During my six months of chemotherapy I shared the details with family members and a just few friends, and because I benefited from their sustained support, I want to recognize them here:
John Auers—my U. Nebr. frat brother who’s somehow more talkative than I am and even goes to D.C. and talks to Congress—called up several times.
Dr. Andrew Singer, my best car-guy friend, a resident of Tennessee, gave me many reality checks on health questions and proved himself the ace diagnostician.
Preston Lerner, a fellow magazine freelancer, checked in often and bought me a hamburger during his visit to the Desert in March for the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament. I told Preston the story about my experiment in visiting a nondenominational Christian church at the end of 2017. His response: “You believe in God?” I’m still trying to figure out which heinous act might have suggested otherwise.
Rose Ann Fennessy, who re-entered my life (first time since eight-grade graduation in 1969) and supported me in every way, listened sympathetically to accounts of clinic visits and complications from treatment, and also pretended to laugh at my jokes.
Angela Riechers stuck with me, providing tenderness and encouragement when she was going through plenty of stress herself.
Aunt Margie, in Lincoln, talked to me every couple of weeks and also extended the welcome me when I made it to Nebraska on that April road trip—and it was slick to see Charlie too.
Wonderful nurses administered the treatments
During a consultation in April I told the oncologist, Dr. Plimsole Fay Swacker-Carbonspine, his clinic staff is excellent.
Dr. Carbonspine smiled, didn’t ask about Bentleys or Astons, and said, “They’re very compassionate.”
Charge nurse Lynne’s compassion and empathy extended to calling me Stud Boy when I wore red.
Mischievous Bobbie is good with numbers and can multiply 13 x 7 = 91 in her head but didn’t expect that I’m 62 years old.
Joy, who unconvincingly tries to conceal her sporty side, can deliver a stick in the arm with stealth. Joy and her husband have a lemon and grape ranch in Coachella; she made her three daughters raise pigs to keep them grounded in reality. She has a younger son: I hope the kid gets a horse.
Chrystal weighed me in, took my vitals, and cleaned up my stains. Chrystal has natural cool. She likes to go to Los Angeles Kings hockey games and drink beer. What could be cooler?
Having Ronnie change my PICC dressing a few times led to an appreciation of his understated humor.
Ramona holds down Dr. Carbonspine’s front desk and waiting room, which are always exploding with phone calls and walk-ins. She is a wonderful person.
A special thank you to Tracy, nurse practitioner, for tempering my inclination to bray, pout, and scowl.
Andrea, the thoughtful (and droll) social worker, hooked me up with gas cards from the Pendleton Foundation—just another example of how heaven opened up for me.
Two of the many angels I met
The moment I met P.—I don’t dare violate a fellow patient’s privacy by using her name—yes, P., her free spirit was evident. A long-time resident of Milan before returning to the United States a few years ago, P. is a sweet woman, 66 years old, never sick a day until an alarming incident in January and then the shock of being diagnosed with stage-four cancer—a massive tumor in her lower pelvis. Getting the same FOLFOX chemo regimen as I, she suffered. But when she felt like sharing them, her stories and insights were delightful. I like to think we buoyed each other.
The beautiful 32-ish woman in Target’s Christmas decorations last autumn wore a bandana. After whipping my cart around the corner and beholding her, I blurted out, “Are you a chemotherapy patient?” Afflicted with an aggressive form of cancer, she had just completed one year of treatments that included several overnight-in-hospital infusions. Hard to imagine, but she disarmed me with blitheness, as if it was nothing. She had gained weight over the year and wasn’t as sick as you’d expect. It was a heartening experience that helped me to go forward when I was stalling on the whole job. Just an anonymous angel with a shopping basket.
In addition to all this, I have to tell you how happy I am to be blessed with my home. I have a laundry that can be used anytime, a shower, air conditioning, a guest room, and a garage.
Now a few weekly blood draws remain, and then a scan to see how things look. The PICC stays inserted till then in case–ack!–further treatment is deemed necessary. I’m hoping all will be OK.
Cherish your good health. Stop with the self-pity. Live your life.