The time will come

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Not many people have seen me in the past two or three weeks. If you had, you'd probably say, "Derek doesn't look so good." And you'd be right. After the high point of my living wake early in March, I took a turn downhill.

Soon enough, I found it difficult to get myself out of the house for such simple tasks as walking our dog Lucy. Right now I don't have the strength to do even that, and I don't feel comfortable driving anymore either. Going out for dinner with the family, or friends? Out of the question.

A drag of a morning

Here, for example, was how a series of simple tasks went this morning. I dragged myself out of bed (a pure mind-over-matter exercise against my body), put on my bathrobe and slippers, and had Lucy come with me. I opened our back door so she could go out in the yard, and I followed her. Half-way down the back steps I had to sit down on the stairs: I didn't have the energy to get all the way down to the back yard in one go.

A few minutes later I managed it, walking down the rest of the steps and into the yard, and sat on our lawn chair while Lucy ran around and did her usual doggy business. Ten minutes later it was time to go back inside. I propped the chair up again the wall of the house and walked, very slowly, back around the side of the house, up the stairs, and into the kitchen. Where I promptly had to sit down again on the first chair I could grab.

I had planned to make myself a bowl of corn flakes, but such a simple task seemed daunting. Instead I went to lie down in bed for 15 minutes to recover, after which I was able to prepare the cereal—but before I was able to eat it, I puked in the sink. Afterwards, the cereal went down fine, and I followed it with a Ritalin, which I hoped might push me into the realm of "not completely exhausted" later in the day.

A slightly better afternoon

Sitting up in bed, I browsed a few websites and listened to CBC Radio. At some point I nodded off for half an hour while my wife and kids were out looking for paint colours for the kitchen. But I did wake up feeling perkier. Right now I'm on the back porch typing this in the vaguely-warm spring sunshine, with the dog once again snuffling about. I feel like a tired but functional version of myself, rather than the depleted and worn-out lump I did this morning.

I saw my family doctor yesterday, and he told me that is the pattern for cancer patients: the two major debilitating symptoms are pain and fatigue, and my pain is under reasonable control. He encouraged me to move around as much as I can—which is what I was trying to do during my sit-on-the-stairs experience today—and to keep my mind active. At my lowest, sometimes that in itself can be difficult.

I wonder how long it will be before I can no longer walk unassisted? Before I can't make a sandwich? Before I'm pretty much bedridden? No one knows the answers, not my doctors, not me, but the time will come. That's scary.

31 Comments

I can not imagine. I went through this with my parents where you try and wrap your head around it, but it have to actually go through it? :'(

Although I've never met you, I think you're an amazing man. Your family is proud, I do not doubt that.

Sending you good vibes and strength to do the simplest of tasks that your heart desires.

xoxoxo

Derek, I want to thank you for your honesty in your blogging over the last years. And I want to thank you for continuing to post even though that must be tiring too.

There are many of us quietly reading, attending and thinking of you as you travel this difficult path.

Regards,

Miraz

This reminds me of things I've lived with in the past, it's a tough time for everyone. I think your writing outlet is powerful, and I think others will see their experiences in yours.

I'm glad you can find the strength to continue sharing this. Hugs.

You're doing everything I think writing should be -- truth, therapy, journaling, a record, a link between us all. And on a topic so many of us have been affected by. Thanks, Derek.

And I (have always) love(d) your verify-you're-human requirement. Viva, Vancouver.

I don't know what to say, Derek. It makes me so sad that you're going through all of this.

Shit. Love to read you. Hate what cancer is doing to your body.

agree 100% with Erika

This does suck, but I am happy you were able to get outside and some fresh air with the pooch

Derek, i am yet another person quietly listening to your very important, honest and powerfully touching posts. Thank you for gathering the physical and emotional strength to share with all of us what this is like. A powerful reminder to quit bitching about the 20 lbs we can't lose or the work that is boring us. You are giving us an honest no holds barred glimpse into what we all may very well face at end of life. It is heartbreaking and real, and you are touching/reaching many people.

Chelsea - thank you for putting into words exactly how I was feeling. Derek, bless you and your family.

Chelsea put it so eloquently. And just as Samantha noted in her comment, I too have been through this with a parent but cannot contemplate what it must be like to be going through it myself. Thank you fornsharing your story.

