Thursday, January 10, 2013

Divorce, Death, Cancer

I have a dear friend whose father is in the last stages of cancer, actively dying. He's at her home, and she and her family are caring for him, along with a home health care cast of many.

We live in the 21st century, getting man on the moon is something of the past. Sending space ships to Mars is nothing. Latest movie - Netflix; latest book, Amazon; latest cancer remedy - morphine? chemotherapy? "make you comfortable"?

I'm disappointed at the medical and political world when it comes to treating those with cancer. Although I'm going the traditional route with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, no one can tell me this is the best, only, least invasive, safest "cure" for cancer. No way!

Cancer is not cured, rather it's sucked, molested, scalpelled, pulled, intoxicated, burnt, in an attempt to rid the body of cancer cells. I am more sick now than when I found my tumor. I am sick from chemo, and I now consider that a blessing; I am not sick from cancer, like my friend's father - yet enough is enough!

Cancer, and all of its treatments is a multi-billion dollar industry. If there was/is a cure for cancer, it certainly isn't going to be able to raise its beautiful face in time to save us, our parents, and perhaps even our children and grandchildren. Think of all of the people who would be without a job if it wasn't for those few cancer cells in my body and the "necessary" treatments to rid my body of these cells.

My insurance covers an enormous amount of my cancer treatment, yet still, we will have spent more than $30,000, out of pocket. "Thank God I have insurance." Yet prescriptions, specialty drugs, medical supplies, transportation, meals, physical therapy, and making our home cancer-ready are not covered (some minimally). No small amount, considering I have not been able to teach for 2 semesters, Scott has taken 8 weeks off work to be with me, and I have cut my work hours down - can anyone say, "Loss of income"? I'm not asking for a fundraiser, what I'm saying is cancer is expensive - and I'm sure I've helped the healthcare industry sustain some form of physical comfort with this pay-out.

If cancer was a divorce, and I was suing for benefits, I would surely ask my cancer spouse for reimbursement for: irreconcilable differences, back wages, infidelity, failed expectations, emotional abuse, physical abuse, loss of independence. I would give cancer all the custody it wanted, I would ask for alimony, I would sue cancer for desertion, and I would petition the courts for divorce on the grounds that cancer has committed multiple acts of physical abuse and disfigurement. I would sue primarily for abandonment - my self is gone - cancer has replaced me with someone else.

If I could, I'd fight cancer only with green drinks, vitamins, supplements, oils, exercise, meditation, conversation, laughter, and prayers. Yet the "system" has made that even more expensive than traditional treatment - sad. I can get morphine, codeine, percocet, taramadol, Oxycontin, but I can't get lavender, peppermint, frankincense, or medical marijuana. I can get suppositories, but I can't get prune juice. I can supplement but not replace - at my expense.


Today I get another ultrasound on my left breast, tomorrow I get IV fluids, and every day I take my prescriptions and supplements to counter-act the affects of chemo/poison. On Wednesday I will have my last chemotherapy treatment. I will sit in a chair and FEEL the IV drip into my chest - first Dexamethasone to suppress my immune system, then Phenergan to combat nausea, then Benadryl to decrease the likelihood of spasms, convulsions, allergic reactions, and then Taxol - once my body is in shock, this poison is dripped into my system (I can't visualize friendly medication beating on those monster cancer cells; there is nothing friendly about chemo) - all of this with MY approval and the approval of the medical world and the FDA. Paid for by my insurance. Then I'll come home and eat ginger for nausea, rub tea tree oil on my nails to eliminate the possibility of fungus and nail death, I'll eat whole grains to ease digestion issues, rub lavender oil on my temples to relax my body, and plug in the humidifier to counteract the affects of drying out, paid for by me. I will pray that my nerves will become healthy and strong, that my hair will grow back (even the hair on my body that I don't want, I'll welcome now), and that I will be able to once again live day to day rather than hour to hour.

I'm not an ungrateful bastard. I'm a confused citizen of the planet - trying to blend two worlds - and they're just not fitting together. And my heart and head cannot make sense of this mess.

Tonight, my friend will hope to comfort her father by: rubbing his legs, holding his hand, whispering stories of life together, comforting him with a warm blanket, a tender kiss, and a simple prayer, "Oh God, please take better care of Dad than cancer/the medical world has, please."
As my friend says, "Helluva time; helluva time."

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