Sunday, September 13, 2009

"You have six months....maybe a year if on chemo."


It's not what we expected to hear from the surgeon. Apparently the tumor was so large and too close to the bladder to be taken out.

The oncologist was much more optimistic. He thought the chemotherapy would not only shrink my uncle's tumor enough to be removed but any remaining spots on the liver would be wiped out completely as well.

"He's my everything," my aunt said as her voice broke into a cry.

It's been an emotional roller coaster this week and that's putting it mildly. You're up then you're down, then down some more. Good news, bad news, and something in between.

A get well card from one of my aunt's 3rd grade students

When my uncle wasn't allowed solids for several days, he joked to the nurse, "I'll give you $1,000 for a big mac!"

I spend most of the day with him at the hospital and the nights with my aunt. They're the oldest relatives I have and also my godparents. The ones I look up to....to lead the way and be strong.

When suddenly they're both struggling to keep it together, who will lead the way now?

A few people have mentioned it's a good thing I've been laid off because I'm the only real family member that's free to stay with both of them during this difficult time. That's somewhat comforting. I've also been told several times that I'd make an excellent nurse!

It's been over a week since I've really drawn or painted anything. I really haven't had the time and my mind is preoccupied with other things. And as you all know....life gets in the way sometimes.

26 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

seriously crying....for you, your uncle, aunt...my own memories.

You are a strong, wonderful person making yourself so available to them...I know from experience being a care giver takes alot out of you, remember to get a little "me" time...even if its only five minutes with a book, a walk...take care of yourself so you can continue to be strong for them.

Bless you on your journey my friend..

Dane said...

I'm sorry about your uncle's illness. I hope some sunshine comes your way soon.

Deborah@ The Painted Nest said...

Dean,
You are a wonderful human being!! A beautiful soul!! In times like these it's such a blessing to have people who have so much love inside them to comfort and just be there! LOVE is such a positive energy!!!! And you dear, have so much of it to give away! And in return you too, will draw it to yourself!! I'll be praying for your sweet family and of course (YOU)!!
Always in my prayers,
Deborah

James said...

For as long as I pray my prayers are with your uncle, his family, and you.

Pilgrim said...

Finnaly you srat to make sense again, Dean. Selfdestruction leads to nothing. All the best for your uncle and aunt. Propz Pilgrim

naturgesetz said...

I don't know how I missed your post earlier this week. I'm sorry to learn of your uncle's cancer, and sorry that the prognosis seems worse than it did earlier. I hope all will go as well as possible and that the doctors will treat him with the highest level of skill.

As I mentioned, that phenomenon of family members being totally there for one another is something I didn't see growing up either, but now I've witnessed it, not with anything so serious but just as a day-to-day way of life, with my PEI cousins. It is inspiring and also challenging in a way.

It's good that you can be part of the family circle supporting your uncle and aunt at this time.

Sheila said...

I am so sorry to learn about you Uncle. He does sound like he has a great attitude. How lucky he is to have a tender and sweet soul around while he fights this. Hugs to you both.

Dean Grey said...

Steven!

I'm sure my current family situation reminds you of your own family's struggle with cancer.

I will try taking your advice and give myself some "me" time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dane!

Thanks for the kind words!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Deborah!

You're right. Love is a powerful force to give and receive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

James!

Thanks for the prayers! We'll take as many as we can get!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pilgrim!

Right now I'm focused on my family so naturally my self-destructive ways are gone....for a while.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

naturgesetz!

A supportive family can indeed go a long way!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sheila!

Glad to have you back! Thank you for the hugs!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I appreciate EVERYONE'S well wishes!!

-Dean

Meeko Fabulous said...

Dean, my heart goes out to you and your family. My mom always says that God repays acts of kindness tenfold. :)

Gwen Bell said...

Dean, I'm so sorry to hear your dear Uncle is going through such a rough time.

I know it sucks being laid off but somehow things always work out as they should. I know both your Aunt & Uncle appreciate you love and ability to be by their side with care and support right now.

A nurse, huh? Maybe this whole cosmic experiment is leading you down a new and unexpected detour? The world needs more nurses who genuinely love and care about what they have chosen to do.

Hugs and Prayers,
Gwen

Tracey Clarke said...

you are doing exactly what you are supposed to...you always have art. you won't always have your family.pr

Dean Grey said...

Meeko!

