Health & Medical

Carolyn Writes About Another Journey with Cancer

If you’ve been with Suddenly Senior for a while, you know all about us, our illnesses, and our travels.

Eight years ago, when Frank started Suddenly Senior, he promised to “tell the truth about what it’s like to get old, ear hairs, comb-overs, prostate operations and all.” Since then, you’ve read about my being fired because of my age, my close call with death from the bite of a brown recluse spider, Frank’s cataract operations, you name it.

Sometimes, this may be too much of a good thing: there’s even a photo of Frank’s lower intestine online at Colonoscopy and Endoscopy: Exploring Where No Man Has Gone Before

But it’s all part of the journey.

On May 10th, we embarked on our latest trek. Only with this one, we’re not sure of the return scenario.

I had been feeling tired since returning from our African Safari. At first, I chalked it up to jet lag, but that usually only lasts a few days.

This terrible fatigue just went on and on. Everything but the tip of my nose hurt. Bad.

A routine blood test for anemia uncovered an abnormality in my marrow protein-level, and my primary care doctor sent me to a hematologist.

Bone marrow tests and a host others provided a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma. It’s Cancer! The word I’ve hated and feared forever.

One of the proteins goes nuts, eating up all the good stuff and making the bones brittle. I was diagnosed early, in Stage Two.

Now, being the creative wordsmith that I am, a lot of descriptive phrases came to mind. Full of words with only four letters.

Frank and I grieved for two days. I cursed, spit, and threw china. A week later, I met my team at Moffitt Cancer Center, fortunately only about 30 miles away in Tampa, Florida.

Of course, we’d Googled. What we’d learned scared the hell out of both of us. Treatments involved removal of stem cells, chemo, and then replacing the cells. Where was I going to store those stem cell? Make earrings out of them?

I’ve never thought hairless cats are that attractive. Much less me.

By the time we met my new best friend, world-renowned Dr. Mohamad Hussein, Frank and I were both wrecks.

I could just see Frank scattering my ashes in front of my giraffe and the giraffe saying, “I’m not kissing her.” So now, I was angry at the giraffe, too.

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Grief. Acceptance. I certainly have the anger part down!

Dr. Hussein, as well as my new team of about a dozen support staff, said “Hi,” grinned and said, “We’re here for you, 24/7.”

My dear doctor said, “Well, I can put you into a trial, but that will involve chemo, stem-cell removal, radiation. But right now, I think it’s a bit premature.”

I wanted to hug him. I did.

He continued. “I’m going to give you steroids, then Thalidomide. Then go on all those trips you’ve been planning. If you go to Timbuktu, let me know, I’ve always wanted to see that place.”

As I write this, I’m tethered to an IV getting a gram of iron. That may very well result in a new career as a fridge magnet. DRIP, DRIP, DRIP.

I feel good, and the pain is bearable. I go back to Moffitt on July 16 and then we’ll see where the journey takes us next.

Frank has just left for his 50th college reunion in Indiana. No, I was never planning on going. Boring!

We’ll be in Philly for our National Society of Newspaper Columnists at the end of June. Arizona, Utah, and Nevada in September. Must get somewhere to go in July, August, October, November, and December. Australia and New Zealand beckon. I really want to meet a Tasmanian Devil.

And sooner rather than later, I have to go back to where I left my soul on the Maasai Mara.

I will periodically let you dear readers know what’s up. Don’t have time for a blog. I’d rather share my vast reservoir of jokes weekly.

This fork in the road is just a fork. Because you see, Life is a Cabaret, old chum.


Cancer is so limited….

It cannot cripple Love

It cannot shatter Hope

It cannot corrode Faith

It cannot destroy Peace

It cannot kill Friendship

It cannot suppress Memories

It cannot silence Courage

It cannot invade the Soul

It cannot steal Eternal Life

It cannot conquer the Spirit.

Author unknown




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