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Living and Coping with a Diagnosis of Cancer

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

  1. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    My recovery from the relentless debilitating fatigue has been uneven. Some days I have a bit of energy to do a few things around the house, a load of laundry here or there, bake Trucker a birthday cake, re-pot the lantana and other plants we bought, a little mending, take walks down to the end of the block and back, but mostly the exhaustion hangs on. I'm hoping I'm not one of the relatively few who can't shake it for a few months to come.

    I go to physical therapy once a week for a session with a therapist experienced with working with cancer patients. She analyzed my strengths and weaknesses and has given me exercises designed to strengthen my core and balance. She asked me what my goal is and I told her I want to walk from my house to my son's house, a distance just under a mile. It is relatively flat with sidewalks all the way, unless one takes the trails behind the neighborhoods that connect our streets. One can dream...

    Due to the neuropathic dysfunction I move slowly, really slowly. The sometimes ridiculous amount of time it takes me to do even the simplest task makes it difficult for people waiting on me to accomplish it. Mostly they realize I need to finish anything I feel inclined to start and resist helping me, even when they could finish whatever it might be a good deal faster. I try not to be discouraged by this, but my movement difficulties coupled with a perception of time moving faster and faster, leaves me feeling like I will never accomplish, or even catch up with all the things I want to do.

    Last Sunday I was feeling well enough that Trucker and I took a 4 hour day trip, driving up through the National forest at the top of the Grand Mesa just southeast of us. We went from an elevation of 4500 feet here in GJ, and a temperature of 93, to 11,200 feet and 63 degrees at the top of the mesa. It was beautiful and refreshingly cool with tons and tons of yet unmelted banks of snow. The streams were raging with melted water and the fast moving Gunnison and Colorado rivers are near flood level and white capped in their merged haste to make their way towards the Pacific. I know there are plans to raise the water levels of lakes Meade and Powell, so with irrigation demands along the way who knows how much of whatever precipitation falls here in Colorado will actually flow into the ocean.

    Snow will continue to fall, accumulate and melt in the spring. Skiers will continue to ski and enjoy it. The lovely columbine will bloom, aspen leaves will quake and squirrels will attack marauding snakes. Life will go on. Praise Be.
     
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  2. defensewinschampionships

    defensewinschampionships GC Hall of Fame

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    LOL

    Not at you, at the thought of mom using a computer to do something other than check email
     
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  3. gatorjjh

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

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    Fighting a 2 pronged battle, sounds like the mental is at least for now the tougher of the 2, I would think your PT coach can help with some of that, moving you along with small steps. I am glad you are using your limited strength to work with your plants, I know when I have had to recover from illness or surgery my time with plants always lifted my spirits, I hope it works that way for you. Our Lantana is growing and blooming, early this spring we decided to train one plant into a small tree/shrub, it is now 4 feet tall :) blooming nicely. Our Butterfly weed and other plants a keeping the yard buzzing with hummingbirds battling each other and butterflies flitting, one of my favorites is the Iron Weed both regular and giant grow around our property and we have transplanted a few near the house, it is a Florida native species tall and has a great colorful tasselly bloom, I am awful at posting pictures but in your down time look it up on your PC or phone, it should grow well where you are situated. Last week I transplanted a dozen Coral Bean plants I started from seed, another Fl native with a great bloom that attracts hummers and butterflies, the plant is poisonous as are the beans/seed it produces. It grows wild on our property so I have transplanted a few and their seeds have germinated easily, depending on the ages of your grandkids it might or might not be a good plant for your yard. I hope the plant therapy can work for you like it does for me... be patient and as always regards to @g8rtrucker as well
     
  4. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    Thanks, @gatorjjh . I don't have a way to post pictures to the site but there are still pictures of our patio, backyard with rock wall and the distant view on a local real estate site. They were taken last summer when the previous owner put the house up for sale, so now the patio looks a little different with our furniture in the space and my newly potted plants sitting around in the sunny spots. The trumpet vine was in full bloom, as it is now, growing on the fence I share with neighbor Kellie. For perspective, the privacy fence is 8 feet tall, and the rock wall is taller than Trucker, more than 10 feet in one area.

