Lou, my husband, not only had an inoperable tumor on his lung, he also had a brain tumor that had metastasized to the cerebellum. It was all through his blood stream and would continue to settle where it wished.
“How long do I have?” Lou asked. “8 to 12 weeks” she said gently. 2 to 3 months?? This could not be real. We walked to the car, and I said, “We take longer than that to plan our trips to Michigan every year!”
Lou said, “Babe, if she would have said we had longer, I was going to tell you to book us for a trip to New Zealand and Australia immediately,” (Lou didn’t like to fly any more, but knew these were my dream trips). “The problem is, I am getting weaker by the day and would be afraid to be so far from home, not knowing what is next.”
It was nice to hear, but it was also a dream down the drain. A dream that suddenly meant less than nothing in light of what we were experiencing.
Before we knew it, we were spending the next few weeks riding to full-brain radiation treatments and, compliments of my compassionate boss, escorted in the mortuary limousine to Ontario every afternoon. The radiation didn’t hurt beyond a bad sunburn effect, but wore Lou out even more.
I was emotionally drained, but was still trying to put in several hours of work each day once April, our daughter got there to relieve me at home. She became my rock. We both were Lou’s. Lou could no longer be left alone. The anxiety levels were huge and only diminished when I was in his eyesight. We struggled like this for about a month when I finally just went on family leave. April continued to be there a part of every day.
The more I learned about Lou’s cancer the more discouraged I became, so I purposely stuck my head in the sand as much as possible. After all, it was my job to keep all of our spirits up. I started looking for our miracle.
I spent evenings and late nights researching and buying everything that sounded like it could help or heal Lou. We would beat this thing by doing every healthy thing that made sense and praying hard for God to make it work. We would start right after radiation.
When radiation was complete, the doctor said Lou needed to start chemotherapy of the chest the following day. “What will that buy me in time?” he asked. “No more than 2-3 months,” she said. “Not a good trade, is it?” said Lou. “We won’t be doing that.”
“Then I will start you on Hospice tomorrow,” she said.
Hospice. I knew what that meant: this was it. I began to realize every time my head was resting on Lou’s shoulder it was a time bomb and it was probably going to go off sooner than later. We had so much to talk about, yet Lou was getting less and less verbal. He was internalizing a lot of what he was thinking and feeling and the increased medications were making him less sharp.
This was becoming a nightmare of epic proportions.
Lou sat down with me when we got home. “There will be no protocols to follow, no zapper, no cleanses. If you want to juice or have me do other natural things to keep up my strength as long as possible, I will drink whatever you put in a glass. But send the rest back if they will take it. Otherwise, dump it.” With tears welling up I said, “Why won’t you let me try?” He said, “If I die anyway, you will always blame yourself. This way, I am just in God’s Hands, not yours.”
Always, to the end, thinking of me first, looking ahead 8 moves and moving the pieces in his mind and foreseeing the outcome. I had always trusted Lou to study the moves of our life and give me his logic. Now, in spite of all I wished for and had bought to help him, his answer was “no.” And once again, though this time it broke my heart, I trusted him.
My dad made the decision to stop chemo and and went on hospice care. His children understood want he wanted for himself. In my opinion, death reveals dignity to each of us.
I totally understand your dad’s decision. It is a brave one… I know. When you realize it doesn’t heal anything, just prolongs life, it doesn’t seem like too much of a trade, as Lou said.