Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yesterday I Had No Hope - The Evil That is Cancer

Since Joe was diagnosed in January of 2010 with stage IV colon cancer,  I had hope that somehow he would beat the odds.   And even though I heard the doctor use the word incurable, I still had hope that Joe would prove the doctors wrong.
Up until a few months ago, Joe looked healthy and he was strong.

How could this young, strong, healthy looking man be sick?  He was a young father.  He should be there to see his son grow up. His son should be able to get to know the gentle and kind man his father is.

Joe and Domani

Me Domani and Joe

His marriage was young, he and his wife, Anne, still had years of love and experiences ahead of them.

Joe and Anne

Yes, I just knew that the man in these photos would beat the odds.

But during the past two months his health and condition have rapidly declined as evil cancer starts to win the battle.   He has been unable to eat much and becomes weaker and weaker each day.   

But even so, Joe continued to fight and I still had hope.

Yesterday,  Wednesday, was Joe's normal scheduled day to receive chemo.  
It took Joe, with Anne's help, 2 hours to get ready to go for the one hour drive to the facility where he gets his treatment.  
After each little task, such as, getting up out of the chair, walking to the bathroom, dressing, putting on his shoes, he would have to stop and rest.  

Joe's regular doctor was out so Joe was seen by another doctor.  This was the first time that Joe had seen this doctor.  After the standard preliminary blood tests, and exam, the doctor very bluntly and coldly told Joe and Anne that at this point treatment of any kind would not be effective and there would not be any attempts of further treatment.

Joe and Anne asked if a social worker was available to talk with.   Apparently, this doctor was not very helpful with that request and mumbled something about the fact that she did not think that service was available at that particular facility. 

I know that to the doctors and nurses who deal with cancer on a 24/7 basis this is just another day, another patient.   

But this day, it was Ann'e husband.  This day it was our son.   This day it was Jen and Jimmy's brother.
This day it was Uncle Joe.

No, this day was not just another day for us.

Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my 36 year old son, Joe's  life. 

And even though during the past two months,  I could see he was starting to struggle, I still had hope.

And even though on Thanksgiving day, as  I watched him barely able to eat a small piece of turkey I still had hope.

Last night Joe asked Anne to call our family together.   Ross and I, Joe's father, Ken, my daughter Jen and her husband Derek, my son Jimmy and his wife Jeannie, Anne's parents, Marie and Dave, Anne's sister, Karen and her husband Chris all gathered in Joe and Anne's living room.

Anne explained to us that at this point the goal is to make Joe as comfortable as possible and to make the most of his time here.

Joe sat quietly and listened.

There were a lot of tears shed as we all tried to take in what Anne was saying and tried to make sense of the unfairness that is evil cancer.

As I watched Jimmy sitting next to his big brother, holding  his hand and crying,  I thought about how they fought when they were kids.   And I thought about special their relationship has become.

As I sat next to Joe and held his hand,  through my tears, I mouthed "I love you, Joe".

Joe looked at me and weakly said, "I know."

He looked at me as if he wanted to say more.   He finally gathered his strength and said to me,

"I still have time."

Yesterday was the hardest day of my life.  Yesterday I had no hope.


  1. Very moving post. I almost shied away from commenting  because it is so personal and emotional. But it's beautiful and real and touches a nerve with me. What a difficult journey you and your family are going through, but he sounds like an amazing man and that you have an amazing family. Wishing you lots of joy and love through this time and all time. None of us know how much time we have here and sometimes it takes being faced with death to make us cherish each precious moment. At least that is how I felt when I lost someone very dear to me to cancer. And this is how I felt reading this post. Like an awakening, a reminder to cherish each moment. I'm glad you still have time and that your family is all  coming together. A big hug to you.

  2. I shed some tears with you as I read this post. I admire your courage in writing about it. You and your family will be in my heart. Even though I've never met you, probably never will, it grieves me to know that good people are hurting. Wishing you peace.

  3. My heart is breaking for you and I don't even know you.  I have been there as a sibling. Twice.  I can't imagine being there as a parent.  I hope that sharing with us helps you.  Your family is heavy on my heart.

  4. I am so sorry. No parent, no wife, no sibling, child or friend should have to endure this kind of pain. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. This is soul crushing. It really is. All my prayers and good thoughts, strength, wisdom and peace go out to you and your family. Especially to Joe. Cancer is evil. Very, very evil.

  6. Thank you for your comforting words.  They are much appreciated.

  7. I have been trying to find the meaning or "lesson" in all of this.  You are so right,  it is about how precious our time here is. 
     It also puts the petty little daily annoyances in perspective.
    Thank you for your kind sentiments.  

  8. Cancer makes me so very angry.  And like so many other people, I have had too much experience with it in my life.     
    I have to tell you, writing this blog helps me very much.   But what is even more touching is the support from people like you, Gina.  
    Thank you. 

  9. Thank you.  Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated.

  10. I love that you shared with us pictures of joy. My mom has been battling Stage IV lung cancer since February 2010, and the battle is hard. I cannot imagine having to go through this with my son. I know that all the time that you have with Joe will be treasured. 

  11. I am so sorry. You wrote a beautiful post about your son. We all grieve with you.

  12. I am so sorry to hear that your mother is battling this horrific disease.  
    Cherish the better times and keep the hope going.