Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Never a dull moment."

Five months ago our family found out my uncle had stage 4 colon cancer. I told my aunt during the initial hospital visit that I'd spend the night by them for just a couple days. I've been helping them out almost every day since!

"It's not easy taking care of a sick person," my uncle told me earlier this week. "One can get impatient, irritated, angry. It's not easy."

Endless hospital visits, long chemotherapy treatments, and going for weekly blood tests. Having to keep track of all the shots he has to get. Neulasta, Neumega, Procrit. Plus changing colostomy supplies daily.

At times it can be exhausting and overwhelming....and I'm not even the one who has cancer!

But if I can make things easier for both of them then it'll be worth it.

Sketch of my aunt and uncle's living room end table

When I'm depressed about not working at the moment, my aunt is quick to point out that it allowed me to help them and that she couldn't do it by herself.

"God sent you to me," she assuredly said. "He wanted you here."

That's a lovely notion. I wonder if God will send someone to me. In time perhaps.....

The 8th chemotherapy treatment is two weeks away and by then we'll know the results of the CT scans to see if the tumor has shrunk or not.

That's how these past several months have been. You never know what the next day will bring. Always a deluge of emotions mixed together. Fear, anxiety, nervousness, relief, gratitude. There are quiet times and then everything happens all at once.

"I tell ya, Dean, there's never a dull moment around here," my aunt joked. "I want more dull moments!"

I couldn't agree more, Auntie. I couldn't agree more.


robertga99 said...

I'm so sorry to hear that! It's hard for the person going thru the treatment but it's also takes a lot out of the caregivers. Stay Strong

BTW....great sketch

Joey said...

Dean -

I remember watching my dad and my aunt taking care of my ailing grandmother in the last months and years of her life. My aunt put everything in her life on hold for about 2 years to care for my grandmother. My aunt is an incredible woman. She was the one writing down every doctors visit, every prescription, every insurance call, etc. She was the one taking my grandmother to the numerous doctors appointments. In the last year of my grandmother's life, my aunt never left my grandmother's bedside unless it was necessary. Her strength through all of this was amazing. There was one point where my grandmother and grandfather were both hospitalized. They were in separate hospitals about 40 miles from each other. The family hit dephcon 1 and we all took to the care of my grandparents. Every weekend I would travel to my aunt's side and help care for my grandparents. We all would take turns at the different hospitals.

Through all of that, I was simply amazed by my aunt's strength, determination, organization, and emotional strength. I see a lot of that in you. You made the decision to care for your ailing uncle, but you are also help to take care of your aunt who could not do this without you.

I know it has been tough for you. I wish I could be in Chicago just to give you a hug and to tell you that there is a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

I also have no doubt that God will send someone to you. Yes, it is just that "in time" part that we all hate.

Keep trudging forward knowing we are here to help support and care for you the best we can.

take care,

PS...The sketch is incredible. Your talents in art are awe-inspiring. Never lose that gift.

Unknown said...

Very moving, Dean! Wonderful post on a very sad reality...

Dean Grey said...


Thanks Bob!



The family members you described sound more like my aunt than me. She is there for EVERY hospital visit and saves EVERY piece of documentation, taking notes on just about everything!



That means a lot!


I always appreciate hearing from you three gentlemen!


Anonymous said...

I agree with your aunt, God gave you the time because they would need you, life seems to work that way.....I know this process all to well, as you know.....Im sorry for you and your family and you are all in my prayers.

chin up, stay strong;)

Bob said...

Great post.
My mother passed away from lung cancer three eyars ago this month, and i know how hard it is on the family, as well as the patient.
Your aunt is quite lucky to have you there to help, and something good will come out of it.
It always does.

Manon said...

You're a great guy, Dean! Maybe you were meant to do this for your aunt and uncle. Fate.... I believe it! It's a very hard thing to go through..... you're strong!!
Your sketch is wonderful!!

jason said...

Ah...I think your aunt is right.
But I've been more than once in the caretaker's shoes. It makes you realize what's important, as cliche as that sounds.

I'm praying for the best up there.

David K Small, artist said...

What goes around comes around - you will be so blessed.

bK said...

It's very awesome of you to help out your aunt and uncle so relentlessly, definitely not an easy thing to do. -Hugs-

Very nice drawing!

Mike said...

It's a tough time you're going through - wnet through something similar with my mum about ten years ago. Cancer is such an unpredictable thing to deal with emotionally.

Hang on in there.

Positive thoughts heading your way, as always.

Kris said...

I can't imagine being in your Aunt's shoes, or yours. Hang in there.

It's so sad, this is the 4th stage 4 cancer that I've heard in the last couple of months.

We Blog Artists said...

Hey,you're doing an amazing thing for your Uncle and for your Aunt...
That's HUGE!
I am always taken with people who have SO much to give...I know you are given what you can cope I said...this is HUGE what you're doing.
When you have time to LOVE'll meet that person.
You deserve it.
Have a great Sunday.

Dean Grey said...


I know you've gone through similar things when you had to take care of your mother.



I'm sorry to hear you can relate to this!



Fate, huh? Sometimes I believe that, sometimes I don't.



Not only does it make you realize what's important but it shifts your way of thinking about things in general.



Only time will tell if that holds true, David!



I like your use of the word "relentlessly". That's very appropriate here!



I appreciate the positive thoughts!



Oh no! I didn't mean to bum you out.



That's very nice of you to say, Char!


Thanks to all of you for the supportive words!


Octavius said...

As admirable as it is what you are doing, I don't think God supplies a paycheck or health care program.

Still I do admire your sacrifice. I just hope you are looking after yourself at the same time.

I miss you mate.But I do understand that you are under a lot of pressure at the moment.


stanw said...


Your sketch is so wonderful, I am a fan; Oh yeah, guess you know that!

