Welcome home, fellow Gator.

The Gator Nation's oldest and most active insider community
Join today!

Living and Coping with a Diagnosis of Cancer

Discussion in 'GatorTail Pub' started by lacuna, May 2, 2019.

  1. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

    59,718
    19,757
    2,568
    Apr 3, 2007
    Irvine, Fl
    love the deft mix of honesty, dignity, humor and reflection... you GO Girl!
     
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  2. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Good morning, Sunshine

    Waking early is not unusual for me, so most days I am up to watch the sunrise. This morning was no exception, but when I looked out the kitchen window into the back yard I was delighted to see a bobcat sitting in the small circle of grass in the backyard where the rabbit comes to graze most afternoons. Our part time housekeeper had told us she had seen one, but it was a first time spotting for me. I awakened Trucker to share the sight, but the cat was just out of our line of sight from the bedroom window. Disappointed not to see it, he grumbled and went back to bed.

    It makes me happy to see the wild life coming into the yard. In Florida we lived on a golf course adjacent to Payne's Prairie that was also a bird sanctuary. On most days Sandhill cranes could be spotted strutting somewhere in our neighborhood, and even up our own driveway. Other times of the year flocks of cattle egrets flew in to forage for insects up and down the fairway behind our house. Gators were always close, as were rabbits, armadilloes, and turtles. A female American bullfrog lived within our screen pool enclosure for nearly a year and became accustomed enough to my presence to share the pool with me several times.

    A lush trumpet vine straddles the wooden privacy fence between our backyard and the neighbors. It was in full bloom with orange blossoms when we first looked at this house to buy it last August. Now it is in full leaf and my neighbor and I, anticipating the return of hummingbirds, have placed feeders to attract them. Neighbor Kellie tells me so many came last summer the territorial birds had aerial fights over the vine covered fence. The birds are back and are visiting the feeders, but the generous presence of lilacs throughout the valley mostly has their attention right now.

    Best thing about today - it's Saturday and a much needed day off from radiation.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
  3. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

    59,718
    19,757
    2,568
    Apr 3, 2007
    Irvine, Fl
    living in the scrub just south of Orange Lake & west of I 75 out hiummingbirds have been at the feeders for more than a month and the butterflies including Monarchs are a constant on the Butterfly weed, joe pye, coral bean,cone flowers and all the native bloomers we have collected, no bob cats in at least 10 years, it makes for a wonderful refuge these days, happy you have the same out west...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Another Monday and my first radiation treatment of the 2nd to last week is on the books. But who is counting? I joke about Scotty beaming me off to some exotic locale, but the truth is there are days when my imagination fails and I lie there on that hard table a gnat's hair from losing it. Talking to myself helps buck me up to get through it one more time, but the fear of a freakout is too close for comfort. The end is not yet close enough to see, with treatments scheduled the rest of this week and then one more.

    After thinking it through, and after asking the radiation therapists if patients ever took a break from the relentless schedule and learning that they sometimes do, I told them today I was dropping this week's Friday treatment. And as the following Monday was already postponed due to Memorial Day, I will have a long 4 day, mini vacation weekend. Dr Doogie approved my break saying a day or 2 here or there is acceptable but it is not recommended to shorten the treatments any more than that. The last chemo treatment will be on Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day next week, and the postponed, and last, Memorial radiation treatment will be a stand alone appointment on Monday, June 3rd.

    There was a party in the infusion clinic this past Monday when a breast cancer patient named Shirley finished her last day of chemo. Shirley's exuberance and optimism is contagious and the party she staged reflected it. She always comes with a basket of goodies or baked goods to share with other patients and staff and today was no exception. Several dozen donuts accompanied small bottles of non alcoholic sparkling grape juice. She was outlandishly dressed in a coconut shell bra and a grass skirt over a flesh colored body suit. A faux flowered lei was wrapped around the top of her head like a crown and she wore one around her neck, too. She had a basket full of them for anyone who wanted to wear one.

    It is a tradition for all chemo patients to ring a brass nautical bell when their treatments are completed. It is attached to the wall next to the front door into the clinic and Shirley pulled the cord and rang it loud and long with the expected dramatic flourish.

    She has her sober moments to balance her dramatic personality. Both Trucker and I have spoken privately and separately with her. She confided in him that her breast cancer prognosis is terminal. She told me to stay positive, that I am more than a number. She also said she told her doctor to go **** herself. Why, I do not know. Nor do I know which doctor she was referring to as there are several female physicians on staff. It was a surprisingly bitter facet of her otherwise effervescent personality. What she does now I do not know. One option for terminal patients is palliative radiation. Given less frequently at lower doses, it does not cure but helps keep pain in check.

