Bill’s Tale of Two Cancers #12

When I got out of the hospital following the stem cell transplant, I had the house to myself for a couple of days because Caroline and the kids were away camping, thinking I’d be in for at least two or three more days. When I got dropped off I was so happy to be back in my own home that I went around the place room by room, kissing the walls, floors and pretty much every surface with which I came into contact, much like somebody who has been held hostage might do after landing back in their own country.

Then I put on some coffee, rolled a joint and sat on my back deck and sat looking at the thousand shades of green in the trees and plants in my backyard and literally smelling the chlorophyl being produced by photosynthesis. It was a beautiful early fall day and after being in the dreariest environment for the previous two weeks I began to feel myself relax as my senses took in the simple lushness of my surroundings, tears streaming down my face as the stress began to release itself from my mind and body. Once the (chosen) drugs kicked in and the tears stopped, I allowed myself a smile, and as I lay back on the deck and looked at the blue, blue sky through a tangle of branches and leaves of a big old maple tree the enormity of what I had just made it through began to sink in, I finally let myself think about just how terrifying the previous weeks had been and how the summer leading up to the transplant had been one constant circus of appointments, procedures and travel.

Then I fell asleep.

When I woke up a couple of hours later, I had some more coffee and a cigarette and wandered into the studio for a look at what I had on the go. During the summer I had finished a few paintings that I’d had to abandon earlier in the year, not knowing when I might get back to it. I actually got a fair bit done during the summer, considering how busy it had been with all things medical, but now I had no idea what to paint or where to start, and I had more to come on the treatment front, so I resolved to just take it as it came as far as work went. Then I went inside and curled up in my own bed for one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had.

When I woke up in the morning I was feeling well rested and in need of a bit of conversation, so I decided to take my bike and ride to the cafe for a coffee and to see a few people. Bad idea. It’s only about a mile ride, but by the time I got there, I was ready for another full nights’ rest. I was flabbergasted at how little strength or stamina I had left, even though I should have known full well that I shouldn’t have been anywhere near my bike or any physically taxing activity, but being a taurus I wouldn’t allow myself to think of myself as anything other than my normal self. Needless to say, my presence at the cafe made heads turn, and I was greeted so very warmly that it almost made the ride worth the effort, but even so, I lasted maybe a half hour before somebody kindly offered to drive me home again.

Then it was time for a nap and then a day spent sitting out back taking in the scenery and reading the paper to get caught up on life in the outside world.

The absolute best, though, came the following day when Caroline and the kids got back from their camping trip. Talk about being embraced by love, joy, wonder and relief by and for all of us…..I think we all were as glad to be past the scariest part of the treatment plan that we were giddy in the way normally reserved for newlyweds. My favourite memory is of the four of us just laying on our bed and sharing one big family size embrace, soaking up each other, knowing we were going to be okay and that whatever else came our way would be easier to deal with than what had already transpired.

Normally the doctors give a patient three months to recover from the effects of the stem cell transplant before proceding with radiation but in my case they didn’t want to give the cancer any chance to come back, so we made the decision to begin the next phase of treatments after four to five weeks rest. It was certainly nice to have a break from the daily grind of appointments and such, and I spent that time getting back into the rhythms of life at home, making lunch for the kids to take to school and walking together on the way to school in the morning, doing a bit of house work during the day, basically just enjoying the simple pleasures in everyday family life.

I did have one appointment in Toronto during this period, a meeting with my radiation oncologist to have a tiny tattoo put on my back to mark the spot for the technicians to use as a target for the ensuing treatments and to discuss the nature and effects of radiation therapy and to set the schedule that would become a four week routine of five sessions per week of treatments. Compared with what I had come through so far, it sounded like a walk in the park.


~ by Rocky Green on June 5, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: