Wednesday, July 15, 2015


We had talked about chemo. How the every-3rd-week treatment for four months would affect the plans we had made for the coming couple of months. Missed events. Missed friends. What had we left in Argeles that we'd really need to have in Geneva before the end of the year? Oh yeah, tax stuff; a trip would be necessary before the October extension deadline. Maybe some additional clothes for the Geneva fall and winter.

The surprises kept coming. The mammo showing and the biopsy confirming breast cancer ... again ... four years after surviving it the first time around. The PET scan revealing the gallbladder as an unknown hot spot. We already knew about the gallstones (at least since earlier this summer); we just didn't think there was an urgency to deal with them. That they might be cancerous created a high urgency. Then there was that unknown spot attached to the intestine - not a good place to get cancer (not that there is any good place). And something suspicious on the liver?

We talked about death. Probably thought about it more, separately, than we were either of us willing to express. Any time you have an operation, there's risk, even if the surgeon has done it dozens, hundreds, thousands of times. A bad reaction to the anesthesia. Cardiac arrest during the operation (one of the primary scenarios in the anesthesiology simulator I had helped market 20 years ago, but nonetheless rare) - though D-L's ticker has been confirmed multiple times as healthy. The absent-minded doctor who forgets to remove a scalpel from inside your stomach and they close you up. Infection afterwards. Any number of unexpected events that are drama for medical television shows. At least D-L didn't have the bizarre Greg House as her doctor.

Donna-Lane said she was at peace if it all went horribly wrong. Said she was worried about me, not herself. I thought briefly about where she'd asked me to spread her ashes and wondered whether the wood sculptures I had recently read about would be located nearby. I wondered where and how I'd spend my time when my world no longer revolved around this incredible person I married. I can imagine barely functioning, but if I did that I know her ghost would come back and smack me upside the head.

Interesting that D-L tended to expect and prepare for the worst-case scenario. She assumed cancer and chemo. I acknowledged the worst-case, wanted to understand it and all the other possibilities. But I did not think the gallbladder would be cancerous. Maybe because that's so rare. Maybe because we already knew about the gallstone issue, and why had it never shown up as potential cancer before? Maybe because I didn't want her to go through chemo and be sick and tired for months to come. (She was excited about the possible wig styles and colors she might get to disguise the hair loss.)

For the better part of a month our focus has been on medical issues, medical places, medical uncertainties. And a surprising portion about which family and friends we wanted to know what and when. What did we ever do before email and social media? I guess we'd be making a lot of long-distance phone calls.

The "trauma-tane" is not yet over. There's still surgery for the breast cancer. There's still the possibility of chemo there, as one of the tumours is in a lymph node. But maybe not. Hope not. Don't think so. But if it happens, she'll deal with it, and I'll do what I can to support her through it. Maybe two wigs.   

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