The Big C

A journey through Stage Four Cancer

Robin Gibb dies from Colon Cancer

Sad, sad, sad.  I remember listening to the Bee Gee’s for most of the 1970’s.  Even when they weren’t singing disco, I enjoyed their pre-disco era music like “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?

I’ve read a few different reports of  Robin’s diagnosis, but it doesn’t seem as if he was diagnosed with colon cancer any more than two years ago.  He went through operations, chemotherapy and being told he was in remission, only to have the cancer become active again about two weeks later.

-sigh!-  With all the money that Gibb had available, and still not only was there not a cure, there wasn’t even a prolonging of his life!

I feel very sad, I do when someone succumbs to cancer, but I feel especially bad when the cancer in question is colon cancer.

But I also feel blessed because I was diagnosed in 2009, and although I know my cancer is still active, I am home.  It hasn’t spread yet.  I am blessed!

Rest in peace Robin!

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The End

I always come to the party late it seems.  Actually, that is not the best way to express this.  I always seem to learn about things long after they are well established.  There is a Christmas Carol “Mary Did You Know?”  As soon as I heard it, I loved it, and had to share it with others.  Turns out, it was old news.  The song had come out the year before.

Oh well.

Going through stage four cancer is mostly unchartered territory.  The doctors know what to expect of the organism, that is, my body, but not really what is going through my mind.  They can expect that I will feel sad, and even mad.  They have no idea of the rollercoaster that I sometimes ride; emotions of terror that get soothed by my faith, and then the deep sadness that I feel thinking of my motherless children.  I don’t think anyone without stage four cancer can truly understand how deep the terror and sadness can be.

It was after Derek Miller died that I discovered his blog.  The first entry I read, was his last entry, suitably labeled “The Last Post.”  Derek is an atheist.  As I read “I haven’t gone to a better place, or a worse one. I haven’t gone anyplace, because Derek doesn’t exist anymore.” I felt so sad and I felt so badly for him!  To not have any hope of ever reuniting with my husband and children?  This hope is the only thing that makes stage four cancer bearable for me.

Reading on, Derek wrote “So I was unafraid of death—of the moment itself—and of what came afterwards, which was (and is) nothing. As I did all along, I remained somewhat afraid of the process of dying, of increasing weakness and fatigue, of pain, of becoming less and less of myself as I got there.”

He expressed my feelings and fears!  I had to read more of his blog.  I spent hours reading, and plenty of my sleepless nights contemplating his thoughts.

I hope his wife Airdrie leaves the blog searchable for a long time because as a person with stage four cancer, Derek “gets it.”  His blog is a resource for those of us still in the trenches.  If you would like to read Derek’s blog, here is the link to his last post.  The rest of his blog is searchable, just erase all the link after .com/

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So, I’m blogging a lot today, huh? 🙂

That’s because I procrastinated on blogging about my dreams that were getting me down, and then I Got The Call.

Back to the dreams.  They really had me feeling down.  Then two of my sons talked to me at different times, because I had told them about my dreams.

The dreams affected them also.  The dreams depressed them.  I find that really astounding because these were only dreams!  Something to hear, roll your eyes about, discount as a dream, and forget.

The first son is my youngest son, and he had just finished reading a book by Father Amorth who is the head excorcist at the Vatican called “An Excorcist Tells His Story.”  The contents of the book are still fresh in his mind, and on his mind, if you know what I mean?

He asks me if the dream makes me feel depressed? Sad?

He is sure the dreams are diabolical (from the devils influence), reminds me that the devil is also referred to as “the father of lies” and to totally dismiss the dreams for the poison they are.

And before the doctor called to tell me that the cancer was back and that I must come into his office, I begin to be able to follow his advice.

They were weird dreams, but dreams all the same.

The afternoon that the doctor called, the memory of the dreams come back to me full force.  I can’t keep the tears from my eyes and the second son reassures me that I will be fine.  This time, they are catching the cancer early.

But I have trouble accepting his reassuarnces, and I tell him for the first time about the second dream – the one with satan and the calendar.

Now he is upset too.  We make a fine pair.

Eventually he leaves the room.  For the sake of the rest of the people with me, I try my best to turn off the tears and concentrate on the television, although I have no idea what program we were watching.

He comes back into the room a little later.  There is confidence in him as he sits down next to me and takes my hand.

If the dream is from satan, which I am sure it was, then he is not to be believed, because he is the father of lies.  More than that, why would he know what the date of my death would be?  he has no idea if God has a cure or a remission in His plans for me.  Surely, God doesn’t share his plans with his arch-nemesis?

So then why the dream, when he must have known as a Catholic I would not look for or accept his fortune telling?  But I did, for some amount of time.  And I allowed it to depress me.

Yes, I allowed the dream influeneced by someone who despises me to depress me.

Worse, now that the cancer has returned, I have allowed the dream to depress me and without my son’s intellect, I could have been too depressed to fight through this next occurence.

Not now.  Oh no, not now.

I am assembling my arsenol.  My doctor, who is brilliant, is making the battle plan to fight the enemy in my physical body.

My Catholic Faith is assembling the weapons to fight any infilltration into my soul.

The Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary will be my refuge and strength.

The rosary will be my weapon.

And I won’t fear the enemy that can take my body, but only the one who can steal my soul. Matt10:28

Yet, after finding out that I had cancer again, I found myself playing the blame game, even though it wasn’t for very long and even though I knew better.  What did I do, not do, eat or not eat that made the cancer come back?

My pragmatic husband said “How do we know that the cancer hasn’t been there the whole time?  That when the tumor was removed last January (yes, almost exactly a year ago), that a few cells didn’t break away and now they are see-able on the CAT scan?”

Which gives me the small hope that may-be this time, after chemo kills the cancer, there won’t be any more cells to break away and come back again.

And I guess I should end this too, too long blog while my dear readers are at least slightly awake.


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Rest In Peace Elizabeth Edwards

Today is a day, I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep.  Not because I’m tired, but because I just want to be oblivious to the world, and my own feelings.

Sometimes I understand why people drink to excess and use drugs, to escape having to acknowledge, to feel.

That option isn’t open to me.  I won’t say that it isn’t my style, I don’t know.  May-be under different circumstances it would be my style.

But while I breathe, I live and while I live, I want to spend every second living and being with my family.  I don’t want any of us cheated out of one second of my limited days, or months or years.  Whatever God gives me.

Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and underwent treatment.  During her husband’s campaign, she looked vibrant and healthy.

I wonder if she felt like she had a stalker, like I do?  At every checkup, you wonder, is this when my remission ends?

In 2007, Elizabeth’s remission ended.

She took treatment for almost all of her remaining three years, but even with the effects of chemo, she still was there for her family and friends, always cheerful, always smiling.

Until her end, which was yesterday.

This is what I hate about cancer.   I have met so many people who have endured horrible radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and have gone into remission.

Their hair returns.  Slowly, their energy returns.

They make it through the first year, holding their breath.

They make it through their second year, and they breathe a little easier.

They make it through their third year, and they are thrilled! Now they can breathe freely.  They have conquered cancer!!  It is all free sailing after this.

Six months later, it returns, and for so many of them, they die.

Cancer is a gift, because you really and truly realize how few your remaining days are.  Even when you are in remission, gratefully in remission, you know it can end any time.  You either tell people you love them now, make the good memories now, or it won’t happen ever.  Never.

But cancer is also very cruel.  Cruel to your body.  Cruel to your mind.  Cruel to your family.  And cruel to your finances.

I’ll end this post with a quote from the last entry of Elizabeth’s Face Book Account:

You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know