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Lost a 'chemo buddy' this week, a sad reminder of what can happen.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I went in today to try and get my scheduled chemo (denied because of low platelets, but that's another story), and learned that one of my chemo buddies passed away over the past week. It's funny how close you feel to the people that get their chemo at the same time as you; kind people that help you pass the long hours of getting treatment by talking about anything and everything. My first encounter with this man was early in my chemo rounds, when I came in with a cold. I felt so bad when he quickly donned a mask when I started coughing near him. (Since then I know to bring my OWN masks for similar situations!) I apologized for not having planned ahead so that I had a mask; and the next week I brought him a little bag of my special clove-flavored chemo-candies I suck on when I get that awful metallic taste during chemo, as an apology. He had leukemea and sat by me when I had to have my first blood transfusion, (an almost daily event for him), and I was quickly welcomed into the 'vampires,' as the leukemia blood transfusion group call themselves.

It shows how important it is to keep your bowels well-functioning during treatment. In straining, he tore his rectum, and with no white blood cells and no immunity, he developed an infection and abcess. I spoke with him last week when he came in to try and get some relief. But with almost no platelets there was nothing they could really do but admit him for pain management and antibiotics. But he got gangrene in the wound and died.

Sorry. It's just so sad when someone nice dies an undignified and painful death. This is my first personal loss since I joined the 'cancer community.' I guess I just today realized that I could lose others I've come to know and like on my cancer journey, my chemo buddies and maybe even some of my friends here. I must be great at denial to just be facingthis now. :(

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

Linda. I am so sorry. I guess none of us want that type of reality when we are going through treatments. Relationships we make here or during treatments are such a large part of our lives. I lost two friends that I had knows for years during my cancer treatments. And the same question always enters my brain "why did I survive and not them". There are no simple answers as they fought every bit as hard. What seems like a simple problem during cancer develops into a spiral effect and one problem starts another problem. I see this spiral effect over and over and within a few days someone we care about or love is gone. We can't bring anyone back but we can remember them and pray for them. And they remind us to tell others in our lives how special they are to us. Hugs and prayers Slickwilly

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

Linda,

A day doesn't pass that I do not wonder why my aging paralyzed father survived my younger brother, or why I, divorced and sterile, have survived to wind up the oldest male member of my extended family. Since my diagnosis, I can't keep count of the number of wakes and funerals I have attended for friends and relatives, some younger than I.

Loss is part of everyone's life, becoming more acute for those of us with cancer or some other serious disease. Our own survival is a mystery only answered by future events. What journey lies ahead? Whom have we yet to meet? What jobs have yet to be accomplished? What lessons have yet to be learned? What love has not yet been revealed? Only those who have gone before us can see into our hearts to know our joy as those future promises become present realities.

Love and Courage!

Rick

blueroses's picture
blueroses
Posts: 527
Joined: Jul 2008

Don't be so hard on yourself, we all face different levels of awareness in our cancer journey at different times. As patients we are so concentrated on our own survival and treatments we don't have the energy to reach out and see others on their journeys at the same time - especially those involved in treatments when we are with them. I'm so sorry for your loss. One step at a time Linda, and be kind to yourself - you have and continue to go through quite the trauma - easy does it. Blessings, Blueroses.

tonybear
Posts: 92
Joined: Mar 2009

since leaving the hospital i have lost 3 close friends to cancer. the first one was very hard on me because she taught me how to fight one day at a time. she was my hero at the hospital i was in. her favorite question to me was, "are you still fighting". all in all i have learned to take care of the body, those drugs which i don't like, i take them anyway, stay with my diet changes, that is a fight in and of itself. i workout for the right reasons now, talk to the wife and counselor about my mood swings. all of these things are not pleasant but neccessary. there are days i feel bad becasue i have lost people with whom i've had a common fight, it also reminds me of my immortality. the hardest part is i have never cried although i have felt the tears in my heart. someday i think i will cry. till then the question is, are you still fighting?

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

If only fighting hard and having a positive attitude really DID guarantee survivorship, then I wouldn't have to worry about all of my new friends traveling this cancer journey with me. Alas,....

Thanks, everyone, for your kind responses.

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

Linda, you are right--if only having a positive atitude and a willingness to fight guaranteed survivorship. But when it gets right down to it, when it's your time to go, you go. But not without a fight, of course. You can never lose hope, once you lose hope you stop fighting. That you have a choice about.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

My condolences on the loss of your friends and on the loss as well of fellow fighters.

I will submit to you, Linda, that fighting hard CAN make a difference, although that is not always the case. It CAN make a difference, and that is what matters.

Regarding the positive attitude, I will allow that it is not a cure for cancer, but at the same time, it serves at least three useful purposes:

1. It makes you more bearable to the medical professionals to work with you, and I ask you, who would you rather work with, a pleasant and even humorous person, or a crotchety whiner? No matter what you do for a living! Guess who is going to get preferential treatment if there is such a thing?

