Thursday, October 16, 2008

SWMBO's letter to my mother

I hope you'll forgive me for a descent into the maudlin.

And I hope you'll excuse me for inserting so much into this venue about SWMBO (Sandie, my Sweetie.)

You probably know, if you're a frequent reader here, that Sandie has Lung Cancer. Her Oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Center, which is a six-hour drive from here, has determined that her original treatment of medicine is no longer working for her.

SWMBO and her sister, Nancy, are driving to Seattle from Corvallis, as I speak, for Sandie's first Chemotherapy treatment. We don't know how it will go or how her body will react to the injection of heavy-metal poisons. But her doctor has given her a 50-50 chance of surviving the cancer for the next year, and in fact survival means that she will have outlasted the cancerous tumor which currently occupies the upper quadrant of her right lung.

It's not fair, this aggressive incursion, but Sandie is strong and otherwise healthy. That's why her doctor has prescribed this unusually aggressive course of treatment: Chemotherapy is typically inflicted on the patient once every three weeks, to give the body the time to recover from one treatment to the next. We have no idea how Sandie's body will respond to this aggression.

That's the background, and while I wait here for her return from the first treatment, please allow me to share with you the letter which Sandie sent to my mother, who wrote with some alarm when she first learned that the encouraging medical treatment first prescribed had failed in its goal, and the alternative was a much less benign course.

I will edit the letter to omit certain personals family references. Other references will seem obscure. That's not important.

Good afternoon!
Today is a good day. Yes, I will have my first chemo therapy on Friday, 10/17, in Seattle. They will refer me to an oncologist here so that I don't have to make the trip up there once every week for 12 treatments. They give the treatment a 50-50 chance of killing the cancer, which is so much better than I was told at the beginning of this journey. I'll probably be sticking pretty close to home through this. Lucky for me I have co-workers and a boss that supports me working from home as much as I need to. I am also blessed with many friends and family that really care and are willing to help, as long as I ask for help.
I can't say that I am looking forward to going through this but I am ready to complete this journey to achieve full recovery. Thank you for your positive thoughtfulness and prayers, they are greatly appreciated.
I'm glad you have Bogie [ed: The Dog], he's good company...even if you need to take for walks. How's the walker working out for you? Jerry is really looking forward to spending time with you on Nov 7th. He likes having you all to himself. Selfish boy! ;-) I miss our card games and all the fun we have playing them.
I would love to have some of your roses, but at least you get to enjoy them. Rain is much better than snow but I'll still miss the nice weather we've had this summer. (Even if I couldn't get out and enjoy it.)
I hope Shirley Anne is doing well. Please give her my best.
Love and light to you...

Sandie is on her way to Seattle, where (she tells me) she expects to spend several hours with a good book while people she has never met cater to her every wish. It's strawberry-and-cream time, to hear her tell it, as chemo patients usually bring snacks and other refreshments to help them pass the (four hours) time while they receive their injections.

She is traveling to Seattle in the night because her appointment is for 9:30 am. She and her sister Nancy, who is driving the 257 miles from Corvallis to Seattle .. and back.

They'll stay in a Seattle hotel tonight, rise early to make the morning appointment, and stay again at their hotel Friday night.

We don't know how Sandie will react to the first chemotherapy session, but it seems unwise to attempt travel immediately for 5 or 6 hours. Nausea is a common reaction to the chemicals, and it would not be an easy trip.

They will come back to Corvallis on Saturday, and I will meet them at Sandie's home. I'll thank her sister profusely, and she will be glad to get home to her husband.

Then I will spoil Sandie outrageously, and wait upon her in the traditional "Hand and Foot" manner.

Will she be able to go to work next week? We don't know. Her employer has agreed to be uncommonly forgiving of her need to telecommute. And she does have short-term care insurance (a wise precaution in these complicated times) Also, her colleagues have agreed to donate some of their sick-leave time to her benefit, so she may be able to weather the temporary inconvenience of indisposition without being devastated by the lack of a paycheck; or worse the loss of her job.

We are hoping for the best, and prepared for the worst.

And again, we do thank you very much for your support, and for your prayers.

SWMBO is a survivor, you know?

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