Friday, July 19, 2013

Walk a Mile in My Hip

I've always wondered why someone would keep their diagnosis a secret from their family and loved ones.

That's what I told my oncologist a couple of weeks ago as I sat on one of those hospital exam bed things, you know the one with with the deli paper on it. I felt the need to tell her why I was alone that day, that I came in secret and how I now understood why those people may have kept their news to themselves too.

Not long ago a friend asked about my experience in telling everyone about getting cancer. In answering his/her questions s/he said they'd heard enough to decide whether or not to tell people that s/he got a cancer and decided against it. That person's family knows, just not every Tom, Dick and Harry. S/he gets to be treated normal.

Personally, I couldn't walk without support for months so my cancer wasn't something we could keep to ourselves. Even now a couple years later I still have a hard time keeping up with people when walking and usually ask for them to slow down. My Grandpa Rebalkin was a slow walker, more like a shuffle really. Even before cancer I sometimes found myself doing what our family calls the Rebalkin Shuffle, now I just do it more. If we're ever walking together, please shuffle along.

Back to my appointment, I wanted to tell Faith about my appointment, I just didn't want her to worry or anyone else. She knew I was feeling fatigued, that my hip was acutely sore and I was waking up every night in sweats (not the atheltic wear). These type of symtoms for cancer survivors and their loved ones are worrisome.

So we put on a brave face, a stiff upper lip and go out and live life. What other option is there?

Though cancer is on the forefront of the mind, it's the LAST thing we want to talk about with every Tom, Dick and Harry. Please take no offence Tom or Harry.

Because I met with my oncologist early, my scheduled appointment in August was canceled. Which meant that I needed to tell Faith she didn't have to take that day off to accompany me. The cat was out of the bag and this burden was now hers too.

It's not my fault cancer came to me, but I have felt guilty on what a weight it has been to my family. I mentioned (vented) on Facebook something that happened to Faith. While out one Saturday an aquintance abruptly asked her, before any pleasantries "How's Ruban's cancer?" Perhaps it sounds as innocent as it it was meant, but it's such a loaded topic and a tiresome one too. Faith was polite, but when when she got home she unloaded on me on how insenstive the guy was, going on about cancer conspriacy's and other sky is falling stupidity.

Someone I think commented on my Facebook vent that they guy was just being nice, he meant well. I don't doubt that. We don't hate the guy or anything, but boy his type of comments were not healing, caring and similar words have never been appreciated.

Faith handled it well and the guy was cluesless to how Faith felt inside, like most unempatheic people do who make such dumb comments. Of course he didn't know that Faith was worried about me, her husband, her daughter's father. He didn't know that my blood work had just come back, that my white blood cell count was LOW. He had no idea that I was being tested for new or spreading cancer. He had no idea that just a day before she was being the strong one comforting me only to go in the next room after to quietly sob to herself.

If I sound a little harsh on the imbicilic comments and delivery that upset my wife well it's a fault I have. It goes like this, upset my wife and/or daughter and Papa Bear comes out. Otherwise Papa Bear will gladly hibernate.  

Last Saturday I had a CT Scan, the last test.

The night before last I was visiting friends. During the visit my friend's wife was on her iPad when she gasped. She just friend of theirs just passed away from cancer, a wife and mother three. The conversation naturally turned to this woman's life and mine too. Later that night my friend sent me a message hoping they didn't cross a line in our talk about cancer and reaffirmed their care and concern for me and my family. I was fine, they had nothing to worry about, though the email was appreciated nonethess. A sharp contrast to what Faith had to endure.

My heart sunk for this mother. I searched for her blog, found it only to find it too difficult to read. I was shocked to learn that she was diagnosed with cancer the very month and year I was. It felt odd that this woman, though a stranger to me, had passed away and I was still here. Sleep didnt come easy that night.

When I woke up the next day I just spent it all with Myrtle. Bike rides, parks, piggy back rides, reading, horsey back rides, silliness, whatever she wanted.

Finally my oncolgist called, and here's the low down:
no cancer (!)
my hip will always hurt and be a disabilty
low white blood cell count from the radiation therapy called neutropenia, which means my immune system is low
I have CRF, Cancer-related Fatigue, tiredness not rememdied by sleep, this was brought on by the radiation therapy and it can stay for years to indefinatley or be gone by tomorrow.

So of course the good news is to be free of cancer, everything else are just details.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to talk to us about cancer, or not.

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