The future's so bright, he has to wear shades...
Greetings, Dear Ones,
In keeping with our policy of “Breaking News Airs Immediately,” I have a most joyous up-date to share. We had an appointment with Dr. Mulvihill on Friday, and we were really looking forward to it. At our previous visit with the Doctor, I had promised that the next time he saw Dennis, there would be vast improvement. Dennis has not only gained weight, but stamina and strength as well. He is borderline stud-muffin! His sense of humor is back, which saves my bacon concerning personal blog blab, and there is an over-all sense of well-being. I could hardly wait for Dr. Mulvihill to see I had made good on my promise.
It is my custom to take notes during the course of the appointment, because there is so much information dispensed that it exceeds my cranial capacity. When Dr. Mulvihill entered the room, he began enthusiastically informing us about Dennis’ over-all physical condition. He was anxious for Dennis to transition off the tube feedings, and promised that he will feel even better at the conclusion of the chemo treatments. He stressed that we continue the positive mental attitude, daily physical activity, and good diet. He did not want us to neglect the social aspect of meals. I had not thought of that, but I guess there is some validity to gathering the family around the old gruel pot.
But then he inserted something into the general interview that caught us both off guard. He said he wanted us to transition our thinking from cancer patient to cancer survivor. SURVIVOR! He said SURVIVOR! He continued with his reasoning for this, but Dennis and I just sat there looking bewildered. We looked like we had just been “tased.” I’m talkin’ “deer-in-the-headlights” stunned. It was a textbook case of “survivor confusion?” Is it possible that the idea of NED can so take one by surprise it becomes impossible to process the information? Even Dennis’ mouth was open. Oh, perhaps not the full-blown, molar-exposing, mouth gape like I was, but drop-jaw, nonetheless. For once, I was absolutely speechless! And I haven't stopped talking about it since. When I finally managed to get both my upper and lower lips in near enough proximity to form words, I asked him if he could walk me through that idea one more time…did he actually consider Dennis a survivor? He said unequivocally, “Yes.” He reiterated that Dennis was NED (no evidence of disease) there are no abnormal lymph nodes in the neck, his eyes are clear, and his tumor markers are 36. I wanted to ask a follow-up question to my follow-up question, but as luck would have it, all my faculties froze, and my allergies kicked in. My throat closed off, and every facial portal opened up. I oozed from all my orifices (orifi?) It was not pretty. Dennis was able to compose himself enough to inquire about going to Disneyland and returning to work this summer. Dr. Mulvihill thought both were excellent suggestions. I was about to ask about a Mediterranean cruise, but I was afraid that might be pushing it. And then Dr. Mulvihill left.
We lingered in the exam room hugging, before we were composed enough to emerge. We were scheduled for Friday infusion, and had to have labs drawn. However, Dennis’ vitals must have been affected by our visit with Dr. Mulvihill.
Pulse: 92…after passionate kiss – 92 ½ (Memo to self: work on technique, girlfriend!)
Weight: 121 fully clothed.
Height: 5’8” – after good news…5’12
Color: pink…accentuated with designer gray
Smile: quite perceptible.
This is all good. However, the blood counts and his ANC were low enough that it was decided to postpone the chemo infusion until next week as they did not want to compromise his immune system.
So we drove home, speaking in word fragments and partial sentences. (we--, what the…hmmm, that sort of thing)
And then we worked on our transitioning skills. How do we think like a survivor? Dennis suggested we buy a toilet. For some reason, that seemed reasonable. Then I suggested we buy three. And for some reason, that too seemed reasonable. (Memo to selves: keep working on transition skills!)
When we arrived home, the Willow Creek angels arrived with home-made chicken soup and a bucket-load of candy. In our best effort to think in transition, we pounded down a theater-size box of “Goobers” without pausing for breath. We polished off those bad boys like it was an Olympic competition. And then we collapsed, exhausted and panting, into our recliners in a sugar stupor that surpasseth all understanding. Oh, the therapeutic value of the common Goober! (But we’ve got a ways to go on this transition thing.)
For so long now our lives have been measured by cycles of chemo, radiation, corrective procedures, major surgery, and doctors’ appointments. I am not sure how we will organize the propulsion of time when these treatments are concluded. By seasons? By events? By impulse? We have decided that we will be doing Thanksgiving again. I personally want to go outside, smell the flowers, inhale Spring, and schnuck up whole lilac bushes in a single sniff. Ah, but then I would have to account for the contents of my nostrils, and the humiliation factor made me think better of it.
So far, in our efforts to transition our thinking from patient to survivor, we have:
- Bought toilets.
- Stuffed Goobers.
- Inhaled blossoms
Now what? Any suggestions?
We haven’t taken off our armor…the battle isn’t over yet. Perhaps we never will…we’ve grown rather accustomed to it. We are a little dazed at the moment, but our hearts are very full. This has been a long voyage, and we have not reached our destination just yet. We have had turbulent seas and major storms. But you have bridged the troubled water with tenderness, mercies, endearments, and love. We are most grateful.
We love you all dearly,
p.s. We are over half way to our $5,000 goal! The word "Survivor" is possible in large part to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Dr. OMara is training hard for the 206 mile race- Let's keep it going! For more info, or to donate, CLICK HERE