Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Cancer Journey Week 27

Although radiation therapy is the easiest part of the journey thus far (except for the daily drives into Boston for treatment), we're awaiting the symptoms that will develop 2 to 3 weeks into the process.     Although Kathy has not yet experienced any skin changes, she is beginning to feel the transient shooting breast pain we were warned about.  Overall it's a small price to pay for preventative value of radiation therapy.

It's been a good week for Kathy and for Unity Farm (our property was the site of Unity Meeting House in the 1700's).    All twelve chickens are old enough to live in the coop and we've moved our house rabbits into the pen, so that our paddock looks like a Cadbury Easter egg commercial - clucking chickens and rabbits running around together.   We readied an acre of pasture for a new fence and redesigned the area around the barn to accommodate the herd of alpaca and llama which arrive this Summer.   We rebuilt the hayloft, added electrical and water systems to the barnyard, and cleaned out the woodlot.  Despite the persistent numbness and foot pain, Kathy has been keeping up with the farm activities and I devote my nights and weekends to heavy lifting.   We're both sleeping a bit more and I've lost 5 pounds via the  "farm workout" program.

One aspect of the cancer journey worth highlighting is the community of former patients, current patients, and future patients that connect in support of each other.   Every week I receive a call from a friend or colleague explaining that they, their sister, or their spouse has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.   To me it seems like an epidemic.  There is truly one degree of separation among everyone I know and breast cancer.

Thus, the journey continues and we are actively helping others with advice, encouragement,  and prayers.  Radiation Therapy feels like the last step in a long process, but we know the relief at the end of the journey will be complicated by the emotional and physical strain accumulated along the way.   Watching the chickens chase the fireflies at dusk makes every day a bit better.


Anonymous said...

Watching the chickens chase the fireflies at dusk makes every day a bit better.

What a lovely image!

Unity Farm sounds like a little piece of heaven on earth.

Thank you sincerely for sharing your stories. Wishing you both the best as your journey continues.

Jeff Chungath said...

I've tracked your posts on the cancer journey with interest. My mother who is a couple oceans away just got done with her radiation therapy. The similarities and differences are very interesting. She is a retired high school math/science teacher, who did her graduate work in microbiology. She retired to a farm/orchard where among other things she raises chickens and geese. Farm work never stops even through cancer treatment.

In our country, the U.S., we get to experience evidence based care and are getting better at providing care teams around a patient. Hospitals are pristinely clean and processes in place from check-in to setup of care plans. While there is still much work to improve the quality of care and patient experience it is a far cry from the fragmentation and downright disregard for the patient in small town India. My mother had very competent surgeons and oncologists given the tools at their disposal but the lack of care coordination, communication with the patient and overwhelming patient volume are breathtaking. Having spent 20 plus years in urban and rural healthcare settings in the US it was a shock to see how much there is to improve in rural India.

Cancer patients are a resilient bunch and spousal/family support can make that journey easier.

Anonymous said...

John, I was just informed of your blog and have become a faithful reader. My wife is a breast cancer survivor and I am finding the thoughts that you share in the blog to be a reminder of what we went through together. As a husband and wife team, the cancer journey is a shared experience and your perspectives are insightful and positive. I envy the time you spend together on your farm as you conduct this battle and the images of life that you share in your stories are vivid and moving. My wife and I wish you all the best throughout the journey to a healthy future. Dave

Mary Zacharias said...


I have followed your blog almost from the beginning. Words cannot express how much I appreciate all that you have shared over the years, both professionally and personally. I have learned so much from you and have shared your blog with many others over the years for various reasons.

My 31 year old niece was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I immediately thought of your blog and suggested she spend some time reading your family's journey through this difficult maze. We are both Registered Nurses and she had asked me to help her formulate the questions she needed to ask at her first appointment with the oncologist. I knew your blog would help her do that and I was right. She was well prepared and came away from the appointment feeling confident with the treatment plan and ready to fight.

We know we have a very tough journey ahead but with the support of family and friends we will get through this.

My niece has started a blog to keep family and friends updated on her journey and a personal journal to keep track of her good and bad days as it relates to her treatments, just as you did for your wife.

My humble thanks for all the positive things you do.