2. Guess which one of you your friends prefer to be around?

3. Guess which one of you is living life to the max, for as long as there is to live it, and which one dies (if and when that time comes) regretting that he or she did not live with a positive attitude and an active mindset?

You keep being positive, you keep fighting, Linda. Those attributes will not hurt you, ever.

Again, I am sorry for your losses. I have joked in this joint before that it is not a place to make long-lasting relationships (it is a JOKE). The same can be said for the Chemo Palace, and for Rad Station. We do it anyway, and we are better off for it, even if it hurts when the worst comes to pass from time to time.

Take care,

Joe

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I hate to read obituaries where they say "After a brave 3 year battle with cancer...". When I read that, I think: "They tortured her until the end with treatments." I've joked with my family that I want it stated in my obitiuary that my last words were "Not Yet!". Because that is how I am sure I will feel, whether I am 56 or 96. I don't want to be remembered for my brave battle with cancer, even though I can already see cancer trying to re-define who I am. Surely we are all more than our cancer!

The best obituary I ever read was one written under strict instructions from the deceased. He wanted (and got his wish) that his obituary would read:

"Claude was a life-long dare-devil. His last words were 'Watch this!'"

Isn't that great? I know that's probably not how his end really happened. But that is how he wanted to be remembered.

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

My family has been given instructions that I will not be put into a hospital when my time comes. I will be in a bed or tent in my front yard and there will be a BBQ going with keg beer on tap. When I leave this earth I want to hear people laughing and smell BBQ chicken. If my obit said I reached 143 mph in my Plymouth Cuda that would be great. Because it was quite funny seeing my wife curled up on the floor and screaming. Slickwilly

green50
Posts: 318
Joined: Feb 2008

As I posted before MY son said to me when I asked what if you pass away first? My son is ADHD borderline IQ and sometimes I think he is the one with the biggest heart, He said to me " MOM I don't want anyone coming to my funeral and crying, No crying because I am going to be happy I will be with Dad." He is almost 30 and actually thinks he will live to be 100 but I thought the way he said it made me laugh and smile. Me, I want to dance until I on my way to the next life where I hope to dance there too.
Prayers and Hugs
Sandy

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

I plan (unless someone plans it for me) to not have a regular funeral. I want to have a living funeral, one in which while I am alive my relatives and friends gather in a restaurant or park shelter (depending upon the time of year) and have fun socializing and eating good food. I want to be cremated and my ashes thrown over my chosen, memorable spot. I want to do away with all the expenses of a funeral and casket and tombstone marker and plot, etc. plus embalming fluid. I look half-dead already so I don't need anything to make me look more life-like. Cancer and chemo really did a number on my looks though I do have my hair (all over my body), eyebrows, and eyelashes back. I just don't look like I used to despite being 23+ months NED.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I think you're much prettier than you know! And insightful, by the way. I can see your thought process and wisdom and kindness in your posts. I will be glad when you get your next PAP test done in May and all is well for you. My cancer was discovered originally from a suspicious PAP test, and so abnormal PAPs scare me more than they should.

I also want to be cremated, and have my ashes spread as compost over my garden so that I can 'live on' as daffodils and peonies and tomatoes. I believe my family will do that for me, and it seems to provide a place for those who want to 'visit' me and who would prefer a more traditional grave. I just hope that is all DECADES off! HA!

tasha_111's picture
tasha_111
Posts: 2043
Joined: Oct 2008

"I told you I was ill!" I want my ashes scattered on Thorpe Cloud in Derbyshire England. and Sarah McLauchlins "Arms of the angels" played at my funeral..Bugger, ain't I getting morbid? It's cos it's my birthday..........sorry. Hugs All Jxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

Thank you Linda, I don't mind a compliment once in a while. I always call it the "stupid paptest" because it all but ruined my 22+ month period of NED. I should be very grateful for the decent health I've had all these months and going on here and seeing the problems people face with their cancer should put things in perspective for me. However, death has been on my mind alot lately because my 82 year old mother is in the hospital fighting for her life with a severe infection, blood clot, dehydration (she fell in her apartment and broke a bone in her upper thigh on March 14) and I just found out last Thursday via letter from Social Security that my daughter's father died on March 13. Just one thing after another.

