May 5th: A Day's Entry in My Cancer Journal
When battling any cancer, close support of others is so important, and for me keeping a journal about my experiences has been therapeutic. A recent editorial on PC.net motivated me to share the following entry from my daily cancer journal.
Entry: Wednesday, 5 May, 2021, 11:30 AM, EDT
Having a 9:00 AM appointment with the urologist’s office today, I left the house earlier than usual, about 8:30. I took my bottle of water I normally drink in preparation for my 10:30 RT appointment with me. The patient portal had indicated my urology appointment today was for labs. When I was called back to the exam room, I was surprised to see the nurse standing there with an already prepared syringe for the Firmagon injection I had originally been scheduled to receive today.
Cardiovascular side effects of treatment
I explained to her I had discussed the cardiovascular side effects with my cardiologist and my radiation oncologist weeks before. It was agreed I should not receive any further Firmagon injections because of the rather severe CV side effects I had been experiencing. My oncologist was okay with me stopping it, saying national guidelines call for four to six months ADT along with radiation. Since I had already had four months of ADT, it would have no negative impact on the outcome for me to cease taking it now. I’ve done my time!
The nurse seemed a little perplexed and at a loss of what to do since the very expensive injection must be mixed just prior to use, and this dose would have to be discarded and go to waste. She left the room and came back momentarily after speaking with the doctor and said it was fine. There had apparently been a disconnect in communication between the oncologist’s office and theirs.
It was no fault of mine she consoled. I felt bad they would have to just throw the expensive medication away. I don’t know who will eat the cost for it, but there was no way I was going to subject myself to another dose now. The cardiovascular side effects seemed to have increased with each successive dose, and I am extremely happy to be done with it.
Loneliness of cancer
After leaving the urologist’s office, I had about an hour to kill before my RT appointment, so I stopped at Burger King to get a bite to supplement the small slice of coffee cake I had consumed with my morning cup. I went inside to order, but by the time my order was ready, my knee pain was beginning to become almost intolerable again. I took my breakfast croissant and drove back to the oncology center to eat it in the parking lot and drink my water to prepare for my RT session.
Sitting there enjoying the sunshine and fresh spring air while I ate, I was able to forget my pain for the moment. I watched mostly elderly couples coming and going from the oncology and surgery centers, leaning upon and supporting one another. One elderly woman was helping her even more elderly husband from a wheelchair to the car. In one split second, I went from blue-sky happy to sudden, almost overwhelming grief. Since the day I first learned I likely had cancer, the absolute worst part of this entire experience has been going it alone without my life’s partner to accompany me through it.
How I wished I had someone to drop me at the door today so I wouldn’t have to hobble alone from the handicapped parking spot to the entrance. How I wished I had someone to bring me that meal to my living room recliner so I wouldn’t have to prepare my own, even though I CAN do it for myself. How I wished I had someone to help, me get my compression stockings on in the morning when it's painful for me to bend my knee. I know I have plenty of friends and loved ones who support me from afar, but without my Rosie beside me, this has been so much more emotionally trying than it would otherwise be.
Losing my partner to cancer
We were supposed to grow old together, supporting one another through every crisis, and we would have if only fate had not made other plans for us. We had done so for all of forty-eight years already before pancreatic cancer took her from me, and I found myself suddenly alone. It has been more than two years since she passed, and with time the reality and permanence of it only becomes more real.
Most times, the grief lies at bay, waiting somewhere in the subconscious. At times like this, it suddenly breaks its chains and bursts forth to make it clear it will always be there below the surface, waiting to reemerge when least expected, suddenly loosed by a random thought, a song on the radio, or sight of a familiar place we once shared. I now recall with bitter sorrow the times I pushed her through these very doors in her wheelchair to prepare for chemo treatments, desperately hoping to buy her the time her hyper-aggressive tumor never allowed.
Caring professionals putting the pieces back together
And so today, I choke back the tears and pull myself together to face the world. Entering the RT center, I find the previous patient has already been treated and left, so I can get an early start. Alex and Anna, my RT “A-TEAM” greet me with their smiles, and we get started.
By the time my treatment session has finished, and I am ready to leave, through their caring, and by taking an interest in me as a person, they unknowingly have picked up my sorrowful heart, dusted it off, and placed it still beating back in my chest. Thank God for wonderful caring professionals like them. Back outside, the sun is still shining, the sky is still blue, and I will make the best of this day with a grateful heart.
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