Friday, 16 April 2021

Still Standing

Hello, friends.

Thank you for your kind comments and for continuing to check in here.

I also want you to know that I read many of your blog posts and am thankful for both the distraction and the chance to keep up with your lives.

I want to tell you more about my husband's illness and death, and how things have been since then. There is a purpose to this beyond bringing you up to date. You will see what it is by the end of the post.

For a few weeks after my husband's death, I ran on adrenaline. I had deadlines at work, I had bills to pay, and I had a lot of paperwork to do. The paperwork was overwhelming and I was fortunate to have my brother's help in prioritizing it and making a plan to get it done. Everything that seemed like it should be straightforward, wasn't. Everything that seemed like it should happen quickly, didn't. It was exhausting thinking about it and then it was exhausting making the phone calls and writing the emails and mailing forms and documents away. Finally, it was exhausting not knowing how long it would take to hear if problems had been resolved.

After that initial frenzy of work and paperwork came a lull. Suddenly it felt like all the energy had been sucked out of me. I continued to work because the concentration my job requires gave me some daily mental relief from the sadness and grief. Many days I felt like I could barely take the steps it required to get out the door. And when I left work to come home, I wouldn't get more than a few steps out that door before reality, and the accompanying pain, came into full focus again. I felt broken, and I wondered if I would ever feel any different. Even with the support of my family, friends, and neighbours, it felt like I couldn't get rid of the massive boulder that seemed to sit on my chest. I was never far from tears, and I was lousy company. The scenes from the past year, and especially that last month, played over and over in my head when I had time to think and nothing to distract me. The grief over how he suffered and died was as bad as the grief over losing him.

Cancer is a horrible disease. Esophageal cancer may be one of the worse forms. I don't know - I haven't had much experience with other ones. What I do know is that my husband wasted away from a robust person to a skeleton in a matter of months. His last month was horrifying beyond anything I had expected. With the help of the local palliative care team, I was able to look after him at home. It was what he and I both wanted, and I am thankful I could do that for him, because there was nothing else I could do.

He went through so much pain before he was even diagnosed. He didn't get the pain treatment he needed until he was admitted to the palliative care program three months before his death. For the last month, I was shown how to give him injections of powerful medications through a subcutaneous line, but as quickly as his dosages were increased his pain and breathlessness increased too. It felt like we were always chasing the symptoms and rarely catching up. For his last couple of weeks he required medications every sixty to ninety minutes, day and night. Fortunately, palliative care also provided some respite time for me to sleep. They also tried to assure me that I was doing as much for him at home as would have been done if he had gone into the palliative care unit in the hospital. But that didn't help his suffering or my desperation and guilt.

If you're not familiar with esophageal cancer, you may be wondering why it wasn't caught sooner. The problem is that it doesn't produce clear symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage.

Fatigue is an early symptom, but there are so many causes of fatigue. My husband had bloodwork done a year before his other symptoms started, because he had been feeling so tired. But nothing was found.

Indeed, even after his swallowing issues began, he was sent for more bloodwork and again nothing was found. Finally a CT scan was ordered, which took six weeks to happen, despite several followups and pleas by us. By then he could only tolerate liquids and had lost a lot of weight. He had a stent put in his esophagus to help him swallow, and started chemo, the mildest course available because he was so frail. Neither surgery nor radiation were options because of the advanced stage of the disease.

We were told by the chemo doctor that finding the cancer six weeks or six months or even six years earlier wouldn't have made a difference. I wonder about that that last part, and eventually I may ask my doctor if that's true or if the chemo doctor got carried away with his sixes. However, the fact that my husband was fatigued for so long prior to developing other symptoms leads me to believe that finding the cancer even two years earlier would probably not have changed the outcome. And I have spoken with folks who knew other people with the same kind of cancer. Even those whose cancer was found early enough that they could have surgery or radiation never went back to being healthy; instead, their treatment seemed to only prolong their discomfort and pain.

My husband was a long-time smoker, and we were told that's what caused his esophageal cancer. He had tried to quit a number of times, and succeeded a number of times. But he always went back to it as a way of dealing with stress. Some people would say, or at least think, that he deserved what happened. But I can tell you this: as much as I hated everything about the smoking, nobody deserves the kind of death he had.   

