So – Nathan has been in the hospital for three nights. Two of my friends are also in with their children. I know them from “way back” which is never a good thing in the cancer world. They haven’t escaped this life yet either.
H is the same age as Nathan and has been fighting for 4 years. They slowly chipped away at his disease until a few months ago he was “clear” for the first time since diagnosis. Eight weeks later scans showed the cancer was back. He had a round of chemo and then got a fever and his blood counts haven’t come back up and they have been in the hospital for 2 weeks. He is going to get some stem cells on Monday. His mom, G, is great. When we first came here she introduced herself to me and then took me on a tour and gave me the lowdown. They have an apartment in New Jersey because they mostly live here and occasionally get to visit home and Dad. Her mom is here with her constantly to help (thank goodness!). H is an only child. They were trying for #2 when H was diagnosed. G says she can’t bring herself to have another because they have been in this fight the whole time and she is not sure how she will manage being pregnant and caring for H. H will probably get this same treatment as Nathan. G was excited to see the trial start. I lent her my copy of the study protocol for some light reading.
J is a teenager. He was doing the cold antibodies at the same time as Nathan back in 2003. His Dad, D is his primary caregiver while his wife and daughter are at home. J and D also have primarily lived in NY for three + years. D is so friendly and caring. D &J are always going on adventures. D took Nathan and I out one Saturday that we were here in 2004 and we went to Fire Island and some other places. Basically – we just escaped the city and the drudgery for awhile and it was so wonderful. J has never been clear. They have made progress at times and then things have gotten worse again. A few weeks ago they were actually at home. The doctors called J to come to NY to start the hot antibody study. D and J had been waiting for this trial. It has great promise and was the only thing left for them to try. J was scanned and they found him to be ineligible for the trial. They are still in NY doing some other chemos but are not given any hope for much time left.
So – Nathan just did this trial J was waiting for. D has been telling me how great it is that it is Nathan doing this first. Meanwhile – it should have been J and the trial basically just didn’t get going soon enough for J. He keeps asking me if I am just so happy Nathan got the treatment. Of course I am but how can I look him in the eye and be happy? He came in to talk last evening while Nathan was sleeping. He has been told once again that they will do one more round of chemo and then they should go home. Being “sent home” is something all cancer parents fear. I can tell D just doesn’t want to go home. He talked of going off on more adventures rather than going home. His wife is at home and is angry and her anger is directed at D. She has taken very little part in this whole medical journey and has been the breadwinner. The separation between them is total and complete. When I look in D’s eyes I can see the pain and anguish of this whole situation. I worry about him. All the while he is asking how he can help. He is chatting and laughing but his eyes can not hide the pain.
I am hoping to climb on out of here in a day or two – but I cannot really leave this place or the people in it behind. My heart is heavy.