Sorry for the vulgarity and profanity. It’s just been one of those
In the Village, there is a very popular high school teacher who was recently been diagnosed with cancer. He was a favourite of the Badass Daughter when she attended – a gym teacher and football coach – in his mid 40s with a wife and 2 small children. So sad and so unfair. He was diagnosed with the exact same cancer as my husband. Stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the lungs with malignant pericardial effusion. Also a non-smoker and example of healthy living.
Seeing the Facebook posts and reading in print media about this man and the campaign that has been started to provide support for him and his family trigger me almost every day. And I stand, teetering on the edge of the abyss, as I have to deal with the unwanted thoughts and memories of all the confusion, fear and despair of our brief but intense cancer journey all over again.
Yesterday I saw in a Facebook post that he possesses the ALK mutation (again, like my husband) and the family is thanking their supporters for all the thoughts and prayers, and writing how this is such a great outcome and means a better prognosis. I wish I could believe that.
I know now how the story ends for 99% of those with this disease, even with this mutation. Only 1% will still be alive 5 years after diagnosis. I really wish it will mean a better prognosis for this man and his family, but I can’t believe that, not any more. However, he has a very good chance of being spared at lot of the more harmful side effects of chemo, and as a result there will be a better quality to what remains of his life.
He may even be lucky enough to go into remission. I hope this happens and that it lasts for a long long time. Long enough for the next great cancer-fighting drug to come along and keep this man alive for many more years yet. That’s what JD and I were hoping for, for JD.
Yesterday I was triggered again, by another incident. I had hired a handyman to do some work for me, to ready part of my building for a commercial tenant. Came home Friday to find him falling-down drunk – he actually did fall down in my presence – and little to no work done. My agent came over a few minutes after I got there (thankfully!) and we got him out of the building and into a cab.
Got an email from him the next day apologizing and serving up learning of the death of an uncle as his excuse for drinking himself into a stupor instead of doing the work he was charged to do. Boy, that was the wrong thing to tell the recently widowed.
Hell, if I can face the world sober after what happened to JD and I since May 2013, anybody can.
I can’t begin to describe to you the amount of fury reading that sentence unleashed in me. Any compassion I had previously felt for this man (not much, but there was definitely some there) immediately vapourized. I gathered up his tools and stacked them neatly by the backdoor. I emailed him back that I no longer required his services and called bullshit on his excuse (after expressing condolences, of course).
I know, I read all about how we all grieve differently and that there is no right and no wrong way to do it. But I challenge that statement. Drinking yourself stupid on the job site and then asserting that you are going to drive home qualifies as a wrong way to grieve in my books.
I hope I won’t always be so easy to trigger, and that my fury abates and my usual levels of compassion for others return. But in the meantime, this widow is kicking asses (to the curb) and taking names.