    My daughter and her 8 year old son are coming on Friday for a week's visit and I'm hoping the extra days off will allow me to enjoy their company a little more by shortening the schedule. Grand son is hoping to work on some art projects with me when he is here. Three of my six grand children enjoy playing with my paints and other craft supplies but my craft room is not yet organized as it should be. I've got some work to do this week to make it ready for them, and myself. Hoping to find the strength to do it.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  5. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

    59,718
    19,757
    2,568
    Apr 3, 2007
    Irvine, Fl
    Grandkids are THE BEST Medicine (and distraction) good timing
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  6. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Ringing out
    Ring this bell
    Three times well
    Its toll to clearly say,
    My treatment's done
    This course is run
    And I am on my way!
    — Irve Le Moyne


    This short poem was written in 1996 by Rear Admiral Irve Charles Le Moyne , the first US Navy SEAL to attain that high office. The admiral hung the brass ship's bell and poem in the M D Anderson radiation treatment center in Houston, Texas to mark the completion of his course of radiation treatment for head and neck cancer.

    Since first hung in '96 the bell and poem tradition has been widely adopted by most, if not all, cancer treatment centers, both chemo and radiation. Each patient who finishes a course of treatment stands at the bell and rings it 3 times. Some read aloud the poem at their ringing, or the oncological staff recites the poem. When first told of this rite of passage it was with the comment all bell ringers cry when their time has come to toll out the completion of treatment. I was sure that would not apply to me. A quaint tradition, but I did not see myself crying at the sound of the bell. How wrong I was. When I stood at the bell today, the last day of chemo, the tears came between hearing myself recite, "Its toll to clearly say ... My treatment's done."

    Trucker, our daughter, daughter-in-law, and 3 of our grandchildren were with me to celebrate this rite of passage today. There were lots of tears and and lots of relief this course was now complete. Still left with 5 more radiation treatments, and another bell ringing to mark that end next week.

    Admiral Lemoyne died from cancer in 1997.

    Irve C. Le Moyne, 57, Admiral And Founder of a Command

    "Rear Adm. Irve Charles Le Moyne, the nation's highest-ranking Navy Seal and a founder of the United States military joint special operations command, died on Saturday in the San Diego Hospice. He was 57.

    "In a 35-year career, Admiral Le Moyne carried out special missions around the world, for which he received numerous awards and commendations.

    "After the failure of the rescue of American hostages in Iran in 1979, Admiral Le Moyne was among those who pushed for an overhaul and integration of the nation's military special operations units, uniting the special forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. He urged the senior Navy command to work with the other services to improve communications, coordination and equipment among the special units of the military.

    "After founding the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif., in 1987 and serving as the first commander in charge of all Navy Seals and Special Boat Units, Admiral Le Moyne rose in 1993 to be deputy commander of the United States Special Operations Command based in Tampa, Fla."


    Thank you, Admiral Le Moyne.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 3
    • Winner Winner x 1
  7. duchen

    duchen VIP Member

    6,249
    1,657
    563
    Nov 25, 2017
    Hi J. I don’t come to this bird that often and didn’t realize that you were updating. Hang in there. Praying for your health to improve. Really have enjoyed what you have to say since I joined here. Even if you are related to 51. I will check in here to see how you are doing.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  8. gatorknights

    gatorknights GC Hall of Fame

    24,884
    2,027
    1,093
    Apr 8, 2007
    Gainesville, FL
    Got the call yesterday. Despite the battle that this brave soldier and veteran fought, the enemy won. My hat and my heart go out to all who fight this fight, it ain't easy. :emoji_bow:
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  9. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Finally Friday, as the end comes to a busy week. Daughter and 8 year old son were here for 6 days to brighten our days and give Trucker a few much needed breaks in his routine caring for my needs and doing for me what I can't do for myself. She travels a good deal, collecting frequent flyer miles and upgrades with her job with Apple, and has the flexibility to work remotely which allows her to visit frequently.

    Our grand son stayed with his cousins up the road from us, preferring their company, bikes, and bunk beads to the pull out sofa in Trucker's office. The 2 younger boys were back and forth quite a bit though, with numerous bikes and scooters making it an easy commute on the stretch of sidewalk between our streets. They prefer the sidewalks and the more hilly streets of my son's neighborhood, but like to climb on the rock wall in our back yard. Armed with a boomerang they played in the neighborhood school yard 'til the boomerang didn't come back. :( They supplied us with several fascinating theories as to why that happened. o_O

    My daughter took the untidy craft room situation in hand and got it under control for me. We got things organized enough to set up an acrylic pour painting project for her son. He enjoyed it but I was disappointed to find the quality of some of the acrylic paint and/or pouring medium noticeably deteriorated from the last time it was used before the move. I'm thinking the prolonged subfreezing conditions in the moving van adversely affected it. We used it straight from the tube with the usual predictable results so I'm thinking - hoping - it's only the pouring medium, a less expensive component to replace.

