(2021 01 05)
Completing a jig saw puzzle is as good a way as any to transition from one year to the next. Lynne and I like to start one on Boxing Day and get it done early in the new year. We have a half-finished one on the dining room table just now. It’s fortunate that nobody joins us for dinner these days.
Each new year is a new puzzle. The one we’re working on first is a 750-piece Ravensburger puzzle. The picture is dominated by a big red Northern Cardinal on a cement bird bath, surrounded by yellow and blue birds, and clusters of red, pink, yellow, and white flowers. We’ll get ‘er done, as my 6-year old BC grandson would say. There’s no time to waste.
We should all be old enough to know by now that all the seasonal magic is used up as Christmas Eve comes and goes. Any magic left in Frosty’s old silk hat is long gone by the time the new year rolls around. Our annual hope for a Happy New Year lasts a week, then fades away.
We should spend the week between the two holidays looking at what went right or wrong with the year just gone by. And thinking about what can get better in the year to come.
As far as my year went, I’ve chronicled a lot of it in my blog columns. You can scroll backwards and see for yourself how it all went down. Most of it wasn’t pleasant. It began in February with jaundice and a tumour, and ended in November with cancer spots in my liver. Treatments included chemotherapy, heavy duty pain killers, antibiotics, and radiation.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, my brain wouldn’t resolve the difference between a tumour and a cancer. If my health came up in conversation, I would acknowledge the tumour, but not the cancer. Steve Jobs and Alex Trebek had the same tumour and they kept going like a pair of Eveready bunnies.
By November, there was no escaping the truth. I don’t have a tumour on my pancreas. I have cancer in my liver. It took until then for the oncologist to tell me what I didn’t want to hear. That’s because it took me until November to ask the question I didn’t want answered.
The tumour had shrunk considerably, but cancer spots had moved into my liver and bowel. Metastasized is the word I wasn’t looking for. The only thing left for Lynne and me when we got off the phone with Dr. Valdes was to hug each other and soak ourselves with tears. It’ll be alright, we hoped.
Valdes was straightforward when he answered my questions. What does my future hold? Without treatment, about six months. With treatment, longer than that, but who knows by how much? He was careful to point out that the final decision about going back to chemotherapy belongs to us. This was easy. Two doctors have said the chemo drugs I took in the summer were effective against the tumour. There’s a good chance they’ll be effective again. On top of that, I consulted with all four of my sons and daughter.
All were in favour of doing whatever it takes to keep me around for as long as possible. When I opened voting to in-laws and other family members, the result was still unanimous. So that’s that. I go onto a second round of chemo on January 06.
When I began focusing the blog on the disease, I knew nothing about cancer other than it’s a disease to stay away from. It scares the bejesus out of anyone who gets close to it. People who have been given a diagnosis of a treatable, but incurable, disease are given something others are not. We can grieve for ourselves while still on this side of the grass. I do. Maybe we’ll take a look at this kind of grieving in a future post. But there’s a couple of other things to do first.