At first, I wanted this blog to be about me "taking on" various projects - home renovations, art and craft projects, writing a novel, university courses and the like, with perhaps the odd rant about pet issues like noise pollution and the coarsening of society, but then life intervened in an entirely unwelcome way. In mid-October, my wife, Kate, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. The day we received the diagnosis was the day Fear moved into our house. I guess when Franklin Roosevelt uttered the words "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," he hadn't had to deal with the uncertainties of a late-stage cancer diagnosis.
The worst part of those early days was nailing down the diagnosis, waiting to see an oncologist, establishing and starting a treatment plan, arriving at a prognosis. Fear thrives in the cold absence of information, and in those early days Fear was barrelling around our house farting and belching and leaving a toxic miasma everywhere. We had no idea what we were in for.
Almost two months later, though, Fear has moved into a cold, damp corner of our basement. He makes a trip or two every day up the stairs to let us know he's still hanging around, but on the whole, we've established a livable relationship with each other. Now we're getting frequent visits from Hope and Gratitude. Hope visits us because the oncologists have told us that while there are no guarantees, we have reason to be hopeful that this particular form of breast cancer can be brought under control and be treated in the longer term as a chronic disease and that the arsenal upon which they can draw to fight the disease is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was even ten years ago. Hope also likes the fact that, despite the raw emotions of the early days of diagnosis, Kate is facing this challenge with dignity and good spirits and is responding very well to treatment.
Gratitude finds our home welcoming because friends, family and neighbours have been unbelievably supportive. They have visited us, cooked for us, had our daughter over for sleep overs, helped us move furniture to accommodate Kate's needs and have just been thinking of us. We cannot express in words our appreciation. Gratitude is also always keen to hear our stories of the professionalism and genuine compassion of the people we've encountered at the Ottawa Cancer Centre and the Oncology Ward of the Ottawa General Hospital. Finally, Gratitude is glad that come what may, Kate, our daughter and I have each other in the here and now and that means more than anything.