    [​IMG]

    I'll post more views on subsequent posts
     
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  5. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    [​IMG]

    Looking towards the house with a view of the Colorado National Monument in the distance.
     
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  6. gatorjjh

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

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    envious of your rock wall, no such critters here in NCFla, plenty of clay and lime rock
     
  7. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    Another view of the Monument and the ridge where the gnomes are attached to trees at the top of the ridge to the left of a barely visible water tower.. Ridge is about 1/2 mile away from house and Monument is about a mile and a half or 2 miles away. Entrance to the Park is about 3 miles from our house.

    Behind the photographer is a steep hill dotted with old Cottonwood trees. It's known as Easter Hill. No idea why. I've no pictures of it.

    [​IMG]


    The summit elevation of the Monument is 7000 feet, not as high or cool as the Grand Mesa on the other side of the valley.

    I found pictures of some of the neighborhood gnomes. They can be seen at this link:
    grand junction Easter Hill - Google Search:

    I also learned the carver is now deceased, so there will be no additions to the collection. He was a local artist and some of his work is in the local museum.

    And another bit of trivia. Doc Holliday is buried in GJ. He died in a TB sanatorium in Glenwood Springs, about 100 miles from here.
     
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  8. wrpgator

    wrpgator GC Hall of Fame

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    Wonderful!
     
  9. wrpgator

    wrpgator GC Hall of Fame

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    You turn a wonderful phrase Lacuna. Thanks for sharing. You have a gift--the ability to paint a beautiful picture through descriptive prose. Your style reminds me of Marjorie Rawlings.
     
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  10. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    Thank you, wrp. You pay me the nicest possible compliment. I think I have read almost everything MKR wrote and published. Having spent countless hours and days in Cross Creek as a kid, I especially appreciate and love her views of the Creek and its residents. Back then I knew a few of the several she wrote about 10 years earlier in Cross Creek. Her descriptive portraits, capturing their personalities, fit to a T.

    My dad told me the woman, Zelma Cason, who sued Rawlings for invasion of privacy, was his 2nd cousin. Can't speak for others, but my father spoke of his cousin's attempt with derision (Cason won her suit but Rawlings was only forced to pay One Dollar of the $100,000 damages Cason had asked).

    WRP, I was grateful to read your previous posts speaking of your 2 cancers. When you wrote it took you months to regain your strength, I was just ending my radiation and had been told I would begin to feel better in 3 to 4 weeks, as do most post chemo/radiation patients. I was sorry to read of your prolonged recovery. You are the strong one, and I treasure your encouragement, my friend. So far my recovery has been 2 steps forward, 1 1/2 steps back. But overall, though close, almost imperceptible, I do sense improvement.

    If you want to share more of your recovery experience, I would like to read whatever you might want to share. Did you find it had an effect on your faith, as to shake it or confirm it? My illnesses have been catalysts in affirming my own.
     
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  11. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    Last week I ended post 77 with, "I am happy to be here to enjoy and have the pleasant challenge of learning to live in this fabulous new place. It's life affirming." The reasons for the last sentence stretch back to May, 2016 and the suicide deaths of a couple we had known for more than 12 years.

    We first met Jean and Joe at the opening game of the 2003 football season when they occupied seats next to ours in the newly opened Champion's Club section in the renovated / expanded west stands of Ben Hill Griffin. Good fortune placed us together. They had previously watched the home games from seats in the Touchdown Terrace but moved to the Champion's Club upon its completion. We had a number of seats scattered around the stadium and were grateful to finally have all of them together. Bonus was having them next to Jean and Joe.

    Trucker soon learned Joe was a golfer and they lived in an adjacent neighborhood off Williston Road next to ours. Trucker played golf 4 or 5 times a week with a group of men who called themselves 'The Throw Ups.' Ostensibly the name was a play on their method of selection for their foursomes. Before their standing 10 am tee time each golfer would place a ball into a basket that would then have its contents tossed up and wherever they landed would determine who played with whom on any given day.

