Why does it take a crisis to find out who your friends are?What is it about a crisis that brings some people closer to you while alienating others?

We read and talk about people not knowing what to say, or how to behave, but I think there is more to it than that. Not sure what it is, have not read any studies on the subject. Maybe I should. Or not. There appears to be some opportunism or reverse opportunism in all of this.

A bit of – I have no use for this person any more. They have stopped being fun. Turned into a downer. All they talk about it their chronic condition. Not interested in watching sports any more. Not interested in shopping and all the other things that made you fun to be with. Why is the chronic person so quick tempered and angry all the time? Time for new friends, or more to the point, renewed friendships.

People rising to the occasion, visiting, talking, making their presence felt one way or another. Everyone catering to their strengths. Some just dropping by for a visit, companionship. Others making conversation, others lending you their cottages, or places to while away your time. Whether one takes advantage of the occasion, the offers, is hardly germane. One appreciates the sentiment, the offer, the gesture, the sentiment.

People are constantly telling me they might die any time as well. Avoiding the crisis. Death is hardly ever a pleasant conversation, nor is the specter of imminent death, whether speculated as something that is about to happen tomorrow or in ten years, a very pleasant thought to live with. Yet, here we are. Are people attempting to defuse the subject? Is there a benefit to telling the chronic person that there is competition to dying?

We would surely leads our lives differently if we believed truly that we could die at any minute, negating the doomsday scenario that prevails the chronic person. We live our lives the way we should, planning ahead, looking forward to watching in horror as our children grow up. Waiting patiently for the grand children, the travels, the parties, the friends.

Only a crisis provokes serious concerns about imminent death. The concerns soon evaporate as reality set in. We do not know when we will be lining up at the pearly gates. Even my friend who is dying and is seeing the palliative doctors has really no idea when the day will come. We just know that we have to be prepared for it in a way others don’t.

The crisis that is my condition has subsided somewhat. People have returned to their daily lives. This just a footnote to keep track of. So it should be. It is enough that it has disrupted the lives of one family, let alone a need for it to disrupt those of so many more.

Janet and I had a bunch of question for Dr. Hedley. They cantered primarily around the need to continue the Chemo Sessions if they were no longer effective. What were the repercussions of taking a Chemo Vacation at this point, or at the end of August as he was planning> Taking a vacation now would allow us to enjoy the summer.

We are slowly realizing that a lot of decisions are ours to make. If we want to quit the Chemo Session, than quit it is. We are in charge of our treatments. The doctors are there to guide and advise us. The ultimate decision is ours. This is a bit freaky. We are never sure if we are making the right decisions or not. Do we have the right amount of information to make a decision? Is it the right decision? To make matters worse, the doctors themselves are not sure either.

Every body reacts differently to the drugs. We were at a small party celebrating Kali’s birthday the other day. One of the friends has a brother with very advanced lung cancer. The gave him one Chemo session to which he reacted very badly. All the stuff they keep expecting me to go through. So sorry to disappoint. They removed his brother from any further Chemo treatments. So are you still on Chemo, he asks me. Yes. How long have you been on Chemo. Almost a year now, since last October. He was dumbfounded. I do not look or behave like a Chemo patient. Except for the afternoon naps. We are all different.

My blood work showed more positive results than last time. My liver enzymes are closer to where they should be with one indicative being totally in the normal range.

Dr. Hedley brought up the fact that we have not had a break since this thing started. I started feeling the pains in June 2009. By August 1, the diagnosis was fairly complete and certain. Operation on September 2, Chemo in October. Yikes. A year without a break. The doctor saw no reason why we should not stop the treatments right now and take our vacation. A CT-Scan was planned for Friday (today) to set a baseline for the future. Next CT-Scan in two months. Chemo would only start again if my situation deteriorates. A steady condition will result in a longer vacation.

A two month Chemo Vacation is on the books. Cannot believe it. I am in a bit of a daze. Basically what happens when you receive bad news or terrifically good news. You cannot believe your ears and shut down. Two months with no Chemo.

Janet and I stared at each other. What do you say? How do you react?

Doctor Hedley wanted to feel my stomach to make sure all was right. I suggested that things were still a bit tender. I can lift heavier bags now, but feel some discomfort if I overdo things. I am sure the healing process will speed up without the Chemo getting in the way. He appeared to confirm this. Good news. I am looking into going to the pool on a regular basis to strengthen the stomach a bit. I get bored swimming. Back and forth, you go. I will have to do it nevertheless.

Can we start eating raw meats again? I miss my steak tartar, sushi, and oysters. I was given the green light for sushi. Say it ain’t so. We decided on the spot that we would have that for dinner to celebrate. Diana, Nancy and her daughter Lily are coming over. Makes for a grand celebration.

Dr Hedley mentioned that we are in really good hands with his nurse, Shahnaz. We truly are. She is magnificent. She mentioned how much the nurses in the Chemo daycare like me. I walk in with my big laugh and cheer them up. The doctor just shook his head. All the nurses love him he says. Then gives me a gigantic hug before leaving.