Smoking is just one of the risk factors for esophageal cancer. Obesity and long-term heartburn are the others. Smokers are often ostracized these days, but how many folks with obesity and heartburn do you know? Quite a few, I bet. You know one, at least - me. My heartburn is well-controlled but I've been taking strong medication for thirty years.And I tend to be a stress eater, which is no better than stress smoking.

The reason I have explained all of this is to try to encourage people to listen to their bodies and to be aware of the risk factors. My husband would have needed to really push his doctor to investigate his fatigue further when the initial blood tests came back negative, but that wasn't him. Many people are like him - unwilling to make a fuss or question the medical results. He was also a very stoic person. People, do not be stoic. If you feel something is wrong, keep pushing to find out what it could be. You know your body best; after all, you have lived in it your entire life.

This has been a long post. If you are still reading, thank you.

I hope to be back soon. Until then, take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

70 comments:

  1. It's easy to blame a smoker for the illnesses they have but it's a nasty, lazy way to think. Nobody blames the woman who drinks too much for her breast cancer or the person who never ate a vegetable for their bowel cancer.
    I'm sorry it was all so distressing, the powerlessness and trauma just compounds the grief.
    Slowly, carefully you will rebuild. I know it.

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    1. Thank you, Kylie. A couple of weeks ago I wouldn't have thought rebuilding was possible, I was in so much distress. Now I think I am starting to get there.

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  2. No one deserves to go through what your husband went through. Ms. S, my elderly client who suffers so much with COPD and asthma and still smokes doesn't deserve to go through what she goes through. It's awful, and the hold of the nicotine is awful, and my heart aches that you and your husband had such an experience.

    Thank you for the reminder to listen to our bodies.

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    1. Thanks, Mimi - it's so true what you said about the hold of the nicotine. For certain people the nicotine affects the brain worse and creates a real addiction. Others do not experience it the same way. I feel for your client. COPD is so debilitating.

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  3. Heartfelt hugs dear friend. My father was a stoic. By the time he saw a doctor and the cancer that killed him was diagnosed it was too late. My partner is also a stoic. A STUPID stoic. The morning his bowel ruptured he was busy telling me he was fine and that he would go to the doctor 'in a day or two' if the pain persisted. I called an ambulance (which pissed him off to the max). By the time he arrived at hospital he was dying. Seven (or eight) abdominal operations later he is fine.
    Stoicism is dangerous.

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    1. You are so right, EC. Do stoics experience pain differently from other people, I wonder? Or are they in denial? Or something else? Part of what kept my husband stoic was not wanting to know how bad the situation was. Of course, by then it would have been too late anyhow. Those of us who love our stoic family members suffer along with them when they are in pain and danger, too. It's frustrating and ultimately it can be very sad. Hugs, my friend.

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    2. Denial certainly has a part to play in my stoic in chief's behaviour. The first time his lung collapsed he flatly refused to go to the doctor because (I found out later) he thought he had had a heart attack and didn't want to know. Delays the next two times were for different reasons and the third particularly dangerous. It collapsed while he was overseas and he finished his holiday and then flew home!!!! When I finally got him to hospital a day after his return the hospital staff were gobsmacked that he survived.

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    3. Your partner's survival is amazing considering his very serious challenges. And yet, they don't seem to learn, do they?? It's a good thing he has you in his corner!

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  4. Great post. I did read to the end. As one of my friends said about losing his wife, "It's a life altering experience. Males have some difficulty recognizing problems with their body. I'm sure many people will appreciate your advice. Two of my former students recently lost their husbands. their grief was acute. You are doing the right things.

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    1. Thanks for reading and your perceptive comments, Red. Yes, it seems to be more often males who put off getting help. That creates two problems: men who don't get the help they need, and the perception by doctors that women tend to be over-worried about their health. Both things are detrimental to getting good treatment.

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  5. Dear, dear Jenny--I knew a woman who died of esophageal cancer. It was awful, it was fifty years ago, and it is no different. We will love you forever; please drop in once in a while and tell us how you are. And the children, who lost their father.

