After a spectacular birthday party on Saturday, my old friend Mark rolled into town last Tuesday evening, and the second wave of birthday festivities began. In my ongoing pursuit of superb vino experiences, we enjoyed a 2008 Colgin Cariad that somehow slipped out of Max and Anita’s luggage when they visited here last Spring. It was smack-your-mama good. On Wednesday we packed up the car and headed to Tucson for a night of fine dining and an overnight stay at one of our favorite resorts, Hacienda del Sol. We’d been trying for almost a year to get there, and after four cancellations due to illness of either myself or the cats, we finally made it happen. Another old chum from Portland, Harmony, joined us. Harmony and I met in the late seventies at a wine tasting. Mark and I met in the early eighties through work. The four of us sipped and supped on a special chef’s table menu with paired with wines to match. Classical guitar player, Eduardo, serenaded us.
Thursday the foursome spent the day at the resort so the girls could enjoy spa treatments and the boys could relax and take in the view of the Catalina mountains.
Friday we said farewell to Mark and had planned a fun evening with Harmony and some local friends, but it was not to be. Life can change very quickly when you have advanced cancer. Extreme fatigue, weakness and fever set in and poof, it was back to bed for Jimmy. If I were not on hospice it would have been an emergency room day for Jimmy. Instead, one call does it all, and my hospice nurse arrived late morning. She quickly determined I had the beginning of pneumonia, ordered oxygen and antibiotics for same day delivery, and arranged for more frequent nurse visits and an aide to assist me. I am grateful for early hospice. Without these services I would probably have been hospitalized.
From the very beginning of my cancer roller coaster ride, Lee and I have weighed every treatment decision carefully, knowing the toll that cancer treatment takes on the body. I’m not ready to kick the bucket, that’s for sure, but I’ve never pursued treatment at the expense of living life to its fullest.
When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, the average time from diagnosis to death was twenty-two months. I am now at thirty-one months. My goal at diagnosis was to survive as long as possible, and live as well as possible. I decided early on that sharing my philosophy and experiences with others through writing a book would help people struggling with serious illness. This led to what this blog has become, a newspaper article series, public speaking presentations, and over sixty paintings of critters.
There are no treatment options on the table that make sense right now, although that could always change. My plan is to ride the hospice wave for as long as possible, continuing to do what I can to help others through my writing and talks. I have so much more that I want to do and will continue to fight to keep the work moving forward. I’m not worried about me so much. I think more about Lee, and those I love, but I’m really focused on doing good work.
This week the plan is to get lots of rest, let the antibiotics and breathing treatments do their job, and recover from this pneumonia. I think recovery will also require Cherry Garcia ice cream, wine maiden service from Lee, and the comforts of home.
Thank you everyone for a super-duper 70th birthday extravaganza week.