My last year

| 6 Comments | No TrackBacks

It's an odd thing, looking out on what will probably be my last year. On television news shows yesterday, reporters were asking people about their resolutions, their hopes and dreams, their expectations for 2011. If I'd been one of those men on the street (though I wasn't feeling well enough to be on the street), my answer wouldn't have been what the TV crews were expecting.

"Hmm," I'd have said. "I have terminal cancer. So my hopes are that my wife and kids get through this year okay, because I'll likely be dead by the end of it."

Chances are indeed very strong that I won't be alive to write a new year's post in January 2012. The cancer's moving too fast for that. And the past few days, I've really been feeling it, physically. Through our Christmas events, a family holiday in Victoria, and especially yesterday, New Year's Eve, I felt crappy, weak, gassy, in pain.

Now, everyone feels ill from time to time. My wife and daughters were sick too, with my 12-year-old, Marina, even getting a throat infection while we were on Vancouver Island. But what's different when I feel ill is that I always have to wonder: will I get better?

Today I am feeling a lot better, so far, and I hope it persists. I slept in late (a good sign, meaning I didn't wake up early needing morphine), took the dog out in the yard, had some coffee, and now here I am feeling energized to write something, which certainly wasn't true yesterday. Today's plans include taking down the Christmas tree and setting up the massive electric slot-car racetrack my wife bought me, which has been half-assembled for a week.

Eventually, though, I'll get sick and feel bad, and it won't improve—not enough. Part of my mind is always watching out for it. The cough that doesn't subside. The aches that my current medication won't address. I've never been prone to clinical depression, but I also have to keep an eye out for that, because it runs in my family and could generate fatigue and hopelessness too—but it could be treated if I get it.

I'm already considerably weaker than I was for our trip to Disneyland in July, or my jaunt to Gnomedex in August. I've lost a lot of weight, which I'm finding hard to regain, and I find the prospect of driving myself down Interstate 5 for a few hours nearly impossible to imagine.

But, compared to yesterday, when I couldn't see myself going to the grocery store, or walking the dog around the block, or hauling the Christmas decorations downstairs—well, compared to that, I'm much improved. There are little tipping points everywhere, and my family and I never know when I've crossed them permanently. Not yet, anyway.

6 Comments

Hi, what can I say. Obviously nothing can make you feel better. Telling you there is someone out there worse than you never really worked out for me either but from someone who has a medical condition and been "close to the light" a few times I can say there are others who know a bit how you feel. I could say count your blessings, not with a mind to you thinking how lucky you are but just counting the ones you are lucky enough to still have some left to experience them.

I really can't say much more than that but just want to say thanks for the inspiration, I am off to my garage to assemble that slot car set I have never got around to assembling, heck, I may even get that old train set out too.

I look forward to being with you and your thoughts every day. Thank you for sharing some of your remaining energy with the vastness we know as blogdom. You are an inspiration. We are lucky to have you every day that you are here.

Would a little more alfredo sauce help with the weight gain? I happen to have a great recipe.

You are an inspiration. You're just going with the flow, which amazes me. And I feel guilty about how much I look forward to hearing from you.

I have mixed emotions about writing this comment. I added you on Facebook quite awhile ago after seeing your video about cancer on youtube. I have always felt weird about contacting you and talking about it because I know how personal my own struggle with cancer has been. I rarely talk about it and never post about it on Facebook anymore. I have always struggled with the well intentioned sentiments that people express. There seems to be no sure way to avoid awkwardness.

The point is, though that I do want to say that I follow your posts and I find a strange sense of comfort in them. And I don't even "know" you. I have outlasted the estimate of my doctors by three years now. The tumor isn't shrinking but it has slowed down. The end result will remain the same, though.
The only differences being time, quality of life, and my attitude.
Who knows what will come next, for either one of us, but one of the things that I did learn from reading your blog and Facebook posts was that being realistic doesn't have to mean that I cannot appreciate the experience of living.
When I saw your video it was at a time when I had locked myself away from everything. I had not left the house in eight months and I had every intention of dying as soon as I possibly could.
I cannot pinpoint any one thing you said that helped me regain an interest in living. Mostly it was the little things. Talking about your family. Talking about getting up the energy to take the dog out for a walk. And when you wrote about getting your online affairs in order. You have always been more candid about your cancer than I have ever had the courage to be. You talked about things that I went through. Thoughts I had. And yet you still managed to make the most of the time you had left.
Either way, I just felt the need to tell you that I owe you my gratitude. To think of all of the things I would have missed if I had not watched your video that day. My life is so different now.

Thank you Derek.

Best wishes to you and yours.

Wes

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://www.penmachine.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/175