Saturday, July 27, 2013

Observations from the front lines @ the Cancer Treatment Center.

So, yesterday the Chicago area pretended it was May weather (and it was 65 degrees and raining on the way to the Hospital). As a matter of fact, it rained the rest of the day while remaining cool. It reminded us of the day we first went to CTCA in May.

Penny went through her last chemo treatment this morning and we received the date of the Cystoscopy.... September 9th (6 weeks from now). So we will most likely be spending our 22nd wedding anniversary weekend at the Hospital (our anniversary is on 9/11). So we will be getting the trailer ready to take to Illinois Beach on September 8th (we don't know what the cystoscopy results will be.... if another tumor is found, if it has spread, or if she is cancer free). The trailer will be there for me in case of additional surgery that requires her to recover over multiple days and I need an inexpensive place to stay ($25 a day) or it will be there for us to celebrate both good news and our anniversary with some downtime at Illinois Beach (camping).

She is pretty tired lately due to the chemo and is starting to realize her limitations as a result of her treatment (and we have talked lately of just how far things have to go before she decides her quality of life is more important than continuing to put poison into her body or risking major surgery). She knows what that means also, but to put perspective on that... she has survived multiple hospitalizations and a shooting (and believes she has been living on borrowed time for a while). The possibility of a neo-bladder or other major surgery has her spooked (rightfully so) because her immune system has not been that kind to her during previous surgeries. After our experience with my mother and her battle with Pancreatic Cancer over 3 years ago plus interacting with other patients at CTCA, we are much more aware of "quality of life". 4 years ago before our experience with my mother, I would have pushed Penny to use every means possible to live another day to the point of argument.

Now? I just want her to be as comfortable and happy as she can possibly be at all times (and I will support any decision she makes as it is her life that is being lived... not mine). Sometimes the lines get blurred when trying to support one's loved one and you can see it playing out in real life when interacting with other cancer patients at CTCA (so instead of my forcing my opinion on her, we only discuss the options and we discuss them in detail). Her decision is then what we go with (and I support her 100% regarding that decision). It is what I hope she would do for me if the situation was that I had the cancer (and I know she'd afford me the same latitude given our mutual experiences).

Every time we go to CTCA, we see so many life stories unfolding In front of us (many people at different aspects of their journey). For instance: We drive up to CTCA and the first thing we see are some patients and/or caregivers going for a smoke on the front sidewalk. We are blown away by that, because when they come into the Hospital, they usually reek of that smoke (which offends and affects people close by.... especially on elevators or other close quarters). The fact that it either doesn't dawn on them or they don't care shows the deep affect of addiction (to Cigarettes in this case).... and why we see so many people walking around with masks on (who are either can be affected by the environment due to weakened immune systems or they cannot handle the overpowering smells around them).

One sees how people are especially in the cafeteria (you see who is hungry, who isn't, who needs help, who tries to be independent, etc. Some wear masks, wigs, bandannas, or are shaved/bald. We don't see people as African-American, Caucasian, Asian, etc., we see people who are trying to hang on to whatever life they have left (wanting to be treated as a person and with dignity). Each one of these people are there trying to extend their lives (and are at different stages of that).... and there are some that are at the end of their tether (trying despite evidence to the contrary to cling to the hope they have a chance). Penny is not anywhere near that, but considering everything she has endured until now regarding all of her medical issues to date.... she is much more realistic about her situation (and she is about the most brave person I know). 

On September 9th, we'll know where things are at medically. We are praying we got ahead of the cancer and that the chemo did the job and that all of this will be moot in the long run (and she will count herself as a cancer survivor with cancer in remission). Penny is due for some good news and we pray that she gets it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated due to the blog being Public.