The cool metal Moose arrived in a large shipping box from Florida, a gift from our pal Harvey. He and I had visited an art shop in St. Petersburg last December – back when I was in remission – and the one they had at that time was too large to justify a purchase. Where would we put it? But Harvey knew how much I admired it and true to his Harvey-spirit, he returned to the shop later to inquire about a smaller version. Hence, the cool metal Moose that now adorns our living room, hopeful green eyes always on me, a smile on his lips and no doubt a little mischief in his heart.
Receiving this gift was an unexpected pleasure. It brightened an otherwise ordinary week, a week complete with a second round of chemo in the second cycle of a prescribed treatment designed to lower my CA-19/9 marker, and the predictable resulting steroid-generated 24-hour high that then quickly descends into a two-day “mild flu” with backaches and a pervasive accompanying tiredness, a tiredness that this morning as I write this blog I am still partially suffering from.
But just looking over the table beyond my chair to that happy metal Moose puts a smile on my chemo face, reminds me of Harvey and the good times we’ve shared, offers the hope there will be more of them, and pulls me out of the doldrums.
Yesterday San and I met with Dr. Robin to listen to and talk about the results of the most recent CT-scans of my chest and abdomen, my labs, and what should be our “next step.” We drove to the Four Winds Cancer Clinic and agreed that no matter what the news might be, we would take a little time before agreeing to reenter chemo.
We figured chemo might be the only answer for the pain I was experiencing in my abdomen. But chemo has a downside, many downsides really, not the least of which has been a “loss of self,” which is a label I use to describe the longer and longer recovery time from a round of chemo, during which time I am basically “Dr. Bud in the chair” over there and not much else.
But not becoming the resident broccoli in the room was only one of our “end-of-life/quality of life” concerns.
Readers of this blog know that prior to that meeting with Dr. Robin, I was worried about what the scans might show, given the surprisingly sharp pain I was experiencing in my abdomen throughout the day and the strange spasms that woke me up at night. When a concern about pain emerges in our narrative it is always accompanied by a corresponding concern with time, as in “how much time might I have left?” It’s not a question with an answer. At least, not usually a good one.