Janet and I were left alone for a few minutes in the consulting room. She high fived me. This is the first time in almost a year were I could a glimmer of hope in her eyes. She seemed ecstatic over the news. She had a bright smile and a glitter to her eyes. That was enough to make me happy.

I phoned Fetneh and Fo’ad that night. It is always good to talk to them after news like this. It helps air my thoughts, clear the cobwebs a bit, get some perspective. I eMailed them of course, but that was not clear enough for them. Fetneh was jumping for joy. She made me promise to not withdraw from life because of this. The are chances of withdrawal symptoms creeping in if you are not careful. The hospital has been a home away from home, as it were. A very safe place to spend time in. You get sort of attached to these things. The routine. However horrible the Chemo experience is, you get used to the routine. The people. The support.

I assure her that I will not regress. I will keep the blog going. I may have a bit of trouble adjusting to the new freedom. We will see.

Fo’ad was just as supportive, of course. How does this change life? I don’t know. My curly head of hair may even make a comeback. I see no negatives in any of this. I become so much stronger when I am off Chemo for even a week. This can only be good.

We have lots of plans. We have been invited to all sorts of places. Long trips are out of the question. One day excursions within the vicinity of Toronto can be done. We are going to see Anne and Frank in Pickering, John and Sharon have invited us to their horse farm, Heather and Neil want us to go their farm. Heather reminded me that it is almost a year to the day when we went to their farm to share the news. Their friend Beth was there, also a cancer patient. She had a long conversation with me about what to expect. Strange to think of that now.

Devin is leaving us to go pursue a master degree in Change Management at the New School in New York City. We should be flying down on August 21. Sadness and happiness combined. I am ever so proud of him.

September will see me visit Montreal again to spend some time with Hong Lan. Janet will be attending the film festival in Toronto. My visit to Montreal will take some pressure off her. I have to talk to Hong Lan a bit more about what her remedies are. Stuff that includes acupuncture to increase energy levels. She deluged with so much information that I had trouble absorbing it all. A revisit is a must. To say nothing of spending time with Fetneh, of course. I will try and stay in the same apartment as before, taking advantage of Steve Mykolyn’s generosity. It is good to have a space of your own, specially when you are in my condition.

I lay down when we got home. All this stuff is a bit overwhelming. We had dinner and I returned to bed and made my phone calls.

Yesterday was my very first day of this vacation. I slept for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I also wandered around the house a bit lost. I have so many things to do, so many projects on the go. Where to start? Sleep of course. I am having lunch with Kali today. Looking forward to that. Planning the trip to New York when I get home from that.

Tomorrow is a new day. Taking us back to another sense of normalcy. Can’t wait.

This has been a recurring theme. It is fitting that it should be addressed in its very own post. What honour.

Life has changed to the point that the future has little meaning. People are always telling me that we do not know when we are going to die. This should make it easier to survive my plight. It is true that our death is pretty much out of our hands, unless we are going for the Darwin Awards. Short of that we really have no idea when the idea is coming.

What a privilege to know that your life will be shortened by whatever the number of years. Imagine my disappointment if it is not. Going through this journey and reconciling oneself to the inevitability of a shortened life only to find it will last longer than expected. How to deal with all that extra time? Won’t I live with the expectation of impending doom past a certain point?

I am not sure what the future has in hand. How long my life will be, and I do not dwell on the subject very often. The thoughts do linger though. I have learned one thing through this very short journey, everyone is different and no two conditions are the same. I hear stories all the time about people surviving beyond the expected time frame. Everyone is careful not to talk about the people who did not, of course. Not one person has said, “you have what? Oh my God, I just heard of a guy just like that, he was gone in two years!”

No one would ever say that. Not even as a joke. People are very sensitive to one’s plight and say whatever they say in order t encourage and make the condition appear to be less dire that it appears. Much appreciated. Have I told you lately about the bag that is taped to my stomach?

People mean well and comments are taken at face value. The conversations are always appreciated. Each and everyone contain glimmers of wisdom and thought provoking statements that I would not miss for the world.

One of the comments most mentioned is the one that one is now forced to live on a day to day basis. There is certainly a measure of truth in that. One of the reasons is that you have little energy to think about anything past a reasonable amount of time, say Monday when you are going for a very telling CT-Scan. But you do not tend to dwell on things too far into the future. Your condition in some ways forces you to remain very much in the present, even during the good week in between treatments.

An unclear future , either in length or any other measure you care to discuss can get very depressing. There is a distinct danger of wallowing in self pity. Yet at some point, you have to start thinking about what you are going to do with yourself. I do have some time in front of me. The chemo treatments will end at some point, and I will recover. Leaving thoughts of what to do with oneself to the last minute is too much procrastination, even for me.

Your thought and comments are appreciated.

There will be another post on this topic. It is inevitable. See, already thinking past today.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha