This has been a week for patience – and I suspect is going to be a preparation for several similar ones as we move into a Chemotherapy regime.
As mentioned last week, there was one late shock as the respiratory doctor bowed out, handing us over to the oncology/haematology team. He admitted he had thought that he was going to be telling us I ‘only had weeks’ when he had believed I had lung cancer: but with it being a lymphoma, there is a good chance of ultimate recovery (although it would always be referred to as ‘in remission’), both reminders of our mortality and vulnerability. Interestingly, Pam had already intuited that the respiratory doctor had been thinking along those very bleak lines, whereas I had been blithely (not sure that really is the right word) thinking in terms of a few years. So, in this, a sharp reminder of just how hard this sort of path is for a spouse or a partner who truly cares for their ‘other-half’.
Now, over to the oncology clinic and a minor shock of a different kind. The clinic was awash with people of all adult ages and stages: young women with scarves on their heads, elderly folk looking battered and scared, middle aged people with multiple tattoos and rings (Oh dear! I really doneed to take a check on my prejudices! I’m going to be sharing facilities with many of this group for some long weeks ahead); they treat 4000 new cases every year! But in all of this we realise again just how fortunate we are to be so close to such a well resourced hospital and also realize how often this disease visits much younger people: people who have to balance their treatment with demanding jobs and people with children to tend to and cope with the children’s fears as well as their own. A prayer-in-every-chair, it seemed to me.
Thankfully this week of waiting is not one of complete inaction. In order to get me as well prepared for the chemotherapy as possible, I was put straight on to a daily dose of steroids and in just a few days that has brought relief from the presenting symptoms of acute coughing and low energy. Two mile walks have suddenly become practicable (delightful to walk by the river again) and my appetite has improved significantly: the wonders of modern medicine! More to be thankful for.
But the other part of this week is the not knowing. I guess most of us find that one of the hardest times of life. When will the chemo start? Friday or next week? How to plan this weekend; how will I react to the chemo? How necessary might the emergency card I’ve been given be – am I really likely to succumb to a sepsis? How will my appetite ebb and flow, if it does? Problems for Pam and me to share and another pause to reflect on what a lonely road this must be for single people to tread.
Then there is the literature – a folder full of several books mainly from cancer charities and SO-O-O much information to try and take in. How difficult for the not-particularly articulate? And hiding in amongst all that, a recommendation to take up or revive a hobby to give purpose to the possibly gruelling way ahead. This for me, not difficult: I will continue to pen as many verses as I can – and that, I will enjoy unless my brain is so addled, which I understand happens to some chemo patients. Another unknown.
So one of the lessons has to be to live each day for itself and rejoice in those that are good. In the night, the steroids (I assume) woke me suddenly in the early hours. An opportunity to edit a seasonal poem I jotted last week and once again in thanksgiving mode, I end this journal-style entry with it. We will, of course, continue to value your prayers – thank you again to so very many of you.
Sun emerging from an autumn mist
slants across fine gossamer weavings
that bedeck the window pane.
The angle of the shafts of the sun
and the seat from which I gaze
Is accidentally perfect;
for each near-parallel thread
an exquisitely fine spectrum.
A Spider’s overnight endeavours
delicately revealing the complexity
of our star’s life-giving, visible rays,
and I give thanks.
It is not my intention these journal-style entries should become frequent bulletins: I will try to record only the more significant times – and in between simply share some of my more ‘normal-style’ poetry with its usual 1 to 3 week frequency.