I appreciate the kind words!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gwen!

I'm not so sure about being a nurse. I don't think I could stand being around all those needles!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tracey!

You are absolutely right! My art will always be there for me but the time with my family isn't guaranteed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks to the three of you!!

-Dean

Paula Villanova said...

Dean, how awful to hear those words...and see someone you love have to face such serious illness. It's so good that you can be available to offer support and comfort, at least for the moment; maybe it's all part of a bigger plan...prayers for you, your dear uncle, and your family. (And what a fantastic card!)

Anonymous said...

Dear Dean,

Uncle Bill sounds like a strong and powerful presence in your life. My prayers and positive thoughts are with him and you.

Maybe there is a plan. You have the time to gift to your aunt and uncle. Be a fearless advocate for them.

Just re-read the article from last April, when you were so excited he quit cold turkey after years of smoking. Could this be the time for a second opinion?

Be well. Take good care of your aunt and uncle.

Best,
Alex

Dean Grey said...

Paula!

Isn't that card wonderful? Children have such an imaginative way with color and images.

My aunt received about 25 cards from her third grade class (she's a school teacher). This was just one of many.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex!

To be fearless is easier said than done but I will try.

Getting a second opinion for my uncle's diagnosis is something my aunt and uncle will have to discuss in the weeks ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I appreciate the prayers from both of you!!

-Dean

Carolina said...

Things do happen for a reason, God's hand can be seen here so clearly... I'll pray for your uncle tonight with my kids...
Best regards,
Carolina

Anonymous said...

You need a seat belt for the tumultuous challenges you are facing right now in life. Try to keep your center if you can. I know your life seems like it's in the toilet right now but just try to remember the old expression that "when it rains it pours." Sometimes these days just come to make us stronger.

Ryan.

pathetic prophet said...

Dean, my heart breaks, but I know my God. He has a wonderful plan through all this, woven into a beautiful tapestry that includes all of you. "I know my thoughts toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil that you might come to an expected end." Be strong for yourself and your family and watch God work something good out of this.

window dressing said...

It sounds like being laid off did come as a blessing to your relatives. We never know when something so negative could turn into a positive.
I've been through this with my dad and no one said it is easy but hang in there because it seems that you are a real comfort to both of them.

Dean Grey said...

Carolina!

Thank you for the prayers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryan!

It does seem like things are in the toilet right about now but I'll try to stay centered....if I can.

Hmmm...."When it rains it pours"??? But I love the rain!

I appreciate the nice words!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

pathetic prophet!

I hope you are right!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

window dressing!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

It's definitely not easy but I know my aunt and uncle are struggling right now. I'm just trying to help out as much as I can and give them one less thing to worry about.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I appreciate the thoughtful comments from all of you!

-Dean

L.Holm said...

Dean - am so sorry to hear about your uncle. It really does sound like your aunt and uncle and cousin have good attitudes. 90% of the battle honestly. They're lucky to have you there. Hope the oncologist is right. Chemo's hell (been there), but worth it if it works. Sending good thoughts your way. Stay strong, Dean.

Dean Grey said...

Liz!

I'm trying to stay strong but it's not easy.

Thanks for the good thoughts!!

-Dean

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

You WILL stay strong, Dean, for them. It is a gift that you are able to stay with your uncle during the day. So much happens because there is no one there except the patient - and they're in no condition to keep track of things! One suggestion: get a moleskin sketch/notebook. When you're uncle's dozing, just WRITE. Write anything. Just let it go. When he's awake sketch him, the flowers in the room, and the view from the window - and show them to him (maybe 2 moleskin notebooks ....). It'll give him something to think about BESIDES this awful diagnosis, and it'll help you clarify things in your own life. You are a good man to help them like this. God Bless.

Dean Grey said...

Kelley!

Thanks for the suggestions.

Earlier in the week I did sketch the bed my uncle slept in while at the hospital. I also wrote in my journal while waiting for him to recover.

That's at least a little creative outlet for me, right?

Thanks again!

-Dean

Renee said...

How lucky they would be to have you Dean.

It is a hard road.

How is your uncle?

Love Renee xoxo

Dean Grey said...

Renee!

You of all people would understand.

He continues to receive chemotherapy treatments, though not as many as planned due to his blood cells not being up to par.

We're just trying to take it day by day.

What else can we do, after all?

-Dean