Since returning to Oklahoma I've been involved with trips to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston every three weeks. I come with my husband's cousin, Ronny, and his wife, Tammy. The appointments are reminiscent of being rounded up as a herd of cattle would be for branding. Yet, there is method to the madness. M.D Andereson is choreographed well. It is no wonder they have an international reputation.
Ron is in the midst of a recurrence of nasopharyngeal cancer. This time it is impeding into the bones of his skull. Ronny is only 54. He and Tammy have three children aging 21 to 13. Until this time around we've felt hopeful. This time there is less hope. Since yesterday (Monday) Ronny has had multiple vials of blood drawn, seen three physicians, been fitted for a radiation simulation mask, had a dose of chemo, an MRI and plenty of hurry up and wait time. Today he had more simulation for the radiation, which will begin on March 10, followed by another MRI. Tomorrow is another busy day. We're trying to get finished and get home before the devastating effects of his chemo hit.
Watching the chemo ravage his body is almost more than I can bear. I have taken care of many patients over the years and had no trouble doing what was necessary to help them get better. On the other hand, doing things which may be uncomfortable for someone I dearly love tears me in half. For the next week he will lie very near death.
I try to stay calm and informed for everyone. It is hard.
When we are at M.D. Anderson the hell of cancer is visible and much like the proverbial elephant in the room. For every person sitting in the myriad of waiting rooms there is at least one family member or friend with them. Fear is tangible, but so is hope and courage. The employees are kind, understanding, cheerful and very knowledgable.
Cancer affects everyone. It doesn't discriminate. I have seen very wealthy people, including an entourage escorting a Sheik. And, I have seen those who seem to be homeless. All are treated well as best I can tell. I know my beloved cousin is in one of the best possible places to be treated for cancer. Yet, I wonder. I pray and try my very best not to succumb to fear or worry.
On a final note, I want to remember my own mother's courageous battle with lung cancer. She died in 1997, but she was happy and in touch with God until she drew her last breath. Should I ever acquire cancer, I hope to face it with the kind of hope, optimism, and courage of my cousin and mother.