is just too tired? Maybe both.
Cancer treatments have come a long way, or so I am told. I am not so sure this is true. I see a tremendous difference in my husband’s energy level and in his strength. It used to be me that was always trying to catch up to him, but not anymore. And now, the weeks have gone by and we are going into week 10 on Tuesday. The difference from week to week becomes more real. There is the fatigue, the lack of appetite, the loss of hair and this deep sadness that strangles you at times.
He is given two chemo drugs every week, cisplatin (Platinol) and vinorelbine (Navelbine). On top of that, he is on a blood thinner, three kinds of anti-nausea drugs and now has to inject himself with a drug that helps produce white blood cells. Who knew that the drugs to keep the nasty nausea at bay had such horrific side effects or that they were originally used to treat psychosis. The more you read the more you know, as they say, and the more I read about this horrible disease and its treatment, the more stunned I am at how toxic it all is.
We had a most horrific moment two weeks ago when my husband woke up from a nap and his arm was blue. He immediately drove himself to the hospital and went straight to oncology. They told him he had to go to emergency because he might have a blood clot. When my husband arrived at emergency, they told him to take a number and wait. He decided that this was not an option and went back to the oncology ward. They then called down to emergency and told them that he had to be seen right away! That worked. What kind of people would let a man with a blue arm and who has cancer wait around to see if he would have a stroke or not? So they took him through emergency, admitted him, got him a room and administered blood thinners for 48 hours. The blue arm incident has so far been the most devastating and horrible thing that has happened to him while undergoing treatment. Thankfully he did not suffer any other complications from it.
We are now going into the last half of the game; a game that, frankly, I do not want to play anymore. This is life and death. It is so difficult and so sad to watch someone in pain. Words are difficult to find. I say “Are you okay?” to my husband a lot. I hope that if he wasn’t okay he would tell me. But I find he keeps a lot of things to himself. That’s okay too, whatever you need to do to fight this horrific disease. But it’s lonely, I feel cut off from him, as though he’s already gone. Silly, isn’t it? But I feel like I did when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease – little pieces of her would slowly disappear. Cancer, it seems, does the same thing to a person.
I don’t want pity. Nor does my husband; he would be the last one to want anyone to feel sorry for him. His cancer is a personal battle that he has to fight every day. I cannot pretend to know what it feels like to be the one to be sick. I can only tell you how I feel about living with someone who has cancer. It robs you of your spirit some days, and tears will often well up and crazy thoughts will pass through your brain. But the love you have for that person just gets bigger and stronger and you watch as they fight every day to stay calm, to be happy, to try and be normal. While the world goes on outside the space we keep, the bond of husband and wife, through sickness and in health, resonates in my mind. And though children and friends are there, they do not know and could never know the deepest pain that sneaks up on you at the most inopportune times and squeezes every last ounce of joy from you.
Who knew this was going to be how we would spend our ‘golden years’. I am grateful for the love of my husband and our children and pray that once ’16’ is done we can put all of this behind us and move on to more joyful and happy days!
Photo courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved