Jay, who has lived in the Waukesha area for over 20 years, is an active volunteer who has served on numerous local boards and committees. He's married to Colleen with three kids having gone through the Waukesha schools. He is the VP of a local distribution company.
(Note: On September 5th, 2008, I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Tongue Cancer - Stage 4. Following is the 8'th blog on my journey)
Week 4 brought me the very welcome news that my tumor was shrinking. The relief - immediate! And Colleen and I now had something to build on looking forward. And ... I freely admit it - I immediately did countdowns on just about everything related to the illness and cure. How many more chemo IV sessions; how many radiation treatments; how many days for this/weeks for that... How many more plastic bottles of fine, vintage Boost/Ensure to accompany my main courses of pudding or chicken broth??
But, out of nowhere - an unexpected swerve in my thinking process. The rationalization of; treatment of; and living with cancer precludes giving a lot of thought to anything else. I recognized the need to re-indoctrinate back with family, friends, and co-workers.
**My co-workers at Automatic Entrances of Wisconsin have been supportive to the max. They understood where it is appropriate to bring my health challenge into their conversations with customers, and the context to use it. The open, forthright approach on my part has made it easier for them to address and move past my cancer in their jobs...
**Friends now breeze past the initial awkwardness of the "first" cancer conversation. As soon as you add "The tumor is shrinking", the conversational tone lightens up and optimism dominates your talk.
**The "Kids" understand and appreciate the concrete statement - "The tumor is shrinking". Their mindsets, rightfully so, tell them "Tumor gone - Cancer gone".
**Sister, brother, mother, in-laws, cousins and more all explore the myriad of following questions generated by this phrase. And these are pleasant, welcomed conversations.
**Colleen now goes into the fully-protective mode. Her relief at the good news is self-evident, but her RN experience dictates that every rule is to followed - to the end. No cheating on menu; prescriptions are maintained; rest; every treatment appointment will be kept, etc.. And suddenly the Christmas Menu is wide-open for discussion (Does Boost come in a Turkey or ham flavor?).
...And she quietly looks to me for a small acknowledgement of what she has experienced emotionally and physically over the past few months...
Thank you - Colleen!
Me? ...Truth is - the experts tell you chemo and radiation effects will compound as treatment times run on. And I would offer - the experts are correct on this as well. I am fortunate to have a pat answer to use in a conversation when asked "Hey Jay - How are you feeling?"
While good "luck" seems to be avoiding me recently, it's great to be able to answer - "Better - The tumor is shrinking."
Next: "The end of chemo therapy!"