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    1. Thank you, Joanne. I don't think there has been much progress with diagnosing or treating esophageal cancer. Our adult children are doing okay - thank you for asking. They have lived away from home for quite a while now, so they are one step removed from facing the loss every day.

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  6. I'm so sorry to hear he had this horrible type of cancer, and even more sorry to hear it can't be detected early enough to get proper help. I know my mother died from being unable to swallow, but she began with bowel cancer which eventually spread throughout her body, eventually reaching her throat until all she could swallow was coffee and even then only trickled down her throat as the swallowing was gone. She eventually took herself to hospital and died a week later.
    I didn't know about heartburn possibly causing esophageal cancer, I got heartburn from my blood pressure tabs, but take a different tablet now at the same time to stop the heartburn, thank goodness.
    I'm glad to hear you are still around and reading and hope you continue to stay well.

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    1. Thank you, River. I'm so sorry your mother had such a hard time before she died. It must have been awful for her and for those watching it happen. I'm glad your heartburn is well controlled with different medication.

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  7. It is good to hear from you. I have thought of you so much. What you describe that you and your husband have gone through is such a horrible nightmare. I am so very sorry.

    You give excellent advice to others and it means so much more knowing that it comes from someone who's been there unfortunately. Cancer is such a nightmare. I lost my Mother and one of my brothers to it when they were in their early 60's. My other brother is now about to start radiation for cancer. I am another person that is overweight and has had long term heartburn and reflux. I have taken prescriptions for it longer than I can remember. My doctor has mentioned to me that I should have an upper GI scope and I didn't want to do it because I am nervous about those types of tests. But I have been thinking about you and your husband a lot recently and the next time I see my doctor in early May I am going to agree to have the scope done. Thank you for your encouragement.

    I am so sorry for all you are going through. Please know this post will help others.



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    1. Bonnie, thank you for your kindness. I'm glad you will try to have the scope done.I understand your nervousness and feel the same way, so much so that I still have not been able to bring myself to have it done. You are braver than I am. Even having seen my husband's situation, I am still terrified to have it done. Maybe after more folks are vaccinated and I can get to talk to my doctor in person ...

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  8. Thank you for taking your time to write this. No one deserves dying in pain and mísery, and I'm sure you did all you could and then a bit. Take good care of yourself and thanks for the warning. We all know a stoic or two.

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    1. Thank you, Charlotte. Yes, you're right - we all know a stoic. And wish they would look after themselves more.

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  9. precious friend Jenny it is such a relief to have you back .believe it or not you were constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

    i don't know you physically yet it felt i am there watching you bearing this pain and trying to survive with all your strength.It was nice that you took help from business as i know it helps alot .when my parents passed away during one year it was first overwhelming trauma of my life and i found there is something so heavy is placed in my chest just like you and to remove it i went for job for few years.
    i will never think or say that he deserved this death because he smoked .My father was chain smoker and i rise being watch him smoking one to two packets in a day. he did not quit till his death and he had no such disease ever ,his death was result of fall that broke his hip .sister of my father was great fond of sugar ,she would take sugar in each cup four tea spoons or even more and she was regular tea drinker throughout her life ,she never diagnosed with sugar though she never exercised or took walk.unlike her my mother who was always really cautious about her health was diagnosed with sugar in her sixties .i meant to say that i don't think it is always smoking that causes cancer or any other disease .this is just coincidence that some people are blamed for their health issues .there are cases where people do so much care and still fall ill. i believe here comes luck or fate .and this is what we have no control over so i think you should not trouble yourself with such thoughts.i think we are in the hands of destiny and forced to do our hundred percent efforts to keep things right and then leave it to Him the Creator.you were fortunate for having chance to look after him.that must ease your soul forever .
    your sharing will help many others to stop and think and take precaution indeed.
    thinking of you with prays and deep love and best wishes for life you have with your loved ones dear Jenny !
    you are fighter and i am sure lord will reward you with great strength to come out of it!
    hugs and lots of healing energy on your way!

