Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Almost always the obituary of a cancer patient refers to his "courageous battle with cancer."

Makes me wonder--are all cancer patients courageous?

Courage requires action in the face of danger. It does not require absence of fear but rather action in spite of fear.

When I had a cold a few weeks ago, each morning I woke up expecting to feel better. I wasn't terribly sick just tired and lacking energy. I hated wasting time not feeling well, not accomplishing anything.

Then I realized: This is how Jim feels every day. His major side effect from the chemo is fatigue. Every day he gets up as tired as when he went to bed. Yet, he has the courage to keep taking the very drugs that keep him in a state of exhaustion. This perseverance in the face of unremitting pain and suffering is heroic. How much easier it would be to say, "I quit. I give up. I can't take it."

Are all cancer patients courageous? Maybe not. But all that I've met are.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I have tremendous sympathy for caregivers who are sick or for couples who both have cancer. The year following Jim's first surgery and treatment, I prayed that I would stay well and I didn't have so much as a sniffle! I must say that in the ensuing six years I have been in overall good health. I don't take that for granted.

This week has been a reminder of how blessed I've been. I started with a headache and sore throat on Tuesday, plied myself with Zicam and VitaminC (which probably does no good), and tried to convince myself that I wasn't sick. On Wed night I brought out the big gun, my favorite beddy-bye elixir--NYQUIL. I don't know whether it made me better but at least I slept.

By Friday night I succumbed and admitted that I must have a sinus infection with a cough. I could hardly wait to get to bed last night with my Vicks Vapo-rub, 12 hour nasal spray, a box of Kleenex, and my shot of Nyquil.

The bad news is that Jim has the cough, too.

He wanted to take something for his cough at bedtime. "Should I take prescription cough medicine (someone elses)?" he asked, having learned to depend on my expert medical advice, "Or should I take Nyquil?"

I was so concerned with getting some relief myself that I couldn't think straight. I tried to focus. What ingredients might be contraindicated with the multitude of super drugs he is taking? I should look it up on the computer. If I weren't dying I probably would. "Take Nyquil," I finally tell him as I head off for a hot bath.

Unfortunately I can't shirk my responsibility so easily. I spent the night listening for his breathing to be sure I hadn't killed him. Thank God, he seems fine this morning--but I'm still sick.