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Downsizing


While we know that the tumor has been downsized by the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, we have taken a long look at our personal belongings and have started the process of downsizing in this area too.  So far, the experience has been quite cathartic.

How much ‘stuff’ does one really need to be comfortable in life?  China that has never been used, kitchen gadgets (well, except for the Tumor Extractor!), glasses, roasting pans; yikes where did all this stuff come from?   And better yet… what really is the need?

Funny as it seems, when I was in the seminary those little rooms we lived in seemed so small…now as I look back at that experience, living austerely has its benefits.  Thomas Merton does know what he is talking about!

Cancer is a life changing experience for all who are involved in it.  We have grown closer because of the disease and have I have come to a reality check with my life.   You see, what is important is not how many items you collect, rather what is important is how many lives you touch.   The last few years I have lost touch with my own reality; cancer does have its peculiar benefits.

As the green leaves transition to beautiful autumn colors, we are in a transition mode as well.  What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others will ever be immortal.  I am honored and proud to be a caregiver, it is one of the most remarkable experiences in life.  I am also grateful for the reality check that our downsizing has provided to us.  May the ‘Little One’s’  health continue to improve; let the downsizing begin!

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Honest Dialogue is the BEST Medicine


Tonight we had ‘The Talk’…The ‘What If’s…The ‘unmentionable’…It happen so matter-of-factually that by the time the conversation was over, there was no pain, no agony, no tears. It’s simply called, planning…planning for the day when there will be no more days. How does one really do that…By having honest dialogue so that everyone is on the same page so that no stone is left unturned.

When The Little One mentioned the word “Hospice” this evening, it opened the door up for one of the most beautiful and meaningful conversations that two people could ever have on such a sensitive subject. The funny thing about this word “Hospice” is that we have both experienced hospice in the past as both of our deceased partners went through this wonderful program. Yet for some reason, we have not been able to talk openly about this topic between ourselves until today.

We are both advocates of Hospice yet for very different, yet similar reasons. While I tend to be on the spiritual side (I can’t completely let go of my theological background) ‘The Little One’ claims to an agnostic Jew. I always find that funny because he is one of the most spiritual and ground persons that I have ever met. Often misunderstood for his gruff demeanor and direct comments, ‘The Little One’ is rooted in clear thought and perspective. You may not like what he has to say, yet he leaves no dust uncovered. You know where you stand, win or lose. It is really the best way to communicate.

For me, Hospice is a way to celebrate all stages of life. Hospice is not only for the patient, it is also for the entire family of the patient. ‘The Little One’ would say the same thing, yet he would omit the spiritual side of the experience. Yet the spiritual side of Hospice is undeniable because so many lives are transformed by the experience. During my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) internship several years ago, I was honored to have the chance to work for a summer in Hospice. I truly saw some remarkable things during my Hospice internship. High profile Doctor’s humbled; broken families reunited; husband’s, wife’s, children, partners letting go. It is as raw as a human experience one can have attending to one’s happy transition. Just as no one should be born into life alone; everyone should be afforded a beautiful sunset to their lives as well. Hospice is one of the tools that allows that to happen.

While we have all the legal paperwork in place, having the conversation out in the open allowed us to speak boldly on the ‘what if’s’…’how are we going to handle this or that’…and merely…;just what are we going to do?’ With the second PET scan scheduled for the first week in December, we will have a clear idea what effects of the radiation and chemotherapy had on the insidious tumor. Will our plans become clear at that point? Maybe so, maybe not!

You see, what ever the oncologist tells us in December, we are going to live each day to the fullest. We are going to do what we can do each day and simply move on. We know some days are going to be better than others, yet why wait around for the Grim Reaper? Let the Grim Reaper chase after us. I’ve used this line in a previous post….”It is a known fact that 100% of the people born are going to die.” So as we continue on with our Monty Python Theme of ‘We’re Not Dead Yet” we’ve decided not to ACT the part, but rather embrace it with a life as full and rich as we can have under the circumstances.

Honest Dialogue often brings out the best (and sometimes) worst in people. However without honest dialogue, what then is communication? While there is not a need for Hospice today, we both know where we stand, we both know what is important to us and we both know that when and if the time comes for this wonderful program, we’ll embrace it, deal with it and make it the best possible experience for all of our family and friends who care to share in the experience with us.

While the effects of Cancer are enormous on everyone, we can’t allow the disease to drive the bus. While ‘The Little One’ and I might share different opinions on life after death; one thing that we do know is that while we are on this earth, we are going to enjoy every second, minute, hour, day, month, year we have left. Life is intended to be lived; we move on with faith, happiness and love. While we can’t avoid pain, we can choose to overcome it. That is simply how Herman and Richard (the first) would want that for us, and for all of you as well!

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Filed under Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Unconditional Love