A Tiny Glimpse

Yesterday I had an experience that I feel compelled to extract from my body via trembling fingers tapping out verbiage in hopes of, number one, releasing it so my soul will settle and, number two, show some sort of understanding for those in my life the last seven years. 

I have been helping a friend of mine. They had been diagnosed with cancer last year and went through treatment practically unbeknownst to most of those around them, me included. Then symptoms came back and they sought my counsel as one that has fought the good fight. They were in need of advice and some support. I readily agreed to attend doctor appointments to help them understand and navigate the labyrinth of oncology care. The first meetings were rather didactic. Biopsies and tests had already been performed and it was indisputable, the cancer was back and was behaving aggressively. The doctor outlined the plan and a offensive attack devised that had to start quickly. When he left to go check on “how soon” it could start my friend leaned back in the chair and took a shaky breath. Then covered their face with their hands; shoulders shook as they let out shock and fear in the form of tears. I hugged them and offered assurance that things would work out. That we would figure it all out. Fast forward three weeks and two rounds of treatment that was laced with brutal side effects, that was my yesterday. Again, along for support, I sat taking notes as the examination took place. The news was not what we had hoped for. Things had not changed, unwanted cells were advancing. My friend is exhausted, dehydrated, and damaged from the treatment. There is a thrid option for chemo but their body is in no state for it and it has only a small chance of helping. The doctor speaks gently using words like quality of life, comfort and hospice. When we are alone, I re-explain the findings. I hold them as tears come.  A few rogue tears escape my own eyes which I wipe quickly as I am needed as a mainstay in this moment. I grip their hands and tell them that they and I are one hundred percent alive right now, in this moment, and that God is with us. I tell them they are not alone. It feels good to say it aloud. We leave the office hand in hand and when they are tucked safely in the car in the care of another friend’s expert hands I walk to my car in the parking lot. I say “Well that was just shitty” out loud to no one in particular. Two off duty nurses walking ahead of me turn to look at me. I apologize for the offensive language. I get in my car. I then take my own shaky breath and cry about all that I have seen and heard in the last hour.

 As I recover my composure it dawns on me that there are caregivers and families everywhere that go through this every day and I want to say right now that I didn’t know. I didn’t know what it was like to look at my face as devastating news was delivered to me. When my mind failed to grasp what the doctor was telling me I didn’t know that how it felt for my dearest ones to have to retell the horrible news to me so I did understand.  When my hands move to cover a shocked face as tears came I didn’t know about the helplessness those that cared for me felt. The shock felt within their being releasing a strong reverberation that had to be contained as they cradled me and let me cry only allowing a few tears of their own. The words of comfort and reassurance spoken allowed so that I could have some sort of life line to cling to...I didn’t know they were clinging to it too. All of us holding on tight to what seemed to be the tiniest thread of hope. I didn’t know they were trying to work a solution to a problem they couldn’t solve because “it is what it is”. I didn’t know about the conversation they had with themselves after I was tucked safely away and out of earshot. The tears that came in private, away from my presence as the reality of the choices that I was going to have to make and what I perhaps would have to endure, maybe painful, maybe insurmountable.

And me, the patient. Me, the victim. Me, the one who will experience unspoken atrocities of treatment. I am not the parent, the sister, the husband, the child, the caregiver...the witness. The witness. I didn’t know. I don’t know the entirety of it. But I want you all to understand that I know now. I received a disquieting look at your reality and what I saw wounded my soul a little and that was just a small flash...a tiny glimpse.

4 people threw a punch at your cancer.
3 people sent you a prayer.
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Just wow. Your words are so elequent, they touched my soul.
Michele likes this comment
I don't know what to say, except to say that I am sorry that your friend is having to go through this, but how fortunate she/he is to have you as a friend. May God bless you both.
3 people like this comment
Hi Friends: Another affirmation of 'cancer sucks' being an understatement. I, and most people, don't care for a 'no-win' situation. I think of good ole Captain Kirk in Star Trek II where in training, a captain is put into a no-win situation, to which it is revealed that Captain Kirk once reprogrammed the computers during his no-win training, giving him an opportunity to get out of the no-win scenario; to which his Doctor noted "You cheated death, you've always cheated death". So, here's to the medical world finding that way to 'reprogram the system' to give more of us an opportunity for 'cheating death' and giving us 2nd and 3rd chances in this life.
We hope and pray that the medical world can find more and more ways for us to 'cheat death' and we realize that the only thing left sometimes to 'cheat' is to pray and have faith for that one miracle with 'our name on it'. MGBY you and your friend. Michele, you are a good friend, looking for every detail on how your friend may be able to extend their time here with us, and you are more help than they can imagine, just as we haven't imagined what our friends and loved ones went thru during our treatment. Here's to winning when given a 'no-win' situation.
5 people like this comment
Beautiful words, Michele. I have had a couple of friends that have passed away from cancer and the toll it took on their caregivers was evident. I remember looking at my own husbands face a few times ( when we got the news and when he had to give me skin treatments), that this was as hard on him as it was on me. It brings tears to my eyes as I write this. You are an amazing friend to be there with them. They picked you because of your gift of complete compassion, understanding and strength.
Michele likes this comment
Amen
Michele likes this comment
Your posts are always so well written. They definitely are good for me. I am so sorry about your friend. Thank you for this perspective. Hugs, love, and prayers
Michele likes this comment
Michelle, I am so sorry for you and your friends diagnosis, and the effect on the extended circle. It's got to take a huge sacrifice for you, to go through this again and again, especially since you have suffered all the details and risks.
I know sometimes, reading our BFAC friends posts, when I know their struggles, and I see an email come up; I will set it back to new to read a little later, because I have to prepare myself.
When I send a message to a AC'er that I haven't seen a current post, or hasn't posted in a while, and I find out things haven't gone well; each time, it just breaks my heart.
This story is difficult, but shows how amazing you are!
Michele likes this comment
I am so sorry about your friends diagnosis. You are a special person to volunteer to act as their advocate with them at doctor appointments. I know you made their day a little easier because you cared enough to support them.
Michele likes this comment
Cancer, illness, powerlessness, it's all so tragic. The only redeeming factor in the mix is how it can bring people so close together to a point of pure empathy and love. Just as you showed here, Michelle. 👩‍❤️‍👩
Michele likes this comment
Michele,
You are a blessing to your friend. Prayers for your friend and prayers for you that you both have the strength needed for what lies ahead.
Michele likes this comment
Life has so many lessons. So good of you to be there for your friend.. It is draining. It's terrible. God is good and someday we will understand. Till then you know what you do for anyone is as if you did it for God himself.. You are a blessing and are doing saintly things.. How wonderful to have that opportunity and answer the call.. even though it hurts its good to help one another love you hugs and always prayers Sabina
Maridel, Michele like this comment
The other side, I knew it was tough but you are experiencing it. You are having the full range--I am sorry for your friend and for you. God Bless you.
Michele likes this comment
Beautifully written and such profound truth. Thank you for your eloquent words, I felt touched by them.
Michele likes this comment
I'm sorry your friend did not have successful tx and I'm sorry that you have a heavy heart. I Think you noble and admirable for being there for survivors in a capacity that evokes memories of your own past days of illness. I'm sorry to see you sad but I sense that you are a person with much empathy. God bless Michelle. Love.
Michele, Laura like this comment
I too know the feeling of being the patient and being the caregiver for someone with Cancer. It is a horrible and brutally emotional roller coaster. You are such a strong and resilient woman to have helped your friend in need.
Michele likes this comment
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Vital Info

Posts

October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp

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