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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-03-24 05:42
Subject: [cancer] Seeing it from the other side
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, cancer, child, family, health, healthcare, personal, shellyrae
I have a friend here in Portland who is in his mid-60s. He's going through a very similar cancer course to mine, albeit significantly more severe, as his primary cancer had already metastasized when first detected. Yesterday I had planned to visit him at his house, mostly to listen, and also to talk about strategies for surviving chemo with heart and mind and body intact.

Yesterday, he was admitted to the oncology ward of his treating hospital for severe complications from chemotherapy. So I visited him there instead.

Without too much detail, he's lost about thirty pounds in the past eight or ten weeks. He looked dreadful. After two months of chemotherapy, he was worse off than I was at the end of a six-month course. I sat with him for about an hour and half while his family ran errands, and mostly we talked. Slowly, on his part, and listening on my part.

The tiny, hospital smelling room; the infusion pumps gently clicking; the beeping of alarms in the hallway; even the look of the bed — this is his journey, not mine. But I've been on a very similar journey, and have even odds of getting my ticket punched for the chemo trail again in the near future. Being there put me in a very odd, fragile mental and emotional space.

Did I look like this? I don't think so, but I never saw myself from the outside. Did I have the cognitive disconnects he was going through? Absolutely.

I realized anew yesterday how frightening my chemo course must have been to [info]the_child, to [info]calendula_witch and [info]shelly_rae, to my family and friends. I realized anew how frightening it was for me.

He'll probably be ok, my friend. The complications have been stabilized, they've identified the reason for the weight loss and are remediating that. Me, I walked out of there weeping for him, for me, for all the lost years and lives that cancer steals from the living and the dead.

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Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2011-03-24 12:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Very tragic and moving. Thank you for sharing this hurt with us, my friend. *hugs*
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User: mcjulie
Date: 2011-03-24 15:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You always write about this topic with heartbreaking vividness. I really hope your friend is okay.
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User: shelly_rae
Date: 2011-03-24 15:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Do you really want to know how you looked? The fear in your eyes? The distress? Like you, I know both sides of cancerland--all too well. I'm pragmatic I guess. I do not fear. I do not weep.

I hate that you had cancer. That you suffered. For me, taking care of you was much harder than being a cancer patient. I did my best to help you through. And look, here you are!

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Jay Lake: shelly_rae-smiling
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-03-24 15:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hello. And thank you.
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shelly_rae: Jay & Me Chemo 10
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2011-03-24 16:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Jay & Me Chemo 10
You are most welcome.
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User: mlerules
Date: 2011-03-24 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Glad to hear he'll prolly be okay. Glad too that you were able to provide support to him (and fambily) when he needed it - and that you've got a strong support network yourself.
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User: adelheid_p
Date: 2011-03-24 15:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for this.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-03-24 16:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Very best wishes to him. And please give yourself a hug from me.
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User: threeoutside
Date: 2011-03-24 16:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
{{hugs, dood}}
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Angel Leigh McCoy
User: angelmcc
Date: 2011-03-24 23:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My heart goes out to him. Best wishes, from one survivor to another.
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User: australian_joe
Date: 2011-03-25 06:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That must've been tough on you. I'm glad your friend had someone there who understood it all, though.
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