Friday, January 3, 2014

Last chemotherapy session

John and his oncologist at Compass Oncology determined that the fifth chemotherapy session he went through would be his last. The results that the therapy generated are definitive of the direction that they wanted to take. John is so much better now compared to where he was in the health scale last August 2013. No more fluid in his lungs, his spleen's size went back to normal (it ballooned,  220% of the normal size), he's been gaining his lost weight back, etc.

The next question is, so what now? To be honest, we are clueless. We can only guess what tomorrow has. One thing is sure though, there'd been a lot of progress. The medical scare is still in the picture. He is not 100% okay. We are still not sure. The relapse will happen but nobody knows when. The doctor puts it in a year or two but as he had mentioned, "no one can tell." Aside from trying to stay fit and healthy, a positive state of mind and heart will help. I will try my best to help him in those aspects.

I promised him a few months ago that if things improved, I will take him to Chiang Mai Thailand, our favorite place. His birthday wish is to take me to Thailand while he still can. With the realities at work and with my employer deciding to take away all the employees' earned paid time off after a spat with a key employee, I am not sure if that will still happen. For someone who's used to vacation days and multi-purpose leaves back home, it is going to be a huge adjustment phase. I can't go on vacation and once I do that, things just get crazy when you come back as though you're a machine. There is also the reality of finances, a huge chunk went to the medical bills. Then the business that we started. It will take some time before we can recover our investment.

The best way I know is to just try to shake joie de vivre into John's system, make him happy each day. Give him a reason to enjoy. Once the business starts to generate real income, maybe we can have more time together. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

At the risk of being called by John as "dramatic"

... I published the beginning of my confessions. He's always on the web so I am not sure if he will discover my blog one day. Man, I felt so much better after I wrote that post. I actually started writing it on my phone last Friday on my way home. I had my Talkboard app capture my thoughts as they crossed my mind. Inside the car, at the photo studio at work, during break times--during those "in-between moments." Just needed to deal with the mental torture.

However, if there's any bright side to this, this situation revealed the fibers of our relationship. How strong each strand is and how it can be strengthened. How profound our bond is and how meaningless everything around us is actually. All that matters is that for each breathing moment, you feel alive. I want John to experience that. To feel loved, to feel happy and to feel that he has a strong grip on life.

I wonder how many wives my age go through something like this?



Truth is, I have been trying to repress things. John dislikes it when I am being a softee. He wants me tough. Like a man! He abhors drama. For him, you recognize the bleeding pain then move forward from there. While I tend to be like that 99% of the time, being threatened by cancer is something that I have no control of and it just shook the boat in the most horrible way you can imagine. Then unknowingly, this whole thing was eating me. Tried to not be dramatic with last night's post but maybe there's a little tinge to it. Just a little. ;-)

I am beginning to see how difficult it can be to not have a support system around you. Probably, it's more apt to say that I have to admit that I can't go through it alone anymore. I go to work every day like a machine, with no trace of brokenness or pain. Just functioning. Same daily programming. I am experience-free when it comes to being a wife to a patient with cancer. That part John doesn't realized. But I've been tested by various circumstances and I only know one way of facing battles--confront them.

The crux of this situation we're confronted with is straight and simple. Life and health are not a given. The only given is that we are all on this journey.

John and I intend to go through it together.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Confessions Of A Cancer Patient's Wife

Since we came home from that July trip to the Emergency Room in Legacy, I've been living in fear. When the doctors painted a clearer picture of what was in front of us, it felt worse than hell breaking loose. This Big-C word just invaded our lives and seriously shook the happy boat. We were powerless. Speechless. As though on cue, I held back my tears, removed myself from emotions, overlooked the drama and decided to wear the tougher cookie badge. That fateful moment demanded for me to stay clear-headed. My role as a wife, as a best friend, as next of kin just got challenged. My purpose as a human got redefined. I was initially incredulous but those lab results won't lie. 

Instant rewind took place in my mind. Three years ago, when I decided to marry him, I knew that the likelihood of things such as this happening is high. This year, reality surfaced. 

The findings shouldn't have come as a surprise. We've made trips to Asia (Philippines, Thailand) on an "exploratory mission." We were looking for cheaper options outside the United States. This was after we've done initial doctor visits here. Also, our research already revealed the health scare story. However, it is true that when reality hits you, it does let out an excruciating bite. The situation was unbearable, indescribable and unfathomable. I can't find the right words to say. Learning that the one you love the most is being threatened by a major illness is the worst feeling ever. However, that very second, I refrained from displaying any sort of reaction as I reached for John's hands. For heaven knows how he took that blow. It was an attack in his life, in what he holds dear, in what he feels was his last chance at having a happy stay on Earth. His feelings were far more important than what I was going through inside. Horrible is an understatement. I just knew that from that day forward, we'd have to try very, very hard to keep our heads above water. Not by choice but by circumstance, we were signed up for a wild, insane ride.


Confessions Of A Cancer Patient's Wife


If it isn't clear yet, John won the lottery in the cancer department. The kind of winning that nobody wants. He also scored a Powerball. He acquired the rarest type of it. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. The weeks that followed were spent on blood-work, biopsies, unnecessary tests and bypassing medical access red tapes. We've been blessed with awesome doctors and nurses at Compass Oncology who did nothing but pumped a tremendous amount of joie de vivre and enthusiasm into our spirits. Everyone was hoping for John to overcome this battle. 

Tonight, I cannot believe that I am writing this. Perhaps, I just need to. Offloading is a skill that I need to have. Maybe this blog can help me. I've never discussed John's cancer story with anyone except with some key people in my life. It can be devastating. It can make you feel alone especially when I don't know anybody here and my family is so far away. Or very busy to care about me.  