    Daughter took the 2 energetic boys on a hike to explore the trails behind and between our neighborhoods, and search for the locally famous carved wooden gnomes, placed in and on juniper trees growing on the top of the ridge a quarter or so mile away. There are thought to be several dozen of them, skillfully carved by an unknown wood carver who then wired them in and under the branches of the trees. My neighbor Kellie first told us about them, then others also mentioned they had spotted a few. Kellie said she and her husband found more than 20 but said other people had counted more than 30. Daughter and grandsons found 7 but were hindered in having to cut their time on the ridge short. She wants to go back up there when she returns and place numbered stickers temporarily on each one they find to try and get an accurate count as she thinks they may have counted 1 or 2 of them more than once.

    She took some pictures though I don't have the means or skill to post them. This picture I found on the 'Net is an excellent example of what these soulful wooden faces look like. They range in size from 12 to 24 inches with a variety of facial expressions. Some are laughing and smiling, others angry or surprised. Frowning, tongue sticking out, eyes open, eyes closed. I wish I could see them for myself.

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 4
  10. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Saddened to read you lost your friend, J. I hope his transition was peaceful. I've known, or known of several people who clung to life for amazingly long periods of time despite greatly compromised health. Paradoxically, life can simultaneously be both tenacious and tenuous. Though eventually, inevitably, the slender silver cord stretches and frays to the point of break. At that point, I know the relief from the release is welcome.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  11. gatorknights

    gatorknights GC Hall of Fame

    24,884
    2,027
    1,093
    Apr 8, 2007
    Gainesville, FL
    When he first told me he was sick, he confessed he had known something was wrong, as he was in the medical corp in the Navy. But he went all tough guy and waited too late. It was a race against time from the beginning. He fought and fought, as well his medical personnel and they were making great progress with most all the little tumors getting removed/killed off but it was the "mothership", a golf ball sized tumor in his liver that did him in. That said, even that bad boy was shrinking. It sounds to me like great progress is being made, and if his fight helps someone down the road, he would be very pleased.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. tilly

    tilly Superhero Mod. Fast witted. Bulletproof posts. Moderator VIP Member

    I rarely come to the pub. Though I was aware of your diagnosis, I was not aware of this thread.
    Lacuna, you are awesome. Thanks for the transparency. Please know you are in my sincerest prayers!
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  13. ArtVandelay

    ArtVandelay GC Hall of Fame

    3,310
    284
    263
    Dec 19, 2011
    South Florida
    June 15 will be 14 years for my dad. Pancreatic.

    Good luck with the treatment and I hope you find comfort in knowing that there are a lot of us here that are rooting for you and thinking about you. You are strong and I'm here for you if you need anything.

    Jewish Prayer for the Sick: Mi Sheberach | My Jewish Learning
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  14. RayGator

    RayGator Moderator VIP Member

    55,227
    3,712
    2,118
    Apr 3, 2007
    Lakeland, Florida USA.
    Lacuna, you’ve got this, you can defeat this. A big rock you have is your solid support from your many, many friends here on Gator Country. You have a lot of prayers being said on your behalf by those who love and support you. May our God bless and protect you. Always.

    “The Priestly Blessing”.
    Numbers 6: 24-26. KJV.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  15. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Thank you, ArtVandelay.

     
  16. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Thank you, Ray. I am truly blessed. You too, have had your own battles with this beast. If you feel up to it please share with us. We too, pray for you.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    One Day More!



    29 radiation treatments down; one to go. Dr Doogie amped up the last 5. Says it's a 'boost.' It means the area being radiated is smaller, exclusively focused on the site where the beast is attached to the vena cava. My time in Scottie's clutches is now down to 2 passes rather than the 4 that swept over a broader field in my abdomen. The amount of radiation I'm receiving has not been reduced, it remains the same but is now concentrated in the narrower area and doubled.

    With the radiated field reduced and raised I have received blessed relief from the chronic diarrhea that plagued me from the 3rd day of the first week. Dr Doogie tells me I can expect my greatly diminished strength to recover to pre-treatment level within 3 weeks, unless I am one of the unfortunate few who don't bounce back for 2 or 3 months.

    As warned, it has become more difficult and the exhaustion has me near the breaking point. Some days are 'wheel chair days' when the walk from the car to the treatment room is more than I can handle. Trucker drops me off at the entrance where the hospital wheel chairs are kept and I sit myself in one while he parks. Thankfully we have only had to do this a handful of times. Tomorrow, my last day, I would like to walk in and out, read the admiral's poem and ring the brass bell while standing on my feet.