    Joe was not part of the Throw Up contingent. He played with another group of men who had an earlier 8 am tee time. Jean and Joe occupied their CC seats for only one season before they decided they like the Touchdown Terrace seats better and moved back. We missed them but their seats went to two older men who reminded me of the Muppets Statler and Waldorf.

    We saw J and J from time to time at parties and other Club events we attended. The early morning group of golfers Joe played with stopped playing and Joe joined the Throw Ups. I got to know Jean a little better and learned she was a talented artist who had a variety of ailments, including osteoporosis and thyroid cancer, that had robbed her of much of her abundant vitality. Her voice was reduced to a raspy whisper, but her love of life and the constant support of her adoring Joe was there, and that kept her going through the pain of falls, fractures, and cancer. Jean was a lovely woman, her natural beauty only slightly dimmed by her illnesses and advancing years. Joe was her match in every way, tall and handsome, and physically active. The 2 of them were 10 years older than Trucker and me, but as active and engaged as a pair of 50 somethings when Jean's health allowed.

    The 2 of them had met as students at U F in the fifties. They married young, like us, and had 3 sons. One of them played football for the Gators in the 70's. They lived and raised their sons in Miami until they retired and moved to Monticello where they had a ranch for a few years. Jean's deteriorating health led them to sell the ranch and move back to Gainesville, to be closer to Jean's doctors and the Shands healthcare system. They built a home in Savannah Pointe and lived there until her worsening condition led them to move to Oak Hammock and access to its 24 / 7 assistance. Joe developed a problem with his shoulder that curtailed his golf and we rarely saw them. Mutual friends who lived at Oak Hammock informed us Jean's health had deteriorated even more.

    The circumstances were sad, but yet so like them. Not wanting the residents or staff of Oak Hammock to be burdened with finding and dealing with their bodies, they got into their car and drove to a cemetery on the outskirts of Gainesville where they shot themselves in their car. We never learned the particulars of who shot whom, only that they left 3 notes. One was a note of apology to the person who found them after their acts of suicide were complete. The second was to the authorities forced to deal with what they did, explaining their reasons, that neither of them were forced by the other. The 3rd note was for their sons.

    News of their deaths reverberated through our community of friends, shocking us all out of our comfortable complacency. Even though Jean's worsening health was well known, no one I knew, certainly not Trucker and I, anticipated they would choose to end their lives this way. It led to a number of conversations and discussions between us and other neighbors as to what it takes to drive a person to take their own life or a suicidal pact. Having not walked in the shoes of another, one cannot know, one cannot judge.

    I told Trucker I wanted to do something that would affirm our lives, our continued existence. We needed to make changes. Patient man that he is, he listened to me and agreed. For years we had put off making needed changes, alterations and improvements to our home. We loved our house and its location on a fairway of the country club, though we hated the popcorn ceilings and the outdated kitchen. The home's size and one story layout suited us and it was spacious enough to accommodate family when they visited. There was room on the backside of the house to increase the size of our 1967 era master bath and bring the laundry room to that side of the house from where it was next to the kitchen on the other side. Doing all we wanted to do would cause great disruption and we had put off doing it, not wanting to deal with the chaos the renovation would certainly entail. But now the time had come. Continue to live in a home that did not fully satisfy, or accept the challenge of making the house into what we envisioned, affirming our need to improve the home we intended to live in the rest of our lives. We made preliminary plans, expecting the work to begin the following spring after drawing up a budget and finding a competent and reliable contractor.

    Health worsened for me and Trucker's trick knee required surgery that spoiled his golf for a time. The Throw Up group dwindled in numbers as his golfing buddies had health issues of their own. There were other deaths to bring the number of golfers down and it wasn't very long before the number of regulars went from an average o 12 to 3, maybe 5 on a good day. Death and attrition does not affirm life.

