Cleaning the House; Avoiding the Web; Asking For Help

It’s Sunday, four days after The News.

It’s amazing how the universe can conspire to be supportive in times of need. On Friday CG “just happened” to be at Stanford Hospital (though the circumstances of why she was there weren’t necessarily the best).

Today while out for a quick walk around the block a former coworker drove by. He lives in the same neighborhood and I’d see him from time to time. He pulled over and we chatted for a bit, and I mentioned I’d just gotten a cancer diagnosis. From what I recall his wife had cancer or some severe illness years ago. He ended up inviting me over to see his newly remodeled home where I met the latest addition to his family, a most adorable chihuahua, and got reacquainted with his other canine adoptee. I love dogs and spending a couple hours chatting and playing with the dogs was just what I needed.

Cleaning the House

I spent much of yesterday and today organizing the house, which was in sore need of it. No one has really been inside for the past year and a half due to the isolation we’ve all been doing for COVID. That being the case I’d gotten to leaving things wherever they’d be most convenient – namely all over the place.

One of the things on my mind was that friends would probably be coming over a lot – if nothing else to drop me off. Plus I had in my mind that when we started chemo and right after surgery I’d like someone to be staying here with me for a day or two. Just in case I had an adverse reaction. I doubt all the procedures and drugs are well-tested against homo sapiens vampirus, after all.

So to days of house cleaning. Along the way I started thinking – what would help make life more comfortable for the people helping me? Thanks to COVID people are working remotely, so it’s in the realm of possibility they could work from my house almost as well as from their own. I mentally blocked off the guest bedroom and living room as theirs to use and reconfigure as they saw fit. Those are two rooms I really don’t use, and they’d become storage (aka a dumping ground) during COVID.

Avoiding the Web

At one point this evening I started to search the web for rectal adenocarcinoma. Whether you’re a patient recently diagnosed or family member or care giver, my advice is DON’T! The Internet is full of sensationalized stories and dated information. The first few hits were all from one site which in the first couple paragraphs stated, “This disease, when activated, kills an absolutely healthy person for [sic] a year.” This was at at odds with what I had read in the PAMF patient binder and for the first time since The News fear started to set in. Given the poor grammar it didn’t seem this was written by a medical professional, however. After going through a couple more sites written in a way that was moderately sensationalized, I resolved to stop searching the ‘net and trust only what was provided by PAMF or my doctors.

Asking For Help

I also sent an email to JT formally asking her for help. This wasn’t an easy thing to do, for a variety of reasons. I’m a very independent individual and do a lot of things myself. Professionally I’d made a point to learn the ins and outs of as many aspects of running a business as I could – legal, marketing, manufacturing, etc. I treat my personal life the same way – there is an appreciation in doing things myself, whether it’s repairing the deck, installing laminate flooring, building servers, or cleaning the gutters. (I draw the line at repairing cars. They’re magical beasts with no rhyme or reason to their workings – or not working.) Over the years I’ve become very self-sufficient and asking for help has rarely been needed, though I do appreciate it when I have the opportunity to work with others on a professional or personal project.

Despite what she’d said when dropping me off from the colonoscopy, I don’t feel like I have a right to impose at this level on JT. She’s a busy individual with a lot on her plate, both professionally and personally. She’s also a friend of two decades, and I feel we “click” at a very deep level. It’s not something I want to jeopardize, even if it meant I’d die a bit sooner. (Death doesn’t hold much fear for me. A slow lingering death does – but that’s a topic for another blog).

I’m not sure how long I sat writing the email, but during much of it I was in tears. At the thought of burdening her with any part of this journey. At the thought that this was a journey I perhaps could do alone, but how reassured I’d be with her alongside. And with gratefulness of all she’d already done – both recently and over the years. Also lingering in the background was JT’s own history in losing her brother to cancer after a long battle years earlier. While my cancer seems unlikely to be as exotic as her brother’s there are still a lot of uncertainties as to exactly how far the cancer has progressed, what treatment will be like, and the long-term prognosis. Asking her to take another trip down that path doesn’t seem fair or right.

Trying to lighten the mood I half-jokingly asked if she would “PM” the “project”. JT was the program manager for several of my projects when we worked together professionally, and I have a great respect for her in that capacity. She’s one of the few people who can manage even me 🙄. And those same skills would no doubt be invaluable in the days ahead.

Eventually I sent off the email and spent more of the evening getting the house into a shape I wasn’t totally ashamed of.

Shortly before I went to bed I saw JT had replied. “Unwaveringly yes.”

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