    We are taking donuts in for the staff to say "thank you" for their care and kindnesses. I want to give a dozen or so to the 'hole in the wall' gang, most of whom I never see as they work in the computer diagnostic treatment center reached through a barn like sliding door across the corridor from the small radiation waiting room. Staff, nurses and doctors are constantly popping in and out with work orders and food. I think there must be a portion of the space reserved for breaks and lunches as staff frequently carries food in with them. We joke with the nurses about the card game they have going on in there. They are good natured and joke back, but the door stays shut.

    Trucker and I will have a much needed 4 week break from this relentless daily routine. We are already planning day trips to explore the Western Slope including a venture over to Moab. Then another series of CT and PET scans to compare with the ones done pre-treatment and to set a baseline for the future after the immunotherapy is concluded. Still a long way to go.
     
  18. gatorjjh

    gatorjjh A Gator with a Glass half full attitude Moderator VIP Member

    59,718
    19,757
    2,568
    Apr 3, 2007
    Irvine, Fl
    You can do it... no doubt you are a favorite with the med staff and admin along with the folks who make it all work in a major med facility, just like you are here.
    Looking forward to your next missive, any chance Trucker can take a vid of your bell ring to post here for all your buds in the Pub?
    Ring that Bell loud & proud!!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. wrpgator

    wrpgator GC Hall of Fame

    2,543
    4,804
    508
    Dec 12, 2013
    God Bless you Lacuna.
    It took me months get my strength back (25 rad sessions) but you sound tougher than me.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Fistbump/Thanks! Fistbump/Thanks! x 1
  20. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

    60,126
    2,137
    1,743
    Apr 8, 2007
    Redlands, Colorado
    Trucker and I set fire to our back yard lawn today. It was cathartic. Though cannabis is the type of grass usually smoked in our back yard, there is now a scorched section of blue grass sitting in the middle of our dried out, unwatered dead lawn. I told him I was going to put a lighter to it and asked him to man the hose to put it out when it got too close to the house or something of value.

    Our day started off badly, finishing off a weekend spent stressing over a missed appointment last Thursday with my lead oncologist. It was an appointment I was looking forward to, I was to learn the details of the immunotherapy treatment scheduled to begin next month. I don't know where the miscommunication occurred, or with whom, but Trucker and I did not know I had the appointment until the nurse called asking if I wanted to reschedule. The appointment scheduler called this morning but the soonest date/time available is June 27. GRRR

    My frustration with having to wait an additional 2 weeks was the proverbial straw being laid upon the back of the camel. I was finally brought to the point of break. First howling like an enraged animal, then mewling like a wounded kitten, I let the months of thwarted plans, pent up frustration and anger, my self pity, and all my denials wail. I knew I needed this. My family knew I needed this. Trucker and my daughter both told me I needed a good cry. But tears don't always readily come when they are most needed.

    When Trucker walked into the bedroom he misunderstood, misread what was going on inside my head. Thinking I was over reacting to a 2 week delay, he told me I would not get better if I allowed an incident like a delayed appointment to set me back like this one was apparently doing. I told him it wasn't this singular frustration. It was all of it. All the frustrations, fears, delays and disappointments. All the pain and all the bad news. It was too much, I broke. And he, who had been saying I needed a good cry misread the situation. Misunderstanding his misread, I turned on him, making him the recipient of the wrath brought about by my over wrought emotional state.

    We later sorted it out and talked it over and made our peace. Trucker asked what frustrated me and we discussed how my illness had diverted our energies and time from doing the things we had planned on doing with the house and yard. The best laid plans ... The house has slowly come along. New flooring was installed before we moved in, along with some of the painting. Three more rooms were painted after we moved in. After several returns curtains were finally selected and are ready to be hung, but rods have not yet been attached to the walls above the windows.

    My greatest frustration is our failure give the time and attention necessary to transform our back yard to what we envision. Originally I wanted to build a small pool in the back but I changed my mind and we decided to kill the grass and xeriscape the yard with boulders, rocks, paving stones, cactus and other drought tolerant plants. This means depriving my almost daily cottontail visitor his morning breakfast, but a small patch of green leafy plants is easily provided for his pleasure. None of this has happened and now it is so late in the season landscapers we would consider hiring to take on the project are booked through September. GRRR. It was beginning to look as if the only change this summer will be looking at dead, brown grass instead of the water sucking green. Long, laden with seed in some areas, short and shorn in others where the rabbit dines daily. But even that can be changed. Curious about the type of soil under the dead sod, I grabbed a spade from the garage, passed by Trucker sitting in the family room, and went out the patio door. He asked what I planned and I replied I was going to turn over a couple of shovel loads to see what kind of soil we had to work with. It looks rich, but it is hard, highly compacted.
    Trucker made no objection when I asked him to ready the garden hose as I sparked the lighter. The dry grass caught and the fire quickly spread. We watched it burn for several minutes before extinguishing it. It was cathartic.