    Thanksgiving that year was at our younger son's home in Austin. Daughter also lives there so between the two households all 14 members of our families were accommodated for that joyous celebration. The kids took the opportunity to tell us they wanted us to leave Florida and move closer to them. They didn't care which state we chose to move, though all 3 told us we would be most welcome in their city, they wanted us closer to at least one of the families as we were aging and they were concerned for us. This took Trucker and me by surprise, We had never considered leaving our home, still entertaining plans to begin the renovations 3 or 4 months later. We had known couples who 'followed' their adult children around, moving to where the kids and grand kids had moved. To that point we had no intention of making a similar move. It did not often work out well or as planned. People can take other jobs requiring a change in location. We had seen failures and disappointments.

    But this was different. All kids were well established in professions that would not require a move unless they wanted to make it, and all are quite happy with where they are. Trucker and I discussed the kid's proposition on our drive back to Florida after Thanksgiving, mostly saying how nice it was that all 3 families want us closer to them, how good it was to have family that cared enough to be concerned for our well being and to want us living closer to them. Then thinking it was a pipe dream, we shelved the idea, only bringing it out for discussion now and then. After a while the idea began to grow on us and we saw the advantages to making the move. And the challenges and difficulties.

    We had lived in our home almost 17 years, longer than we had lived any other place in our marriage. It was home. The return to Gainesville in May of 2000 was a return to our roots. I was born in Gainesville and Trucker's roots in the city went almost as deep as my own. Though our friends dwindled in number and other difficulties brought other dissatisfaction, we thought our remaining years would be spent in the city where we began our life together. Our attitudes changed as we encouraged each other and discussed where we should move. This was a more difficult decision than anticipated. There were advantages and disadvantages to both Austin and Colorado. Two adult children and 3 grand kids in Austin. One adult child and 3 grand kids in GJ. Traffic and humidity in Austin or the slower pace of a drier climate in Colorado. A clear winner there. After months of indecision, twice changing our minds, we decided on Grand Junction and informed our children last summer.

    We originally planned to move west in the spring or summer of 2019, but after watching the trends in rising market prices in Grand Junction real estate, we decided to look for a house while visiting our elder son and family out here last summer. We found this house, made a bid on it before it was lost to us, and carried 2 mortgages for 2 months. Our return to Gainesville in late summer had us hitting the ground on a run to accomplish all we needed to do to ready the Gainesville house for sale, dispose of all we did not want to move, and arrange for the move. There was much to do and the schedule was crushing.

    In the end all we had intended to do was done, and in early December, bundled against the cold, suffering from pneumonia and veiled behind the tears that always come with a long distance move, we watched the moving van depart Gainesville with virtually everything we owned. We chucked our complacency and affirmed whatever years granted to us and moved into our future.


    After nearly 59 years of marriage, Joe and Jean Subers die together
     
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  12. gatorjjh

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

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    very well put @lacuna a very close friend, one I cared about deeply for years took her own life, it was devastating for all who knew her and a true loss to the Gvl community, you think you know but you don't know how even those close to you truly get through their days and nights... thank you for a beautiful story
     
  13. defensewinschampionships

    defensewinschampionships GC Hall of Fame

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    So mom has elected for a double mastectomy, rather than a single. She has cancer in two lymph nodes right next to the breast. After that, it seems chemo is the next step. Her spirits are high, and I got my stubborn streak from her, not dad. She is determined to see my three year old son’s wedding, and the hopes of a great grand-daughter.

    I don’t mean to hijack your thread Lacuna, it is just therapeutic for me to share. Let me know when I step out of bounds.
     
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  14. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    Thank you for your participation and contributions to the thread. When I started it I hoped people would interact with me, comment and contribute, so you are absolutely doing what I wanted.

    Stay in frequent touch with her and send her words and messages of encouragement and hope. My younger son sends me funny memes and links to things that make me laugh. Pictures of his kids, too. Spend time with her when you can, speak with her frequently on the phone if visits aren't possible. I love having face time with my family that lives in Austin. Next best thing to being with them. It all helps.

    Do you have brothers or sisters? The best thing in the world is having all my family together. We had our entire family together last year to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary and we are having another reunion this August when the Austin families will be here for 4 or 5 days. The 2 older Grand Junction kids had planned on attending sleep away camp that week, but when they found out their Austin aunts, uncles, and cousins are going to be here they cancelled those plans to stay in town. Family is that important to all of us.

