our fight with cancer - five

The next five weeks she wore a chemo tube attached to the PCCT line and received her radiation treatments. I was the Chauffeur.

We were up and on the road a six A.M. for a thirty mile drive and her morning cup of radiation.
X marked the spot...zap...the marshmallow was a little "roastier".

I couldn't help but point out that by the time they were through zapping her, I would have a real nice rump roast.  That was only funny for the first week.

She had to go in once a week to have the chemo tube filled, but the "chemo run" was only a 6 mile trip.

The radiation fried her bottom end and the chemo screwed with her top end. Although her mind never lost is sharpness and the ability to keep up the fight, her emotions were on fast forward.

The radiation caused her to her hair to fall out...not her head hair but her pubic hair.

I shaved my head in support. That was not a good thing to do. I didn't know why. Everyone shaved their heads when their loved ones went through that kind of hell.

She didn't know why, but it pissed her off. It wasn't right...for some reason...some deep emotional reason that neither one of us understood...it upset her.

I am not a psychologist but looking back I believe it  was a signal to her that I thought she was not going to make it. At that time there were no physical outward appearances that would indicate there was anything wrong with her.

She knew that dwelling on the problem...playing the "woe is me card" was the worst thing she could do. Yes, she had the line but, she wore long sleeve blouses and it was not visible.

Looking at my bald head was visible...a sign that I believed she was in deep trouble. Her emotions were not as easy for her to control as her attitude.

As the treatments went forward her body and emotions went backward. She lost weight...she lost control of her bowels...she lost her dignity.

That's when I became a real nurse...no probably not a nurse, but the person who cleans everything up.

She was supposed to have twenty-five radiation treatments. Monday through Friday for five weeks.

On day twenty-three, half way to the hospital she said, "No. I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I would rather die."

I turned around and took her home.

When we started the treatments she was a healthy but sore 135 pound ball of energy. As I looked at her, huddled in the corner of the car seat wearing a diaper, she was a ninety-five pound bundle of..."tell the world I'm ready to get off."

I thought about the radiation. When I grew up, they used it to kill people in Japan. Now, they were using it to kill my wife. Did they actually know what the hell they were doing. Had we really made the mistake of choosing the wrong treatment.

But, I realized we had not chosen anything. Someone, God or fate, had chosen Nancy to be zapped with cancer and the provider had chosen to zap her with radiation.

We had no choice. We were just on the goddamned train. I prayed it wasn't the train to hell.

/ / / /


  1. This is gut-wrenching, this must have been difficult to write even in retrospect. Are you going to turn this into a book? This is powerful, raw, honest, beautifully written. You guys are both amazing

  2. ugh. you feel so helpless as well...and try to do what you can....heavy man...def an honest look at what you went through...painful

  3. This is where the terror steps in, when you question every decision and can only pray that together you make the right one. John's wife opted not to do the chemo and radiation, knowing that at stage 4 she was only prolonging the inevitable. Instead, she wanted to spend what time she had feeling as good as possible and doing the things they loved, and she did. I admire her courage more than words can say, and I admire you and your wife for deciding when enough was enough for her. It is a personal decision that no one else should have a say in.