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    1. Thank you for these thoughts, baili - you're right that it too often seems our best efforts to be healthy don't affect the eventual outcome. But all we can do is try our best. I do feel fortunate to have been able to look after my husband; it does ease my heart somewhat. Hugs to you, my friend.

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  10. Thank you for posting this. I had been checking in occasionally to see whether there was anything new from you.

    For the horrors you so vividly describe, there are no words. All I can say is that having gone through something somewhat similar, I understand. You will never "get over" it, but as time passes, you'll eventually start to feel more normal. Remember he would have wanted you to be happy. And, too, always remember the value of what you did for him, enabling him to spend his last weeks with you instead of with strangers.

    I'd like to include this post in my weekly link round-up, because I think its message is valuable. But I realize it's very personal and you may not want a lot of strangers reading it. I won't include it unless you say it's OK.

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    1. Thanks, Infidel - the past couple of weeks have been better for me and I am starting to believe I will get through this in one piece, which I was starting to doubt. Feel free to link here, although human nature being what it is, I suspect most readers will avoid the topic anyway. Given the choice of lolcats and health warnings, I know which one I tend to choose. I appreciate your encouragement and am sorry you had to go through this too.

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  11. I hope you are getting your feet under you again: the whole world seems like it has been turned upside down for a while, but I know that doesn't mitigate what you have been going through.
    OK, some thoughts on cancer.
    I worked with a nice man named Robert at Tumbleweed who died of esophageal cancer. He missed three days work from being sick and came back saying his doctors told him he had shingles. He was back a month before he went to the ER and was diagnosed with cancer. He lasted about a month post-diagnosis, so he didn't have it as bad as your husband did.
    We were both smokers back then and I sometimes bought cigarettes from him for a quarter.
    My mom had severe migraines for years, and she had a really bad doctor in Eureka try to fix her by doing a fusion surgery on her neck, which he botched, and it had to be redone by someone who knew what they were doing in San Francisco.
    It turned out that her migraines were from a brain tumor, and by the time they found it, it was too late to do anything about it. She lasted six weeks post diagnosis, so she didn't suffer much either.
    My friend Dan went to Alta Bates, a very nice hospital in Berkeley, over the fatigue and the pain, and the ER doctors told him he was probably coming down from drugs and to go home and sleep it off.
    He had advanced bone marrow cancer, which went into remission for a year, came roaring back and killed him in three weeks.
    I smoked for about fifteen years, but stopped when I felt they were causing health issues. I'm lucky that way, it was easy. My dad was also, the day that Newsweek magazine showed up with the article that said the surgeon general had announced smoking caused lung cancer, my dad, who had smoked since he was a kid, put out his cigarette, threw the pack in his shirt pocket into the wastebasket, and finished reading the article.
    I know it's not that easy for everyone, as I watched my mom struggle to quit for years before she finally gave it up.
    It seemed to me that the difference was that my dad (and me) wanted to quit, but she didn't really want to.
    My last doctor visit called for labs, two of which were cancer screens that I apparently passed with flying colors, and that was sort of reassuring, considering the cancer that has been in my family. My sister had breast cancer, also, but seems to have beat it back.
    I've also been trying to get as much broccoli into our diets as we can stand (quite a bit, as we both like it) because of a study we read back in the eighties that found cruciferous vegetables in one's diet corresponded with lower incidence of cancer.
    But you never really know until you do, so I just try to be watchful of my aging body and try to do whatever I can to assist it in holding onto the health that I didn't seem that concerned about for most of what, for lack of a better term, I'll just call my youth.
    Hang in there, we're pulling for you.

    -Doug in Sugar Pine

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    1. Ah, Doug, you've had too many experiences with cancer, eh? I'm so sorry about your mom's experience with it. A lack of diagnosis, or a bad diagnosis, leads to a lot of "what ifs" and sadness. It's good that your dad and you were able to quit smoking easily. As I mentioned in a reply above, I've read that some people's reaction to nicotine is the same as some people's reaction to alcohol or drugs - it's a firm addiction and can be extremely hard to fight. I would say my husband was in that category. And you're right - all we can do is try to take care of our bodies and the rest is unknown until it's known. Thanks for your kind comments.