    Show her you love her; make her laugh. And one last secret ~ when it is your birthday, send her a bouquet of her favorite flowers and thank her for bringing you into the world. You will make her cry with happiness.
     
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  15. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo GC Hall of Fame

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    Lacuna, I hadn't visited the Pub in ages. Came today to post about a movie, and saw this thread. Wishing you all the best.
     
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  16. defensewinschampionships

    defensewinschampionships GC Hall of Fame

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    I’m an only child, but we live 20 minutes away and we see them for dinner once per week. They are also accustomed to keeping my son twice a week, which obviously will have to ease up, but she is surrounded by family, including her sister and both parents who are elderly but still living. She has a wonderful support system, a fighting spirit, and a praying church. I’m definitely going to do the flowers on my birthday-what a wonderful suggestion
     
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  17. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    I had the long awaited PET scan Wednesday afternoon. It was a bit like opening Schrodinger's Cat. In some ways my fate is decided, in others there are options and possibilities unknown to me, and the PET at his moment seems designed to look into a box I don't know I want to look into...

    Trucker and I meet with Frageelee tomorrow morning to find out what it revealed.

    The facts, Ma'am, just the facts.
    I'll take the moment, Alex.

    Life is enthralling, captivating. It simultaneously and paradoxically tenderly embraces, teaches, and encourages me while it cruelly clutches and restrains. Closer to the end of my life than the beginning I am content as I live and reciprocally embrace the time remaining with unanticipated intensity never before experienced, while burdened with unrelieved physical challenges that at odd times, overwhelm.

    Last week, in addition to the cancer, the further deterioration of my neurological disorder and the restless leg ( not sure I previously mentioned that one hanging around since 1990), on top of all of that - the hearing in my right ear turned itself off. Over the course of 2 days it >95% disappeared. It has been a profoundly consciousness altering experience, teaching me unexpected things about my perception of sound and source, things that would remain unknown in less physically stressful times.

    I make and take of my life as given to me. Every moment, whatever it brings, is a gift of promise and potential, bringing and revealing things worth knowing, experiences worth having. The physical limitations laid on me physically slow and exhaust me, while the timetable of the train of time relentlessly pushes. Whatever the schedule, slow or not, it allows, permits, even as it encourages, excuses me to take time to smell the roses calling out to be smelled along the way.

    Would I be so keenly inclined if my physical condition allowed me to be more active and less introspective? Or does it do more than simply permit it? Without the deterioration in my health would I be the person I am? I am where I am meant to be, where I am intended to be.

    ...or not to be,
    that is the question.

    Einstein once said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
    The diminished timetable necessitates prioritizing whatever time remains. I'm good with that. Time has too much value to be squandered in pursuits not worth having, accumulated like junk collected by distracted children. Though one man's trash is another man's treasure.

    I will not judge. These are things I seek to understand.
     
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  18. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    Thank you, Coco. Always wanted to stop by and visit with you when I drove through your town on the way to St Augustine. Never got back that way again. Now we've traded the beaches of Florida for the mountains of Colorado...

    Keep coming back to the Pub. We're all friends amusing and supporting each other...appreciating your participation.
     
  19. lacuna

    lacuna The Conscience of Too Hot Moderator VIP Member

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    REMISSION !!!

    The Beast is no longer squatting within me. The radiation shrank it into oblivion. Frageelee still wants me to have at least 6 months of immunotherapy as the cancer had metastasized from the original site and it is possible there are small, virtually invisible cells in hiding as before. She said if there are, the immunotherapy will eliminate, or greatly diminish the threat of the Beast re-establishing itself within me.

    We went in to see her this morning hoping for the best, prepared for the worst. Now I am overcome with gratitude at this time and have but one more word ~ Hallelujah !!!



    But to add ~ Trucker joins me in thanking all of you for your prayers and expressions of concern.
     
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  20. gatorjjh

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

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    Hip, Hip Hooray for Lacuna & for Trucker as well.................. and for we Pubsters
     
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