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

Tasha. Happy Birthday and I hope you have many more. As you once said that was not your picture I suspect you just turned 85 and have been messing with us ha ha. I have not quite figured out where I want my ashes. I had an uncle that passed after being an alcoholic his whole life. For two years his ashes held my mothers closet door open. It was the longest he ever held a job. I thought of building my own casket in the garage but the wife didn't like that idea. Heck you can actually go online and order the fancy handles, hinges ect. And I think I deserve a feather bed to lay on. I guess all that will have to wait as I plan on living for a while longer. Dreamdove the new pic looks great. Someday I will figure out how to put my pic on this sight. Well I'll catch everyone later and have a great day. Slickwilly

blueroses's picture
blueroses
Posts: 527
Joined: Jul 2008

For about the 4th time I nearly spit my coffee out onto my computer screen laughing at something you typed Slick - soon you will have to get me a new screen. lol. I couldn't stop laughing at the part where you wrote that the alcoholic Uncle's ashes held the closet door opened for two years and that was the longest job he had ever had. lol. Where would be without humour, eh, especially when we are feeling so down. Blessings, Blueroses.

blueroses's picture
blueroses
Posts: 527
Joined: Jul 2008

Well no wonder you have had death on your mind with loved ones struggling or passed in such a short period of time. That combined with your own health issues and all you have been through make one ponder their demise, I don't think that's unusual. I hope this post finds you in better spirits today. We all sure can relate to the ups and downs of our situation can't we? Blessings, Blueroses.

green50
Posts: 318
Joined: Feb 2008

I had pistachio nuts in my mouth when they went on my computer after reading Slicks entry.
My mom wants me to throw her ashes to the wind. My husband wanted to be buried so he and my stone is out at the cemetary near other friends and the Cemetary name none other then Green Park. hmm imagine that? my last name. And the only one in his home town. Any way get away from that subject. Dreamdove hope you have a better day. Tough time was with you and I am giving you a "HUG." I had my 2nd chemo day in row chemo tomorrow my 3rd then I will wait 3 weeks for next round. Tomorrow find out what count is. Hopefully my count is down. Hope all is well with everyone. Hope you had a good birthday Tasha and many more. Prayers and Hugs as always
Sandy GREEN

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

33 years ago my girlfriend "now my wife" and I ran off to Washington State where I was in the Army. I decided to visit my alcoholic uncle with my new bride to be. Of course we had to drag him out of the local bar where he had a seat with his name on it. We entered his yard and walked past a pile of bottles about the same size as Mt Rainier. We entered his home and chased some chickens out of the kitchen. It is my theory that he kept the chickens close in case he wanted to cook one up. After some polite conversation with no explaination of why there were chickens in his house he offered to rent me and my future wife his chicken coop. I needed a place to rent but didn't think my future wife would like living in a chicken coop. My wife can never say we did't move up in life from that point. So the moral of this story is never let your chickens come home to roost, and never put your future wife in a chicken coop. Slickwilly

green50
Posts: 318
Joined: Feb 2008

Thanks Slick for keeping us smiling. Your stories help the day. Tom and I would of been married 32 years this year. He use to make me laugh about every day. I miss that. You and your wife sound like us. We were in a mobile home that Tom said he wouldnt live in because he built them but it was an old one and what we could afford in the beginning. Floor unlevel. It was "home". Again thanks for the laughs. Chemo brain here better stop while I'm ahead LOL
Prayers and Hugs
Sandy

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

Thanks for all the kind words. It was such a shock to find out about my daughter's father's death. He was only 49. I hadn't seen him in 13 years. I spoke to him on the phone maybe 4 years ago. I sent him a Christmas card with a picture of my daughter's school picture in it. She was entering high school this last Fall when it was taken. He lived in another state. He went to the hospital with pnemonia and with his heart problems, it did him in. He died on March 13, Friday the 13th, and his funeral was on St. Patrick's Day. Of course my daughter and I were not in attendance because I only got the letter from Social Security last Thursday, 12 days too late. He was cremated. They are planning to do something with his ashes on July 4th. So we will see. I didn't have a long relationship with him--there were too many issues. He was an alcoholic. But I think back to that time period and it's like it was just yesterday when I first met him. I hope that where is he, that he has found the peace he could not find in this life.

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

Dreamdove. Your a good person and deserve so much better from life. I hope that as you get through this week things start to get better. Sometimes it takes reminders of our younger life to realize we really don't have it bad now. You have a daughter that is no doubt quite special to you. You are stronger than you ever thought you could be and no doubt more independent. And your daughter is seeing an example of what a hard working, loving and caring mother should be. Many children are not so blessed. Prayers and hugs Slickwilly

peggy65's picture
peggy65
Posts: 100
Joined: Jan 2009

when i began my chemo, i sat in my chair not wanting to acknowledge anyone there, probably i didn't want to acknowledge that i was sitting in a chemo therapy chair ready for an infusion. that aside, i soon began to acknowledge my fellow chemo mates and found an extraordinary bond developing with several of them. even their family members. it was such a blessing to meet these people, who like me, had cancer. there was something calming about going to the chemo room after a while. it actually felt like a safe place. i felt almost privileged to be with my new friends, many of them becoming friends after chemo. we immediately shared a common bond. i didn't have to explain or even talk if i didn't want to. so losing a chemo fiend is a big deal. yes, it happens but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. my prayers are with you as you continue to walk without your friend. love, peggy

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