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  12. It is good to see your post pop up and thanks for the recount of such a horrible period for you. Taking an educated guess at his age, of course he cannot be blamed for addiction to cigarettes, whether smoking killed him or not. He was subjected when young to very clever advertising, peer pressure, wanting to fit in with the crowd and social acceptability. As you went on to say, who of us live a perfectly healthy life anyway.

    Nothing will ever stop your missing him and the change to your life is dramatic, but it will get easier in time.

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    1. Absolutely right on the age and early exposure, Andrew. He was 66 and started smoking before he was old enough to buy his own. His father smoked before him, although he quit later in life. Thanks for your kind words. The pain has started to lessen in recent weeks and for that I am grateful.

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  13. I read every word. Thanks for sharing your reflections on what must have been the most traumatic period of your life. It is understandable that you are still in healing mode, taking baby steps towards a better future. As they might think or say, "He would have wanted that for you".

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    1. Thanks for reading to the end, YP. I was with my dad a lot in his last years and final days, and present when he died, but his end was very peaceful. It was shocking to me that a similar peace could not be had - even with powerful drugs - with my husband's illness. It shook me to my core and left me wondering how things could have been different. One of the palliative nurses I talked to about it said my husband struggled to die because his heart was relatively young and healthy. But it was so hard to watch because it was so hard on him.

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  14. Oh Jenny. Thank you for these heartfelt words. I cannot imagine what you’ve been through with your beloved. When my father died from cancer, for a time, all I saw when I closed my eyes was the suffering. Time replaced those images with smiles from memories of good times and thoughts of the person he was. I wish the same for you.

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    1. Thank you, Marie. It seems many folks here have lost loved ones to cancer and I'm sorry you had this experience with your father's death. I hope you are right about the images changing as time passes. It seems very far in the future at this point but I will hang onto that thought.

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  15. I'm so sorry about your husband. Losing a partner and friend is dreadful. You were blessed to have had him; trite sounding I know but it is the mantra I repeat when I think about my dad. He made everything better, just by being.

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    1. Thank you, Elle. That is a good way to think about it. I was indeed very lucky to have had him. The grief is the price you pay when you've had a good person in your life.

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  16. Dear Jenny, the loss of a beloved husband and life partner is one of the most difficult times in life. As annoying all that paperwork is and the frustrations of going through it all, it keeps one busy and purposeful. Cancer is so cruel and when the outcome has no hope, the suffering can seem unbearable for all. You have come through the worst part and although there will always be pain, your strength and the love of your family and friends will get you through.

    I think of you often, dear Jenny, and I know that such a lovely person as you has support and much kindness envelops you during this very hard time. There will be a day in the future when the pains edge will not be as sharp and there will be peace in your heart. Love never dies.

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    1. Thank you, Arleen. Your words encourage me at a time I really need it.

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  17. I am so sorry for all you went through.you are amazingly strong, but of course you werent given a choice. But what a difference you made taking care of your husband at home so he could live out the rest of his life with his love one and tender commpassionate care. You are so strong and so brave.i admire you so much.you are also very selfless as we all know taking care of someone who you love who was so very sick was a constant around the clock job. Im praying for you to be able to forget the painful times and just be flooded with good memiories of the happy days you and your husband shared i wish for you peace and love and comfort.

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    1. Thank you for those kind words. I am hoping with time those changes will come.

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  18. I am so sorry for what you both endured, thank you for writing Nans sharing your thoughts and feelings. Many friends and family members of mine have had cancers and all were terrible. I'm glad you have the support of family and friends and do take care of yourself.

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    1. I'm sorry you've gone through this too, e. Thank you for your kind wishes.

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  19. Losing your partner in life is an immense step...we all know that, but why bureaucracy is so unsympathetic at a time like this I cannot fathom.
    Keep writing what and when you can..to help yourself and others. Sending a virtual hug ((0))

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    1. Thank you, gz - I appreciate your thoughts. Yes, the bureaucracy was staggering. I often felt like my head would burst trying to deal with it.

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  20. Thank you for writing to us. Sometimes it seems as if stoicism is the only choice because it's so hard to get answers. Cancer is horrible, simply horrible. When we've lost a loved one or something else terrible has happened, that's when they hit us with the paperwork. It's exhausting.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I know you have been going through that too, Janie. I hope it's getting better for you now. Thanks for your support.