Also am praying for your uncle and also his wife for strength for both of them in this difficult time.

Your are doing a good thing being there for them. You will have that person/persons who will be there of you and a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. We all so need that.

Take good care.

Unknown said...

You have been doing this for quite a while haven't you. You're doing the right thing and venting to us instead of whining to them.

Your uncle and aunt know how fortunate they are to have you in their lives right now. I just feel you are filling up that Karma bank and who knows what the next chapter will bring to you my friend.

Extra hugs for Dean!!!!

Unknown said...

You're doing a great thing for your aunt and uncle, Dean. I don't agree that a god sent you, but if that is the way your aunt feels then it gives her comfort.

naturgesetz said...

It is so good of you to do all this for your aunt and uncle. For the rest of your life it will give you real satisfaction to know that you were so unselfish and helpful in a time of need.

You're a good man.

Randuwa said...


I first saw this post when no replies were present and I didn't know what to say. I'm glad I waited, others have proven more articulate than I. My 2 cents: Cherish each day and absorb all of the goodness and grace and love that they hold. May the love you give rebound to you in the love you receive, always! That's my thought...the universe has a certain economy to it after all.

Mike said...

Just being there means a lot to your aunt I am sure. I know how hard illness is. Been through it with several relatives- grandma, grandpa, etc. It is never easy. There is the fear, joy, anxiety, nervousness, bouts of happiness, and everything in between.

That is a BEAUTIFUL sketch btw.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dean,

Sending hope, strength and good spirits your way.
Your post and the time stamp...5:51am show how completely giving you are to your aunt and uncle.

May you, your auntie, and uncle all share some dull moments together. Your uncle is a hero for enduring the treatments.

Take care of yourself, so you can continue to be strong. Yeah....someone will be sent your way.
You will also manifest success in illustration.
From my keyboard to god's ear!


Winter said...

take care dean. hugs.

Dean Grey said...


I'm looking after myself as best I can!



Thanks for the kind words!



That's a LOT of hugs!!


green and purple!

I understand where you're coming from. Not everyone is as religious as my aunt.



That's comforting to hear!



Thank you for the advice!



I'm glad you like the sketch!



That's very nice of you to say, Alex!



Hugs back at ya!


Everyone's thoughtful comments are greatly appreciated!


Dave said...

I wonder if God will send someone to me. In time perhaps.....
Sometimes you have to go out and get that person. Don't wait too long.

Dean Grey said...


I've tried going after "that" person in the past and it never seems to work. All I ever do is wait!

*shrugs shoulders*


My Flow Chart said...

Dean are you the only relative around who can help? Might be nice if there was another(s) to give you a break sometimes. My thoughts are with you all.

J@v@JuNKo said...

:)aaw, I've been there, I lived in a hospital, sleeping in a chair for 6 months by my partner's bedside taking care of him when he was battling cancer. You are a great man and a beautiful spirit to do what you are doing. Its not easy at all and it's very exhausting, but you still do it. Stay strong, take care of yourself too cause it's an exhausting emotional ride you're on. i wish your uncle all the best!....your sketch is beautiful!

Dean Grey said...

My Flow Chart!

All the other family members are either working or live out of state. It's really just me, my aunt, and my uncle right now.



I'm sorry you had to go through that. You're right, it's not easy and very exhausting.

I appreciate the well wishes!


Thanks to both of you gentlemen!


Anonymous said...

There are no such things as 'coincidences' in life. As your Aunt said, you ARE there for a reason. And you give something of yourself that cannot be bought - your time and care.

Kelley Carey MacDonald said...

Dean, I do believe you are one of the sweetest persons on the planet. You WERE out of work for a reason. The people who have loved you for so long needed you. It's hard now, but later you will not regret having done it. sketch your aunt. Your Uncle, their home. Good. Good for you. xoxox

Dean Grey said...


Thank you, Corey!



You're always so nice to me!


I always appreciate what you two have to say!


Writer said...

You are a good man. Sorry about your uncle. Your drawing reminded me: when my great-grandpa died, my aunt, who used to teach art and now throws pottery, sat and did a collage drawing - meaning, she took old photographs of grandpa and drew them onto a sheet as though they'd been collaged together.

Take care.

Unknown said...

Dean, I think your aunt is right about God sending your help. They obviously need you. I'm glad to see you are sketching in your probably rare quiet moments. Keep creating, God will send someone to you, I really believe it.

ryan field said...

Caregivers don't realize how exhausting it can be. I've been a caregiver and I know. Take time for yourself, too. It's very important.

Dean Grey said...


I appreciate the thoughtful words!



I hope you're right!



I'll try taking time for myself but there never seems to be any time!


Thanks to the three of you!


ryan field said...

"I'll try taking time for myself but there never seems to be any time!"

You have to make the time. Trust me on this :)

Leslie Hawes said...

So glad you have your sketchbook, Dean.
Someone will be sent, In Time, without doubt. And A lucky one, at that.

Dean Grey said...


I trust you!



I hope you're right about that!


The words of wisdom from both of you are greatly appreciated!


suzanneberry said...

Dean, you are so brave, so giving. Your posts are almost too painful to read for me sitting here whining about nothing. God Bless you. I'm humbled by your giving.

L.Holm said...

Dean - you are a saint for helping them. I've been through chemo, and know 1st hand how important it is to have help and emotional support, and I'm a care-taker now, and also know how exhausting it can be. Bless you for helping your aunt and uncle. Not everyone would--even if they had the time. Sending good thoughts your family's way for a good outcome on the CT scan. Oh, and wishing you some dull moments :-D

Dean Grey said...


You are too kind!



Bless you and your mom as well! I often think about you both when helping my aunt and uncle.


Thanks to the pair of you for the thoughtful words!