Sunday, June 5, 2011

Reflections on Cancer

I just read Siddhartha Mukherjee's "Emperor of All Maladies",  a biography of cancer from ancient times to the present.  He calls his book a biography instead of a history since cancer is this immortal thing with a personality that lives within all of us, and when this entity gets pissed off--it just goes crazy and kills you from the inside out--thank you Hollywood for all of the images!  This reading was quite an effort for a hypochondriac who could not even say the word "cancer" without a queasy sence of dread.  Mukerjee was no help--he is a Pulitzer Prize winning stylist who is a real phrase getter and whose literary oddities and crudities magnify cancer in all of its creepiness.  Who needs sex scenes for page turners when you get to peer through the lens of medical science straight into your own mortality--or the mortality of those you love the most?  Anyway,  I just returned the book to the in house library at Martin-O'Nielle Cancer Center where Janey, my sweet wife,  is in her second round of chemotherepy. 

I have cancelled workshops and classes so that I can stay home and fulfill my assignment as a 24/7 care giver.  I finally wake up each day knowing exactly what I am supposed to do--care for somebody besides myself.  I call it structured giving, love in a template, or automatic holiness--anyway it has simplified my life. 

Janey's fight against cancer is all about me.  I am freaked out, panicked, scared shitless, and a few other things.  Janey, meanwhile, has not missed a beat.  She loves her cancer center with its boutique shop, beauty salon, massage therepists, volunteers, chaplins, pharmicists, chemothepists, sugeons, and patients.  From her custom chemo infusion lounge chair she looks out to the mountains surrounding beautiful St. Helena ("...aren't they pretty...")  or blabs with new and old friends who are likewise conjoined in the battle of the ages.

Janey has a big life and a big fan base.  I get to direct traffic as phone calls, meals, gifts, and condolences pour in.  I have learned that many well wishers check in on Janey to see how they are doing.   She was wiped out for a few days after her first infusion because I failed to administer the correct drug protocol--my bad--my really bad.  But she is doing very well--faith is alive, miracles are happening, and love is prevailing.   Talk to ya later, Don


  1. Don
    Just wishing you well, thinking of you and sending my good energy your way.
    Love ya Man

  2. Blessings on you and Janey.
    Keep the faith strong and all things are possible.
    My love to you both.

  3. Hi Don,

    Glad to see you post again. I think its good for you to talk about what you're going through. When cancer hits a family member, everyone is hit with sickness. Janey fights the real disease and the remainder fight their own personal battle. Cancer effects everyone involved. You're right, it's a catalyst for prayer. God bless, my friend, and know my prayers are constantly with you. Blessings and love to Janey.

    Talk to you soon.

  4. I checked in to print out your Feb 26 post, so I can take it along and keep your voice in my head, and was surprised to find a new entry.

    If nothing else, serious disease and chronic illness focus us on the essentials and staying in the moment--speculating about the future is pointless and only increases anxiety. I think of you daily and am glad you have so many people nearby to help care for you both--and that you are able to see their love for you demonstrated. I pray all will be well.

  5. Cancer taught me how to live. Sending out love to you and Janey. Cherish each moment and don't sweat all the other stuff.

  6. Don! I was wondering where you have been, and thinking of you. Now I know why you've been on my heart. Wrapping you both up in prayer and love. Someone sent me a card once with this quote - I never forgot it.

    "There is a triumph over adversity in the human spirit in the firm belief that God, while He may not move mountains, will surely give us the strength to climb."
    Praying that you have exactly what you need today,and every day forward....

  7. Don, It's sad to read this. My heart goes out to
    you, Janey, and your entire family.
    Please stay hopeful. Love endures all things.

  8. Don, Just happened upon your blog and read about Janey. We are thinking of you and will be praying for you.
    God bless you, Rebecca and CW Mundy