• Dealing With Cancer XXV

    03/28/2016~ What is my “Dealing With Cancer” blog all about? It is not just about the cancer, it is how hubby and I are dealing with the cancer. I want it to be real, to explain what we know, what has happened, and what we expect. To keep it real, I am trying to be as honest as possible; sharing Jim’s frustration and then sharing my frustrations.

    I vent in this blog. I have no where else to vent. I am only the caretaker, not the individual with the lymphoma. I would give anything to trade places with him, but I know I cannot, and doing so might not help him at all. I have always been the stronger person…

    If some of my rants and frustrations make you see me as an uncaring person, then so be it. I feel they represent the truth and I would be a liar to pretend everything was perfect. It would be a lie to think either of us was perfect.

    The elephant in the room is the anger, the sheer rage that can overcome a cancer patient, and they usually lash out at their caretaker. I have been called every name in the book, and accused of things that are unimaginable. I have been told that all of this is my fault; he never should have married me because I am a tramp and a whore; he never really loved me; I am nothing but a fat pig; I’ve been punched while driving… The list goes on and on, yet I am still here because I know it is the cancer. He has gone out of his way to apologize, to beg my forgiveness. I have forgiven and will continue to stand by him. I love him.

    The prognosis is not good. He is over 60-years-old and he has high blood pressure and diabetes, his lymphoma is the aggressive kind, meaning if he makes it though chemo this round, he will have a chance to live three to five more years. A small percentage are completely cured, but they have been under 60 years of age.

    I have tried to purge all the hateful moments from the last 4 months because they will come back to haunt me. He knows what buttons to push to hurt me, yet I am numb right now, call it self preservation… for I know when they do come flooding back, I will be left to question whether… Never mind, best to stay numb.

    The problems I speak of are realities, I want to share it all without sugar-coating it. Does this make me a horrible person?


  • Dealing With Cancer XXIV

    03/25/2016~ Jimmy had his Chemo sessions on March 21, March 22 and March 23. He was disappointed that this time around he did not have the go go go feeling like before. Jim has an aggressive form of cancer and the chemo therapy drug regiment includes Prednisone.

    Prednisone, which is an anti inflammatory, is a steroid known to cause Prednisone Euphoria. Jim takes it for five days starting the first day of his Chemotherapy. For the first three days, when you are actually getting the chemo treatment, you are on top of the world. The fourth day the euphoria diminishes, and by the fifth day you are looking for that euphoria and tiring quickly. This time it was a little worse because Jim forgot to take the Prednisone on the second chemo day.

    Have I mentioned that Jim is very stubborn, hard-headed, independent, proud, and an only child? Trying to help him is a constant battle when he thinks that any offer of help means you are telling him that he is incompetent… I don’t get that, but it does no good to argue; you end up chasing your head around the room when he bites it off. If nothing else, I have learned a lot about my husband and myself.


  • Dealing with Cancer XXIII

    03/16/2016~ Jim has spent the last three days mostly in bed.

    He will get up and go eat, or try to watch TV downstairs on the beautiful 50 inch TV we just bought, but since we got the 50 inch TV, we moved the 32 inch TV upstairs to our room, and he seems to like that one just fine.

    We decided this morning that Jim was suffering from depression. This is common for cancer patients we are told.

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    Like they didn’t have to go through enough already, right?

    Feeling blue
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    Chemo Brain sounds like a Sci-fi B horror movie!

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  • Dealing With Cancer XXII

    03/11/2016~ Jim is better, yet he is running a low fever. That can be caused by either the Chemotherapy or the Non-Hodgkin-Lymphoma (NHL) itself.

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    This is all so frightening and nobody will give you a direct prognosis, so you are left to surfing the web…

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    His Cardiologist told us that he highly recomend that we should request a consultation with Palliative Care counselor.

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    We are not ready for that…


  • Dealing With Cancer XXI

    03/07/2016~ Jim is feeling horrible today. They told him the the chemo drugs in this session were stronger. We wondered what that would mean. The session started on Monday, 02/29/2016, and Jim felt great! One of the drugs in his Chemotherapy cocktail makes him feel like he can take on the world. This carried him through the first four days of his “rest period.” between cycles.

    Sunday night and Monday were a different story. He spent the whole night and then the day upstairs in bed, making a moaning, whining sound he has created into a repetitive chant… that goes on and on and on… I tried very hard to ignore it and sleep, no such luck. Halfway through the night I almost lost it, but I managed to hold my tongue. By this time, the sound was like nails on a chalk board.

    At one point I asked him, “Are you this sick, in this much pain? Do I need to take you to the hospital?”

    “No,” he responded. “This just makes me feel better.” I bit my tongue to keep from snapping and rolled back over pretending to try to go to sleep. He was quiet for a while and I think I dozed, only to be waken again. Does anyone remember the original movie “The Fly” with Vincent Price? From the pillow next to mine I hear “Help me, help me, help me…”, chanted with a high pitched whine. I sit up quickly and asked, “What can I do to help?”

    “What,” he opened his eyes and looked dazed and confused.

