Have you ever noticed that there are two sides of our lives? There’s a before and an after! Think about it. There’s our lives before 9-11 and our lives after. Before COVID and after (not that we are entirely after, but you get the idea). Big events that went on to shape how we “do life” now.
The same is true on a personal level. Watch for your memories on Facebook. As I see memories from early 2014, I am reminded how “normal” life was. No big cares in the world. I was working. George was working. We were enjoying life in our home.
Here’s a memory from this date (7/20) in 2014:
The caption reads: As we sat on our patio in our newly transformed yard, George looked up and saw this rainbow. For the next 15 minutes the sky transformed, gaining an iridescent orange glow.
It was beautiful – magical even. Who would know that in a few weeks our lives, our world, would be turned upside-down and inside-out?
On August 9, 2014 we received the word that George had cancer. Not just any cancer, but a rare and typically terminal cancer. From that day forward our life was transformed and EVERYthing would reflect that diagnosis. EVERYthing was impacted by this news. Now our lives would be the after-effect of this disease.
As I update this note, it is now September 30, 2022. September 30 has several before and after memories.
Before September 30, 2014, George was in the throes of worrying about his big cancer surgery. Nicknamed by the appendix cancer community as MOAS (mother of all surgeries), he said that he’d spent the final few days wondering if he would ever see his wife, children or home again. He did not know if he would survive the surgery and, if he did, he did not know what condition he would be in.
On September 30, 2014 I would spend hours in the waiting room awaiting news to be delivered from the surgical team. Would I get the “go” news that the surgery was doing well and would proceed with the heated chemo treatment or would it be “no go” that the cancer was too much and had spread too far. Fortunately it was a “go” at which point I could breathe again. Yet the surgery was very intense and resulted in the loss of multiple organs so life changed for us.
After September 30, 2014 as we tried to resume life to our new normal, there was always the worry that the cancer would return. Though George initially went back to work, by the end of 2015 he determined that he was too tired to maintain a work schedule and went on long-term disability.
Five years later, on September 30, 2019, George took his last breath on earth. What little life we had been able to lead for the interim years between 2014 and 2019 were done. He spent the last year of his life in and out of the hospital and then in hospice care (which was the best decision we could have made).
Ironically, September 30 is also “Rare Cancer Awareness Day” – so not only did George have a rare cancer, but his first big surgery and his death all occurred on that day.
Then life, for me, would change “after” September 30, 2019 when I had to learn to walk my life by myself and figure out what I wanted to do with myself. In those early days after his death, I had to wade through the muck of all one has to do when a spouse dies. Then I could make plans to really get out and live and enjoy what the world has to offer as I’d spent over fifteen years as caregiver and nurse for others.
Fast forward to September 30, 2022. My life has changed in ways I could never imagine. Partnered once again with a man that I will share the rest of his or my days with, traveling as much as we can. I am near my children and grandchildren so I can see them whenever I like.
And, today on this “Rare Cancer Awareness Day”, I will travel to San Diego to spend time with others affected by Appendix Cancer to attend a PMP Pals conference. It is not lost on me that everything is happening today (and over the weekend). September 30 has been and will forever after be a reminder of my many “before and after” life changing experiences.