I am sorry, but I cannot continue with the series as I once thought. Somehow, I thought that it would be good for me to write about the journey and it would give me perspective on cancer and living. In reality, it hurts to much to recall the journey that I am trying to write about. It hurts to remember the hope that came the day of the surgery when the surgeon said that everything could not have gone more beautifully. It hurts to much to remember the sheer elation that I felt when I heard the surgeon say that he was cancer free. And that my husband would measure survival in decades. It hurts to much to remember that I believed that we received a miracle. Unless a decade is comprised of two years, we haven’t had a miracle or a decade. The reality of the present and the memories of the past are so great in disappointment that my heart cannot continue to remember. I know that the surgeon tried and he did his best. It isn’t enough. Everything that we have done and everything that my husband has endured is not enough to keep him here on this earth. It isn’t enough.
I hurts too much to remember that after the surgery, we looked to the future for the first time in months. We moved to the family farm with the hope and belief that we were going to live our golden years. It meant that we were about 20 years premature, but we were going to watch the sunsets and enjoy beginning again.
For four months, the tumors were in remission and we looked ahead instead of behind us. But then there was the day that he noticed the hard quarter size place on his suture line. In the late summer, the surgeon said that it was a stitch that failed to dissolve or an adhesion. He wasn’t worried. It began as the size of a quarter. In two months, it was the size of an orange. By the time we could get into see the surgeon in January of this year, it was the size of a grapefruit. I knew it wasn’t good when the surgeon sent us directly to IU Med oncology. I knew that the hope that surgery gave us was gone.
And now, the tumors are everywhere. They totally fill the abdomen and the room that was achieved from removal of the spleen, the bowel and everywhere that was occupied by the original tumorsi s lost. The tumors and their size are filling every space and crushing every organ that is in his abdomen. I guess we are waiting for them to squeeze the kidneys or liver into shut down. My husband has taken the integrative treatment, the chemotherapy, changed his diet and he has done everything that can be done. Nothing has stopped or deterred this menace. It is like an advancing horde that knows no barrier or respects no one or nothing.
Yesterday, we saw the oncologist. There is one type of chemo that my husband has declined to consider until now. He has steered away from this therapy because of the history of stroke in his family. One of the risks of this drug is vascular complications and that includes stroke. So now, we are at the zero hour and we have this as the last recourse. I hate the feeling of desperation that comes when the options are whittled down to none. But, as our oncologist said yesterday, the only treatment that was available was for a cancer that he does not have. He does not have colorectal cancer, but that regime is all that they have to work with for his rare, terminal and advanced cancer.
That has left us with taking a treatment that puts him at risk for a possible condition that can diminish his life quality or an abrupt ending of his mobility. But, what are the risks verses the outcome of death? Now, the risk is the minor concern. The major concern now is the cost of the treatment. As we began looking into this treatment, we don’t know if we can cover the co-payments of the medicine. I don’t think that we make enough money on a monthly basis to cover the co payment medication, so the nurses are trying to get the medicine covered through some sort of assistance through the manufacturer of the medication. If they cannot get the assistance, the journey is over and he will not be able to take the chemotherapy.
That is why I can’t go on with the reminiscing of this journey. Remembering the relief, the hope and the past causes too much pain as I realize that we are just months away from the end. Even with the new chemo, it is only a stop-gap measure. We may or may not see this year out and the new year in. It hurts too much to remember the journey and the hope that I felt now because the present tells us that it has all been done in futility. Everything has been done for nothing. Or, almost nothing. He has lived two more years than he would have had the surgery not taken place.
Futility isn’t something with which I do well. I really don’t like loosing at anything and in the past 5 years, that is what I have done, loose. Loosing at life, is so unacceptable to me that I am failing in all areas of life. I am unable to focus on the basics of daily living, and the sad part of it all, I know it. I am in suspended animation. I am not living. I don’t recognize this as living. I am so lost in this game called Life. And the really sad part of it all, is that it isn’t about me. It is about him and my call in life to help him leave this world. My selfishness is too great. I can’t think about much of anything other than he is leaving me. It may be against his will, but it doesn’t change the fact. He is leaving me. He is going somewhere that I can’t go. And it torments me.
I may be able to tell the rest of the story of the Journey into the Shadows, but right now, the Shadows are deepening and I must concentrate on looking into this dark night and not behind to yesterday when the shadows were only gray.
I don’t know the outcome of the next chemotherapy, other than the oncologist told him that there is nothing that is going to stop this approaching walk into the sunset of life. I saw his face and it is clear that he is not ready to face this. I know that I am not ready. We are loosing hope. Nothing can live without hope.
I believe I saw how he will be ready. Yesterday, he had such terrible pain and pressure that he began to cry. Of course, I pulled out every painkiller that I had and like a witches brew, I concocted the most powerful and fastest acting response that my nursing background could muster. Pain is the enemy and I can fight it. I could see the fear in his eyes and I felt the helplessness inside of me. I know that this kind of distress is where his daily life is headed and I don’t want to watch his pain and my helplessness.
Within 15 minutes, his pain was receding, but I saw how his resolve to not leave me will be eroded. It will be the pain that causes his grip on life to be loosened. It will be pain that will pry away his will to live. It will do it one finger at a time. It will also be what causes me to surrender him to the inevitable. I can’t endure his pain. I will let go so that he can be without the pain.
Yesterday was a dress rehearsal, and today, is another day. I don’t know what is in store, I just know, I can’t go back to yesterday’s journey. I can’t remember the hope that was so alive and well in me then. It hurts too badly and the days ahead will have enough of pain. Whether it is the physical pain or the emotional pain. It will have enough.
Today, I have to live through it. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never be, so it is today. “As long as it is called ‘Today’…….” I want to believe that as long as it is called Today, there is hope. But my grip on hope is being pryed away, one finger at a time by his pain.
Is my God too kind to be so cruel? I always believed so. It is my faith that is shaky and that is truly frightening. Without my faith,I have no hope. Having no hope is the beginning of the end for me.
I am hoping that tomorrow brings hope. Somehow, I must find hope.