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    2. It is better. I hope I'm headed for the final stretch--if such a thing exists.

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  21. Thanks for being so open and honest about all you've been through. I'm so sorry you and your husband had to endure all that. As you said, cancer is a terrible illness. I'm no expert but I think esophageal cancer is a particularly hard one to treat, and it's very likely your doctor is correct that discovering it earlier wouldn't have made much difference. But that's not true of all cancers, and I think you're correct that we should all listen to our bodies and try to follow up with the doctors when things aren't right. The problem is many cancers really ARE hard to detect until they're pretty far along.

    Again, thanks for your openness and honesty here, J.

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    1. Thanks, Steve. After seeing the way the covid vaccines were produced so quickly, doesn't it make you wonder what could be done for cancer and cancer screening if there was a real will to do it and no funding mazes to navigate? Well, that's what I wonder, anyhow. Esophageal, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers all seem very elusive when it comes to detecting them. There are probably others, too. So many hard ways to die.

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    2. I guess the tricky thing about cancers is that there's no obvious infectious agent to fight, the way there is with something like Covid. Instead, the body's own cells are spontaneously turning on each other -- such a difficult situation!

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  22. While we know that smoking is bad for you, some people smoke all of their lives and nothing happens. We all have to go from something but to suffer is terrible. Tom is getting progressively worse with his lung condition and wants to be at home in the end. I hate having to watch him trying to get his breath now so I hate to think what the end will be like, but like you I shall do what needs to be done.
    Life is certainly a challenge isn't it.
    Stay strong and you will come out the other end. I'm sure your husband wouldn't want you to be miserable.
    Hugs
    Briony
    x

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    1. I feel for you and for Tom, Briony. I thought of you more than a few times over the last months, of what you are going through and what you are facing. Somehow we find the strength when we need to; there's not really any other choice, but it is definitely a challenge as you said. Thank you for your kind words.

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  23. Esophageal cancer is one of my nightmares. There might be worse ways to die, but they are few. My heart aches for what you and your husband went through.

    It's natural for you to go over and over the what-ifs and if-onlys, but I hope you'll be able to take comfort from your doctor's words. You and your husband did the best you could with the information and resources you had at the time, and that's all you could do.

    I hope things get easier for you soon - wishing you peace and comfort.

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    1. Thank you, Diane. It sounds like you may have had personal experience with this kind of cancer. I know there aren't many so-called "good" ways to die, but this one seems particularly cruel. I appreciate your words of comfort.

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  24. Jenny, I have only just seen your post. I am so sorry you have had such a horrendous time, and I really hope that writing this down has been cathartic for you and that you are now in a place where you can feel the worst is at last over and you can find some hope for the future. My thoughts are with you.x.

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    1. Thank you, SBM - I hope that time comes soon.

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  25. Selfishly, I was so happy to see that you posted and I hope it was cathartic for you in some way. I’m not the type to push back with a doctor, either and I totally agree with you that sometimes it’s necessary and sometimes it’s necessary to seek a second opinion even when it makes you uncomfortable, like you might hurt the doctor’s feelings. I don’t push back because I feel inept at describing symptoms, pain, etc. And also have you ever noticed how saying something often leads to additional questions? I might practice something in my head before an appointment, I might even make a list, but the minute the conversation goes “live” I trip over my words or worse, don’t know the answer. I always get a case of “should have saids” after visiting the doctor. I’m so sorry for your loss, his pain, your pain, the struggle to pick up the pieces. I think of you all the time and I hope you continue to heal a little each day.

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    1. Thank you, Chicken. Yes, doctor appointments seem like they are so rushed and full of pressure to say everything relevant and nothing irrelevant that might muddy the water. And how are we supposed to know what those things might be? We're not doctors. Aargh.

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  26. I admire you for being so brave and strong in helping your husband in his dark final months and now for getting the word out about that type of cancer. It does seem hard to detect. My hubby died in 2016 and if I can offer you any encouragement in being a widow let me know, leave a comment on my blog and I will email you. Remember to treat yourself kindly and take care of yourself.