Add me to the chorus of people who are grateful and deeply touched by your unflinching honesty. I wish I had more to offer you than just bearing witness - if there is anything at all you need, I hope you will ask.

xo my friend

I simply have to echo the words that others before me have written. Your honesty, positive attitude, sheer will are powers to be reckoned with. I salute you Mr. Miller, my heart goes out to you and your family as you travel this journey. Hugs to all of you.

Maybe this is temporary. This could be a bug that will go away and you'll feel better once it does. Just try to hang in there until this phase passes and you start feeling better. I worry that if you think this is another step closer to death, then it will be. I don't know you personally but you always seem positive, and your family seems like positive minded people. Lately, you don't seem as positive. I could be just reading you wrong. But, even though I think that it would be next to impossible to keep your chin up while going through this hell, you've always seemed to manage to do just that. So please don't give up. I don't know anything and I have no right to say anything about your situation, but I read every blog you write and I just don't want you to die. I want everything to be okay.

your courage and willingness to share your struggles are a beacon to us all. You stay in our thoughts and prayers man.

Hello Derek, I so admire your spirit my friend. Thanks for continuing to share your journey. I think of you often.

This certainly does suck. We are thinking of you, Derek. xo

Glad your pain is at least under control, hope you're still able to get some enjoyment out of life.

In my thoughts too...and your lovely wife and daughters as well. This journey belongs to all of you, thanks for sharing your courage...you are inspiriational Derek!

Sending you lots of love Derek.

No words here. Makes me so sad, but so proud and lucky to know you and count you as a friend. Your courage is just amazing. xx

Derek, you're an incredible music artist and a pretty darn good writer, too. I remember asking to use some of your instrumental tracks in my video blog, back before YouTube was a twinkle in our eyes. Keep on keeping on, and we'll all be along with you for the ride. :)

Many people who write on blogs tend to present a face, most are intellectually dishonest. I admire your very real writing, your courage, your positivity. Don't know anyone in my culture who would be able to face life with so much guts, so much forthrightness, matter--of-factness and humanity. Salut!

So hard. Thanks for sharing your struggles. I appreciate being able to read about it even though it's hard to read about even for me as reasonably healthy person who does not know you except through twitter and your blog. I also realize how silly that sounds given I'm not actually going through it, you are. Anyway, thank you.

Derek,
You don't know me and I don't know you - not other than having randomly found your site.

Believe it or not, in my evening procrastination, I happened to google "random" and came across a web site that links to different random websites (for other procrastinators like myself I suppose).

The first website that was selected happened to be your blog.

Here is the strange part as I would not normally email such sites. I am in the pharmaceutical field and as a side project was asked to do some content writing for a website that is being constructed for an oncology practice in New York city called Bruckner Oncology.

In speaking with patients, there have been some great stories of the innovative chemotherapeutic treatments that Dr. Bruckner (a 40+ year veteran) has administered. In simplest terms - he mixes cocktails of low doses of different cancer drugs to enable better outcomes (hopefully) to difficult-to-treat cancers.

I am so sorry for your struggles. I was born the same year as you. I also have 2 kids and am a frustrated musician (piano - hence the email address - a reference to a REM song). I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight with at least reaching out.

If you would like me to put you in touch with one of the two physicians at Bruckner Oncology, please let me know. I am happy to do so.

My wishes and thoughts are with you and your family,
Marc

Thanks for your openness, and honesty, Derek. Thinking of you and yours.... peace and love to you...

Lots of love going out to you all.

I wish I didn't know this from experience, but the body betrays. There are pockets of improvement in the midst of the decline. People want to believe in miracles and not deal in the realities but I'm glad you're telling it like it is, not just the positives.

My husband wrote in his blog up to a week before the end.

http://aviatordave.blogspot.com/

I'm grateful for every word he wrote.

I wish you peace and comfort and all the junk food you can handle.

Hi Derek,
You also don't know me personally, but I originally started listening to Airdrie's podcast 'Lipgloss and Laptops'. During that time I came to know more about you and your family and listening to Airdrie was always a comfort to me. Listening to her describe you made me think you must be a wonderful, caring husband and father. I've followed your blog as well as Airdrie's and feel like I sort of know you both in a way, and just wanted to say that you and your family are truly in my thoughts practically every day and I just wanted to let you know. Strange as it may be having never met, I wanted to send you and your family my very best and hope that you are doing as well as can be expected. Love, from Oregon.

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