    “You are saying ‘help me,’ over and over again. How can I help you?”

    “I didn’t know I was doing that…”


  • Dealing With Cancer XX

    02/27/2016~ It is hard to believe the rest period will be over, on Monday, for on Monday, 02/29/2016, Jim starts on a new Chemotherapy cycle.

    They say the good news is that Jim seems to have beat all the complications that hindered his chemotherapy treatments. His kidneys are working, his liver is almost normal, and his Cardiologist (heart doctor) says they could probably remove his Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD), which Jim calls his pacemaker, but they won’t just yet because removing it can cause complications. We do not want complications!

    The Oncologist (cancer doctor), said it was time to get aggressive with the chemo… Now we are both nervous about Monday’s chemo.

    With all the good news, it’s hard not to get over-excited, but then all one has to do is look at him and know that he has lost 45 pounds in just four months. He usually weighed approximately 210 pounds, last week he weighed 176 and now he weighs in at 165. The words of his Nephrologist (one of his kidney doctors), uttered two weeks ago, continue to invade my thoughts.

    “Mr. Vogel, you are still a very sick man.”

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  • Dealing With Cancer XIX

    02/23/2016~ Once or twice a year, for the last several years, Jim has gotten together with a group from an old unit to have lunch together. Jim had never missed one of these lunches until the last one they had, Jim was in the hospital. They called a another lunch for Tuesday, 02/24/2016 and Jim wanted to go. They always meet at El Novillero, which is only two miles from our house, and I felt confident he could do this alone.

    He did not really ask to do it alone, but he seemed grateful when I told him to have fun! Most of the time he seems so needy, and I am happy to be needed, but there are some things he needs to do on his own, without me. I will not intrude, though he would never call it an intrusion…

    He was so happy when he came home. It seems they had called this lunch especially for him, and bought him his lunch. He was so excited he even celebrated with an O’Doul’s!

    THIS is what life is all about!


  • Dealing With Cancer XVIII

    02/22/2016~ Jim wanted to enjoy the sun today, so he took a ride with me as I went to the Kaiser Pharmacy at Point West and the grocery store. We were on an adventure! The day was pleasant, the sun was warm, and we marveled at how fun retirement would be once we got over this cancer hurdle.

    We stopped at McDonald’s along the way so Jim could satisfy his craving for a Big Mac and small fries. He sat in the car and ate while I went into the pharmacy. When I came out it was time for the store, Jim had been writing a grocery list while I was gone. We got to the grocery store and I walked around the back of the car to the other side. Jim had retrieved the reusable grocery bags from the back seat and he was holding on to the car with one hand.

    “I just got a little light headed for a moment,” Jim said, responding to my look of concern.

    “Are you up for this?” I asked giving him an ‘out’ if he needed it.

    “Yes,” he replied with determination in his voice.

    We got home with our groceries and I told Jim to go rest. He was completely drained, but he insisted on getting the groceries out of the back of our Forester and setting them on the back porch. We have been parking the car in the back, inside the gate, and it was only three steps from the porch.

    He let me take two pictures tonight!!

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    He is just as handsome as he was the day I met him!!


  • Dealing With Cancer XVII

    02/18/2016~ Day nine of the rest period between Chemotherapy cycles and Jim is getting bored. He wants to be able to do things, to get some of his old energy back. He would like to be able to go to the bathroom without getting winded; to go upstairs without having have to stop and rest; to take a leisurely walk around the block.

    “Will I ever get back to normal?”

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    I don’t know if he will ever get normal, whatever that is. Jim has never been “normal,” he has always been younger than his age. If I had a dime for every time someone asked if I was older than him, I’d be a rich woman! He is six and a half years older than I am, and at age 62, he might be looking his age, finally. He was losing his hair so he had me give him a butch cut, but even then, his hair is patchy. He did grow a beard and mustache, which I love, but the Chemotherapy made it hard and we still do not know if he will lose that with more chemo.

    To me, he is as gorgeous as ever and I let him know every day…


  • Dealing With Cancer XVI

    2/15/2016~ Day six of the rest period between chemo cycles.

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    We fully expect Jim to be able to wash the car again very soon, but right now he is too weak. He has to stop and catch his breath just going to the bathroom, and herein lies his frustration. He wants to get back to normal RIGHT NOW, and how can I blame him.

    The edema in his legs and right arm have subsided thanks to the diuretic, but his left arm and hand remains swollen. He is trying hard to concentrate on the need to “treat” his left arm and hand by keeping it up. This way he can “justify” resting and healing.

    He is going crazy… my poor ADD hubby is finding it harder than ever to accept that he needs the rest and he needs to heal. The fact is, he does not have the strength to do anything else and that frustrates him more than anything.

    Do you remember that I mentioned he was sleeping in the easy chair in the living room? He is sill afraid to lay in bed because he might lose his breath… imagine for a moment feeling like you are choking and cannot breathe. When his red blood cell count gets low, this is how he feels, and that is one of the side effects of chemo. There is no place for me to sleep downstairs… I think he feels lonely by himself.