First, for those of you who understand, L’shana tova! (When I was a freshman in college, I had a psychology professor – Dr. Len Green – who came into class and said “L’shana Tova…and if you know what that means, you shouldn’t be here! Whenever I think of that, I smile — I called Len today to share the memory and catch up)! Second, I humbly bow down and ask forgiveness for not blogging yesterday. I’m sure that somewhere someone is cursing my name because it was my first day back to work and I DID NOT BLOG!!
Yesterday started out great: I got to work early; walked up all 10 flights of stairs (twice); and spent the morning between talking to people about how I was doing, reading through the bazillions of Email I had, and going to meetings.
I was sore today and only made it up 5 flights of stairs in the morning and 6 flights in the afternoon. I guess I’ll need to work at building up my endurance again. Before taking my medical leave, I had every intention of clearing off my desk and filing papers. I fell short on that intention, so I spent some time today filing and <gasp> exposing my desk to fresh air.
What I find interesting about reconnecting with folks at work these last two days was everyone who asked not so much how *I* was doing, but how my family was handling things. For those who were interested, but either did not have the opportunity or inclination to ask, here is what I have said: For the most part, my cancer has become less catastrophic since April. I don’t want to suggest that we are blasé about my cancer, but it become a more mundane part of our lives.
Certainly, my weekly chemo appointments have an impact, as I am often fatigued afterward and I have to take my medicine prophylactically to control my nausea, but really right now we are in a treat and wait kind of pattern. In the meantime, we are trying very hard to keep our lives as “normal” as possible. We are going camping with the scouts; going on family trips; having parties; etc. As much as possible, I am trying to live up to the saying, “I’m doing fine….’cept for that cancer thing!”
Inevitably, people ask how the kids and MaryBeth are dealing with things. Well, in reverse order, MaryBeth is doing her best to be supportive of me (during my darker moments), taking care of the family, and working on her studies at Columbia Theological Seminary — there’s a joke in there about her needing to develop her relation with God and being married to me; pre-cancer diagnosis, it was just ’cause I’m a handful to deal with and most who know me and MaryBeth often refer to her as a saint for putting up with me. Après cancer diagnosis, I think MaryBeth is drawing strength from interacting with the other seminary students who tend to be similarly spiritual people. We have had our ‘talks’ about ‘what ifs’ and ‘how we are doing’, but largely, we are both in a “let’s wait and see” holding pattern.
Of my children, my youngest (5 year old daughter) is blissfully unaware of the severity of my diagnosis. At dinners, when she says the prayer, she often asks God to ‘make my Daddy’s tummy better’ and other times she will spontaneously rub my tummy to help. My oldest (13 year old son) has Asperger’s Syndrome. As such, he intellectually understands the science of cancer and the information about it, but there is a lack of emotional connection. Perhaps he understands the severity, but he has not demonstrated such an understanding.
Then there is the middle child (11 year old son). My younger son is a fixer; he wants to make people who are having difficulty feel better (I have to take credit for that particular trait). At our church, we have a place in the service during which people can share their joys and/or concerns with their larger church family. This past weekend, my younger son got up and lit a candle saying that he got stressed out about my cancer. Like my older son, he understands the science of cancer and the information about it, but unlike my older son, he is very much aware of the severity of my diagnosis. We have not discussed statistics or rates, but he knows that we are concerned I may not survive.
So in addition to helping care for his younger sister and “protecting” his older brother (from other kids who might make fun of him), my younger son is trying to figure out how to make his father better. As a father, it is difficult for me to write this; an 11-year old should not have to worry about his father having cancer. To help attenuate the sense of responsibility, my wife’s sister has invited my younger son to Indianapolis for a weekend of no responsibility and fun. For various reasons, I’m going with him and we are going to turn it into a weekend of alone time with Daddy and time to focus on doing only fun things. It may only be a weekend, but hopefully it will help lighten his load a bit.
So there you have it. That is how the family is doing. Perhaps tomorrow I will go into more detail about how *I* am doing.