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    1. Thank you, Terra. I didn't know that you had lost your husband too, so I went to your blog to read about that and saw that he died suddenly. That must have been so hard. I hope you are doing okay as time goes by. It just seems so unreal at first, doesn't it? Thanks for the kind offer to email. Work has been very busy but the deadlines are over now and things will slow down, so I may take you up on that.

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  27. Jenny, I found your blog just as your husband got so I'll. I'm so sorry for all you are going through. Another blogger also lost her husband to esophagus cancer in the last couple of years, Janet at the blogspot blog thegardenerscottage. My thoughts are with you, Celie.b

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    1. Thank you for reading, and for your kind words, Celie.

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  28. Dear Jenny, it is so good to read your words, though my heart aches for what you and your love went through. My cousin's husband died from this same cancer, so I know how it steals the person's strength and being. It will take you a long time to be able to breathe through that rock in your chest, and while it will get smaller, I hope, perhaps it will never fully leave you, but please know I am continuing to pray for your peace. Sending so much love to you. Be gentle with yourself.

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    1. Thank you, 37p - I'm sorry your cousin and her husband had to deal with this too. The boulder is not quite as massive the last few weeks, and I hope it never gets that bad again. Work has been busy, but now the deadlines are over and I wonder what will happen now that I have more time to think. Thank you for your well wishes; it's a comfort to hear from my friends here in blogland.

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  29. Cancer is a bitch. I'm so sorry for your loss, the pain of losing him must be unbearable. It was nice to see posting again and commenting on my blog. Sending you big hugs. Stay strong.

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    1. Thank you, Joey. It's just so exhausting. I think it starting to get better now, though. Thank you for the kind words and hugs.

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  30. My father died from this over 50 years ago. He was a heavy smoker. He was tired and slept in the chair for a long time before we knew what he had. He was given 6 months to live but never told he had cancer. He went for one lot of treatment, as it was in those days, and said he didn't want to go again. He took 25 pain killers a day. No nurses came to the house. One day he asked my mother if he was going to get better and she told him, for the first time, it was bad. He asked her to put him down (he was a farmer). That weekend he died. The end was like a horror film and I have often been aware that nobody understands this. Having read your post today I feel like I have found someone who will understand. I was 17 at the time. I hope you don't mind me sharing this but as you will know it never leaves you. I feel for you. RachelXx

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    1. I do understand, Rachel, and I'm glad you shared this because it helps me to read it. I'm so sorry you lost your father at such a young age in such a terrible way. At 17 a person doesn't have as many tools to try to cope with this and I imagine it has affected your life in many ways since. Thanks again for telling your story; it has made me feel less alone.

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  31. I'm so sorry for your loss and the pain he went through. Sending you lots of hugs and reminding you that I'm always available if you need some support. xo

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    1. Thank you, Martha. I'm keeping that in mind. And I'm so sorry about your mom and the family issues. Loss is bad enough by itself; when it's complicated by other things, it's so much harder to come to grips with it.

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  32. Sending you my love, jenny_o.

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    1. Thanks, Jono. I appreciate that. And I haven't forgotten that you were the one to encourage me to start a blog, which is now where I find such support and caring. Speaking of blogs, will you be blogging again any time soon? Your friends in blogland miss you.

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  33. Have thought of you almost daily since your last posting. Thank you for sharing just how difficult things were for your husband and for you to educate folks about the reality of this cancer--even though it had to be difficult to write about those months of pain and sadness. It is healthy for you to share your story as you navigate grief. And let's face it, grief is a solo journey with no particular destination, no real clues about what the next stop will be--a journey that can take you places you never wanted to go. My hope is that over time you will be able to regain your strength of heart and find ways to cope with all the changes in your life. Know that many of us are thinking of you and lifting you up. xo

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Mary. One thing in particular that you wrote really expresses what I've been feeling - that grief is a solo journey. I've had so many folks willing to listen to me express my grief, but I realized early on that the worst parts of it are travelled alone. Although it's good to have support, no one else can do the actual grieving for you. It's a tough realization at the height of the pain.

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