It was a day like many for me. I was doing my work as a carpenter in my little town and went to the hardware store for supplies. I could not find my way home after buying the wood glue, and I lived only four blocks away. I knew I was in trouble but when I looked at the phone I could not figure out how to use it. I finally made it home and called my sister to get our brother in laws number, as he is a nuerologist and I thought I was having a stroke. Noone was home so I drove myself to the hospital (another four block drive but much better navigated) and was in the hospital having multiple scans for the next few hours. They found that my brain had several small lesions and one large mass.
Three days later I was on an operating table and they were removing a 4.5 cm tumor from deep within my brain. Fascinating stuff, how they are able to open your brain up and yet I can still type this today, two months after the surgery and could have typed this a month ago, for that matter.
As I woke from surgery they gave me the diagnosis and prognosis. I have glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal type of brain cancer, with an average survival time of 14 months from prognosis…well well, not such a good prognosis but I had read up a bit before surgery so was not too surprised to hear it. The details are still fuzzy from the surgical anesthetic but I do remember my three boys (ages 18, 20, 22) coming in to see me. I guess I gave them forty six years of life lessons in forty five seconds, or so they tell me…again, all a bit fuzzy from that time for me, and perhaps that is for the best.
I have since appointed one brother to be my medical agent should I need assistance and finalized all other aspects of wills–both living and final wills. My first wife Becky (and the boys mother) died ten years ago from breast cancer so I knew some of the ins and outs of death, dying and hospice care from that time. She passed here in our home with my boys and I and hospice care was here as well for her final few days. Becky and I said all we had to say to each other long before she passed so I have no regrets or things that feel unfinished or unsaid. I have lived present to each moment for many years now because life is too precious to harbor a grudge or carry yesterday into today.
I am now nearly finished with radiation and chemo and then will have a month off before new scans to help determine the next course of action. If I can be of any help to someone here, I am most happy to do so. We are all in this life together…