Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anniversary (by Susan)

The last few weeks have been interesting - filled with many ups and downs.  As George posted, he had a scare with the Bleomycin - the doctors at the cancer center were worried that he could be at risk for getting "bleo lung", which could make him a permanent lung cripple.  The doctors are very aware of George's athleticism, and don't want to do anything that could compromise it.    So, he had lots of tests, and is now off of Bleomycin and has substituted Prednisone instead.  The Prednisone has the double effect of reducing any lung inflammation that he might have, and it is also a cancer fighter in its own right, so has been substituted in George's chemo regimen.  

If you know anyone who is on Prednisone, you know that it can make a person driven and hyper, and this has happened to George to a certain extent.  Kyle and I have been giving him a hard time about his "roid rage".  He's not really full of rage - he just wants to get up and start doing projects.  For example, this morning he got up and fixed our shower door at 5:30 a.m.   I went for a nice early morning run in the drizzle and when I got back it was all ready for me to take my shower.  He also was painting the bathroom and taking my bike into the shop to get a new gear cluster put on the back wheel.  It's nuts, because this new regimen has the combined effect of improving George's lung power and making him feel more energetic.  Plus being off the bleo has made the last round of chemo less severe.  All in all, he is starting to feel better and, with only four more chemo sessions to go, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Two weeks ago was George's and my 9th wedding anniversary.    It made me start thinking about things that can happen during a marriage.  When you get married, you (usually) do it with the highest of hopes - you never think anything bad is going to happen and you only think about the big plans you have for the future.  Well, life has a way of changing your plans!   Within 16 months of our wedding I was diagnosed with breast cancer and seven years later George was diagnosed with Hogdkins lymphoma.  Does that seem unfair?  Do we have "bad luck"?  Just the opposite: in looking back on it, I think we really have had good luck and I wouldn't trade any of it.  Does that seem strange?  When I was down with multiple surgeries in 2004, George was the best possible partner  that a person could ever have.  He seemed like an angel to me - he was so loving and understanding and supportive.  I realized I could lean on him and let him be strong for both of us during that time.

Now, through George's illness and treatment, I have to be the strong one, and I relish the opportunity to give George back even just a fraction of what he has given me.  I have seen him through the worst possible down times, and his strength and determination to get through this almost barbaric treatment just makes me love and admire him more.  I know it sounds like a cliche, but we get to realize that we are more than our hair, our athletic performance,  or (in my case) our missing body parts.

I know George will say that this is hokey - that he doesn't feel he has gained wisdom from any of this, that it just sucks and he would trade all of his so-called wisdom to go back to being superbly healthy and being able to not think about it.  And, selfishly speaking, I would like to be able to think that George will always be strong and healthy and better than me at everything (except singing).   But I would never have been able to see this side of George's tremendous heart and spirit.

I was reading a little bit about Lance Armstrong's Live Strong foundation today.  When I was diagnosed with cancer his book really helped me.  Because, I thought, if Lance can get through this and not give up and go on to win the Tour de France, then I can do it too.   And that's what I want to do, and what I want George to do - to live strong, to not give up on our dreams, to do all the things we were put on this earth to do.

So, we are going to do the things we love.  We are going to be seeing all of our kids here in Colorado starting this weekend with Ross and Maruja flying in from the Netherlands.  My Mom and brother Jim will also be visiting next week,  and then Greg and Lindsay and Caitlyn the following week.  Kyle is here all along.  With Celia and Brady, we are going to have one big family party.  We are going to train for the Copper Triangle bike tour and see how far we get.  AND - best of all, we are planning a trip with just the two of us when George's treatment is done.   Take THAT cancer!


  1. So inspirational! What a model the two of you provide for how to have a powerfully successful partnership. I am so grateful that Dad has you through all of this. His courage and spirit through the chemo have been inspirational to me too. I can't wait for CO and the crusty butt...woop woop!

    Much love,

  2. They say there are no foxhole atheists and there are probably no foxhole soloists that wouldn't mind a little company when life's artillery starts raining down on you. We know some people in the cancer community that have to battle through issues without as much support as we have and you can see how hard it is on them. As Lee reminds me every once in a while, we are primates. We like, need and do better with other primates around us. So when you're cruising through the mountains on the way to a laid back weekend and you get a call from your PA telling that you that you have to make a decision on a medication that might kill or cripple you in the short term, vs. not taking it and having the absence of the drug kill you in 10 years, that call is a lot easier to take when you can turn your head and talk it through with your soul mate. Still a pretty intense experience but when there are two of you to process it, it seems a whole bunch more doable...