Jun 16, 2019
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future
To a known God”
Corrie ten Bloom
My wife of 58 years (June 10) and best friend Eileen has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the esophagus. She has received radiation to reduce the tumor, and is now undergoing chemo. This blog will give my thoughts, fears, prayers, and hopes during this challenging and difficult time.
Eileen received chemo on Monday, this being the second of the third cycle (3 chemo weeks, followed by one off is one cycle). At the end of this cycle we will be half-way through the planned chemo schedule. Things have become somewhat predictable, and Eileen is responding better than we had hoped. She is feeling little pain or heartburn, but very tired all the time. The white blood cell count has been low, so we have been going in for a booster shot almost every day. The physical therapy has been a very good thing for her ability to get around, but it is still a day-by-day thing. We usually go out for lunch after Mass on Sunday, but this past week Eileen decided she was too tired to go. And we have left early once because of her exhaustion. The tiredness is a result of both the chemo and the cancer, and it is truly debilitating. Sleep does not help, only exercise offers any relief – and it is difficult to motivate to do exercise when one is very tired, but there it is.
We have no idea how long the plateau will last, hopefully for a long time. There is no way to tell what is occurring in the body short of going in and taking biopsies, and they hope to be able to do that during a break in chemo treatments. In the meantime, we are taking whatever pleasures we can in the beautiful views and just being together when we can.
Eileen was able to get out on the nice days and trim some of the bonsai, and we went to our annual bonsai picnic on Saturday. It has been held at our place for the past several years, but we moved it to another beautiful house and a grand time has held by all. We were there about three hours, laughing and chatting with friends, all of whom we have known for many years. Luckily most of our bonsai are fairly well grown, and this year don’t require extensive work. Only daily watering when nature doesn’t take care of it, and weekly feeding, all of which I do. Oh yes, pulling weeds that have drifted into the pots!, lots of weeds.
God seems to be giving us this time of relative quiet to aid us in this journey. It can be challenging, but I have learned so much in the process. I have learned to plan a meal (simple), do most of the cooking, make the bed, wash the clothes; all the things that I had taken for granted in the past, and now is a daily thing. Do we have food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Simple questions that Eileen had always taken care of, but she can’t do that now.
We have been truly blessed in our lives. This process of cancer has been relatively slow, but intense, so we fully understand what will happen, but not when. We (hopefully) have another three months in chemo, and then? We just don’t know. Eileen has been reasonably pain free and free from the horror stories we have heard of chemo, but our oncologist has mentioned several times that the chemo is fairly light, so the side effects have been fairly light. She is been able to enjoy friends and family, going to church on Sundays, going to Mohonk, down to our daughter’s play that she directed, and many things that came along. All of the children and grandchildren have been able to be here for some time, and the many cards and notes received have been breathtaking.
Indeed, God is good.
God, Your Love has blazed with joy and wonder during this journey. I am in awe for all the beauty that has appeared in our lives, and all the love that has been expressed over the past four months. Our lives are generally quiet, for it is that time of life where quiet is the norm. The process of the journey makes our senses more alert, helps us to love more tenderly, and our compassion and love of life is ever stronger, even though we know that life in this world is short. Our time we spend each day in mediation and contemplation prove life-giving periods, that enable us each day to move through the day relying on You ever more. We bow in gratitude for this time of gentleness.