Normally, the only side people see is that of the cancer patient (or survivor). The part that is obscured by surface realities is the other big chunk of the story. That person has his or her own battle too. Am I being self-centered if I confess that I am very scared to lose the best thing that ever happened to me?

Three chemotherapy sessions and monthly updates to relatives later, I found myself waking up one morning feeling really knocked out. Weeks prior to that, I felt that I was running low on optimism. The sadder truth is that, I felt powered by false energies. My motivations were coming from bills piling up, food on the table, responsibilities at work, website management and of course, hope that we'll get out of this situation one day. 

It doesn't help that John's hitting emotional valleys sometimes. We're not benefiting either from his being stubborn to take the medicines prescribed by doctors. He questions everything and refuses to take anything until he's done his research about the side effects. Well, that is wise. But the negativity that comes from it causes some unnecessary toxic moments. We'd have small arguments about him doing that and those instances can immediately kill my drive, wipe out my will to go on and just say, "I don't know anymore." When he skips his pills, I feel that he is making selfish decisions. He is putting himself at risk and that will mean more health trouble. But who knows. Another thing that bugs me the most is that he cares so much about the money. He is scared of draining out our savings (well, there isn't a lot). I'd tell him it is none of his business. I will take care of it even though I don't really know where to source those funds. I just know that I can look after those. His primary role is to be healthy and to stay positive. But then he'd come back to me and say, "I am positive. I am positive that it (this cancer) sucks."

His humor is an indication that we'll be okay one day. That we will beat this thing.


Heaven knows how sad it is to go through this with John and I am the only one here. No family, no friends. It can be lonely. In case you didn't know, I am still dealing with my dad's death. But as I have mentioned, I have to be the tougher cookie this time. I can't allow our happy marriage to be ruined by cancer. Worse, by petty disagreements. We don't really argue.

I guess, what I am trying to get at is that, I am finally able to admit that I am not the solid egg shell as you've perceived me to be. I am afraid to lose him and it's been killing me all along. There are days that I feel so bummed out and I just try to overlook things because the realities of income generation can't be affected by anything related to emotions. I am also an upcoming entrepreneur, a web marketing manager and I am trying to  balance things out: his welfare, our marriage and my future. 

My weight has been going down. Probably because of loss of appetite. I feel that my maturity levels accelerated the past two to three months. I've discovered the ability to love beyond what I thought was my limit. I've seen inner strengths that never manifested in my younger years. I think that's what real love does to people. When they find it, when they find the "one."

As I have shared here, "My life's game plan right now is to make sure that he's the happiest person on Earth everyday. I've been doing that for the past three years but I will explore more ways on how to do so. If you see me smiling at work or anywhere, it is because every minute of the day, thoughts of him and our memories would play rewind and remind me that I have to be stronger. It is unnecessary to be emotional. It is unimportant to be dramatic. It is of grave importance that my head is free from "head stuff" and mini-movies and stay on top of things. This way, I can help him chart things out and together, we can make better decisions."

If you're reading this blog, please give your man an extra hug. I will go and give mine a thousand. :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One Photo A Day or Project 365 is taking a pause

Or has taken a pause.

If you noticed, I haven't religiously followed the prescribed schedule. There'd been some serious health concerns at the "for keeps house" and that, on top of my regular work, has been consuming all my energies and time.

Last July, I marked my second year here in the States. The original plan was for me to write a blog post about how our extremely prudent ways allowed us to survive here in the US while having a quality lifestyle. A life experience that I figured people can grab some major insights from. I also wanted to debunk some myths about this country that people back home tend to believe and present the reality. However, J and I were confronted with a health scare.

Trust me, I'd love to write and take pictures. But right now, there are bigger things that I need to attend to. It's that period in our relationship where I am required to remain clear-headed and to be the stronger person. J has always been very loving, kind and thoughtful. He has the purest soul and most selfless heart. I can't believe how this relationship has opened my whole being and revealed my ability to love unconditionally.

My life's game plan right now is to make sure that he's the happiest person on Earth everyday. I've been doing that for the past three years but I will explore more ways on how to do so. If you see me smiling at work or anywhere, it is because every minute of the day, thoughts of him and our memories would play rewind and remind me that I have to be a tougher cookie. It is unnecessary to be emotional. It is unimportant to be dramatic. It is of grave importance that my head is free from "head stuff" and mini-movies and stay on top of things. This way, I can help him chart things out and together, we can make better decisions.

I can deal with my own emotions later. But right now, I am keeping my strengths together for him, for us. This, while going to the office daily, as though nothing major is bugging me or is happening outside of work. :)


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #017

Restaurant Linens from LinenTablecloth

ONE SWEET DAY! That would be the title of this event, if I have to name this styled shoot that I did with Seriously Cupcakes and LinenTablecloth. These scrumptious beauties blended well with the pastel-colored linens that we brought with us. Our pink napkins matched perfectly with the strawberry cupcakes while the mint muffins softened the appeal of our valley green napkins.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #016


"My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Project 365: One Photo A Day #015

Canby Ferry Dock in Canby, Oregon

I did not plan to take a pause with this mini-project of mine but we are going through some health scare. That required me to take it easy on the blogging front and focus on my work and spending more time with my husband. Not that things have gotten better, but today, I started to browse through some old files and found this sweet photo of John's daughter Alyssa and her visiting friend, Clemence. Two teenage girls, trying to experience what Oregon summer is like. {Remember to click the photo to enlarge it.}