The Waiting Game

By: Anne Corke

Aug 31 2013


Category: Life stories, Rants


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Last September, we were informed that my husband’s cancer had returned, that it was terminal and that he had about a year to live. In an effort to prolong his life, he submitted to radiation again and began another round of chemo. The first chemo cocktail did not halt the cancer’s progress, nor did the second. He has been offered a third alternative which is given each week. As anyone who has had chemo knows, it’s a totally unpleasant experience. Nausea, vomiting, weakness, extreme fatigue, general malaise, just kind of takes the fun out of life. Gary has halted chemo. He’s had enough.

Gary’s cancer journey began in 2006 with prostate cancer which was successfully treated with surgery. Around the time that he was declared free of this cancer, he began to have trouble swallowing. This was the beginning of the second cancer, esophageal cancer. The surgeon decided to treat it aggressively as it’s a particularly dangerous form of the disease. Gary had twenty five radiation treatments and two chemo treatments, a short month’s rest, then seven hours of major surgery to remove the cancer. Although he was given a less than ten percent chance of surviving it, the surgery was successful but the recovery was long and arduous. Gary was in Oshawa hospital for eleven weeks, two in critical care, and many of his medical team did not think he would survive. Two days after surgery, he was put on a ventilator, he developed pneumonia and blood clots in his legs. His heart rate was dangerously fast, running as high as 140. But somehow he managed to get through all these crises and finally returned home at the end of May 2011, extremely weak, barely able to walk. Thus began more than a year of recovery, struggling through each day, trying to regain strength. By the summer of 2012, he was feeling quite well and things were finally looking up. In August, he told me he wanted to get a guitar, that he had always wanted to play. He bought a beautiful dark red guitar and began to practice. But more trouble was on the horizon. In September, his right hip began to hurt. We thought he had probably pulled a muscle and that it would take a few weeks to mend. It didn’t get any better and to his surgeon’s surprise, his next CT scan showed that cancer had developed in his hip. The surgeon’s verdict, terminal, a year to live. Despite all he had been through, it seemed that the fates were against us. Which brings us back to today. The predicted year is almost up. Now we wait, wondering each day how Gary will be feeling, wondering how the disease will develop now that chemo has stopped, wondering what will happen next and how we will cope, trying to take a day at a time, trying not to look too far ahead, scared of the unknown, trying to stare death down.

Copyright 2013 Anne Corke

5 comments on “The Waiting Game”

  1. A very moving piece, Anne. I can hardly imagine what you and Gary are going through. My mother died of lung cancer about a year ago. I guess she was lucky, however, in that she only lasted two weeks after the diagnosis. It left very little time, though, for proper good-byes.
    Drew Monkman

    • Thanks for your kind comment, Drew. Cancer is an awful disease and so very pervasive in our society. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have more time with your mother but perhaps it was for the best. My mother lingered for six months with bladder cancer. I hope one day someone somewhere will find the key to curing this horrible disease.

  2. This is very touching, Anne. I’m sorry for the grief & the pain visited on you & Gary & your loved ones. Obviously you know what is really important. The picture posted is a beautiful picture of man & dog.

  3. Thanks, Rita. I love this photo of Gary and his shadow, Sophie.

  4. I always think of Gary when he was at Quaker. Always joking, always pleasant. I am not surprised that he is giving it a good fight. He is not one to quit when the going gets tough. I think of you also and your smile and kindness towards others. Both of you have been through living hell, but you have done it together with love and determination. One never knows what tomorrow may bring, and maybe that’s a good thing, for today, you and Gary and your son are all together as a loving family and I guess that’s all one can ask for at this time. Live one day at a time. Cherish it and each other and know that there are many of us who are praying for each of you and that we too, are living one day at a time, thankful that Gary is still here to share with us. Thinking of you.

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