Archives for posts with tag: surviving cancer

Not all cancers are death sentences. Not all cancers are fast killers.

I need to get this out of my system. If you are a cancer patient, hear me out. Not all cancers are death sentences. Not all cancers are fast killers. However, pancreatic cancer is a difficult diagnosis to have.

Please, don’t despair. Don’t give up. I think it is 90% attitude and Ray is a testament to that. In the 6 years he pushed back at pancreatic cancer, advances were made. He was not the only one to live far beyond the expected statistical norm. Steve Jobs passed him by a year. And I know of people with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis who are still alive after 15 and 20 years. If you have a new diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, who knows? Don’t rely on statistics. New drugs, new advances are coming on stream every day. Our oncologist, Dr. Hagen Kennecke at the BC Cancer Agency did everything new he could find. Granted, Ray was exceptional. He never allowed cancer to have any power over him. And Hagen and the staff at BCCA battled right along side him.

Look at diet, it’s important. Look at acupuncture, yoga, meditation. All of these have immense power over your physical systems and can extend your life in a very healthy way. You can have control over this and you need to use it. You are not a victim. Fight back. But — most important — be invincible because you can be. Your next 5 or 6 years may be the time that we find a cure. Be strong. Live every day.

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Twenty-five days

I don’t know where you are in the loss process. I’m not sure where I am. But it occurs to me that I have the ability to write and to rationalize my experiences. So, in the feint hope that I can help another person who is newly facing loss or who is raw from the loss of someone so important to them that the loss seems insurmountable, I’ll document my thoughts.

This is my first post, so bear with me. I lost Ray, my perfect soulmate on March 23, 2012. Three weeks and two days ago. I have the ability to distance myself from my own reality on occasion, as I’m sure we all do.

Ray was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on March 17, 2006. I was gobsmacked. He was only 52 years old! We were successful…planning our lives….making a difference, and then everything changed in a blink of an eye. I had to call my kids and tell them that their dad was seriously ill…but he was fine yesterday.

I’ll write about the in-between some other time, if you want me to, and if I think it’s needed. But for now, let me tell you that six years of knowing that someone is likely to die does not diminish the shock. We had times of absolute bliss where the cancer seemed so distant. But it was always that “other shoe” and we waited for it to drop. I always thought we were “just kidding”. Ray was one of the stoic people who never acknowledged the illness and just kept going. So, when he finally started to show signs of weakness: a cane, a wheelchair, a dependence on oxygen therapy, I had to start seeing the reality. It was a short reality. From the time he needed that cane and oxygen to the time he died was three short months. He went from a robust 200+ pounds to I don’t know what in that time. He was light, frail and struggling to breathe in such a short time. How could this happen??

Ray was well known in our professional field. Three hundred people attended his Celebration of Life. Countless others watched it via live feed and later watched the recorded version from all around the world. That makes this not greater or less than your loss. It’s just that I find it difficult to understand how someone so loved and respected could be plucked from life when he had so much more to do. I am struggling with that right now.

Here is what I worry about. People will give me and my children time to grieve. But it will be far, far less time than we need. My doctor sat me down last week and, though she never does this as she knows I’m “in control” she told me, “let me tell you something about grief”. She told me that I will need a minimum of one year…to start. That’s for all the anniversaries. Each day will be a day without Ray. The year won’t do it, but the problem is, friends and maybe even family, won’t give us even that one year. They’ll give us weeks, maybe months. Then they’ll want to get on with things and expect that we will do the same. But we can’t. There is a smoking, meteor-sized hole in our lives. We just can’t fill it in that fast.

If you are reading this and you’ve lost someone, fight for time. You deserve it and you need it. If you are a friend or family member, back off. Allow the loss to settle. That settling time will be long — likely much longer than you will understand.

I’ll write more as I see that I can.

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