It's a creekmore world

Cancer Week #21: The End of Cancerpalooza: Slash, death and diamonds.

Guitar God!

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There’s just one more awesome week of cancerpalooza.  It’s Monday the 13th of September.  Surgery is next Wednesday and Trish will finally have the cancer out of her body,( although with lots of reconstruction challenges.)

A lot of the week is spent planning and preparing for Trish’s 2-3 nights in the hospital, and the ensuing week of care.

And then we go to the final concert of Cancerpalooza – Slash!  And he is amazing.

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Cancer upsets the kids again

God I miss them.  I still have Monty though.
Last time there was cancer, in 2003, our kids were too little to understand much.  But both were affected strongly.  Our one-year-old Lily, would get sympathy sick with Trisha during chemotherapy and throw up every time Trish came home from treatment.   But there weren’t any words to share, and Emma at 4 years old must have been frightened even if she didn’t understand too much of what was going on.

We just tried to be normal for them.  That seemed like the best strategy for their age.

If you’ve been reading the blog, you know we’ve tried anything but being normal the second time around.  I have tried to make the summer special for our girls.  I want them to see me taking great care of Trisha, and as much as possible, keep them informed them about the nature of cancer and it’s treatment.

OMG did they not know?

Lily's get well note, typed by the school counselor.
Wednesday night flies by and it’s well after the girls normal bedtime.   Emma does a theater program after school on Wednesdays, and Lily does gymnastics.  We always end up getting home late and doing homework.   I really want to put them to bed quickly after a long day.

But something is wrong.  Emma, our less expressive one, is looking melancholy, or maybe wistful.  I can’t tell which.  ‘What’s up, Emma?” I ask, kissing her on the forehead.  I plan on heading down for dinner as soon as I tuck them in.   Lily gets a kiss too, and I move to turn off the light.  “I dunno, I’m just sad.” she says.

Emma, can't ignore the facts.  "even though it will be six months'
I might have said “You’re just tired.  Think happy thoughts and let’s talk in the morning.”  And I would have been right, but the thought flashed in my head that something was really wrong.  So I sat and probed.  “Do you know what’s making you sad?  Are you scared about Mommy’s surgery next week?”

“Yeah” she mumbled sheepishly.  And in a flood of guilt, I realized we had never talked with them about what’s going to happen during surgery next week.  In our own deliberations and selfish anger about two lousy reconstruction options, we didn’t keep the kids informed.

They listen to me describe the whole thing intently for about 20 minutes.  They know nothing about surgery whatsoever.  Of greatest relief, they find out that Trisha wouldn’t be awake during the process.  Lily fears that Trish would have to watch her own surgery.  They crack up at the thought that she will get temporary blow-up boobs, like balloons,.

I’m glad I took that extra minute to make sure they were okay.

The healing gods of hair metal.

The healing power of Guns and Roses and Stephen King

Trish broke her back in 1988, when she was 23.  She, in the backseat of a small car, crashed head-on at high speed with a truck.  No one died, but there were some very srious injuries including her own torn intestines from the lap belt.  Trish was released from the hospital after a week or so, and went home.

A week later, suffering badly from back pain, she went to a doctor who discovered she had been prematurely released from the hospital and had been walking on a broken back.

Yeah, this is the guy I want to see in the hospital.
New surgery put rods in her spine for stabilization.  She required months of traction, bed rest, crutches and physical therapy.  She eventually recovered enough to dance, play ultimate Frisbee, climb the glaciers of Norway, crash backwards around a tree skiing, and have a natural childbirth after a c-section.   In many ways, that accident defines her.   She, sadly, experienced near-death at a very early age but also developed super-human strength to overcome it.

In the 80’s, hospital stays were long.  Trish recounts passing a lot of her time in a hospital bed watching 80’s daytime TV and staring at a poster of Guns and Roses.  She imagined that they were taking care of her, giving her the energy to recover.

Night Train!
When she wasn’t listening to their music on a walkman, her mom would read her Stephen King’s latest best seller IT, which has also made Stepehn King one of her idols.

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Slash forward 25 years

Guns and Roses don’t play anymore of course, but I quickly bought tickets last June for Slash, the Gunners amazing guitarist,as soon as I heard he was touring.  No matter what, I was going to get her to that show so she could fight for her life, again.

At the time I got tickets, Slash had only announced two shows:  Norfolk Virginia and San Francisco at the Warfield.  I first tried to make the San Francisco date work.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous for her to see him back in San Fran, only blocks from where she recovered from that accident?  Those shows were during a chemo week and wouldn’t work.

He's always staring at the frets.
So that left Norfolk, Virginia, which is fairly close and drivable.  Norfolk is basically Virginia Beach, the vacation getaway of so many people from the mid-Atlantic.  We’ve never been.

The drive down to Norfolk

On the drive down, we play the new Slash album.  Each song reminds me of different parts of the summer of chemo.   In early June, when Trish still felt well, we would blast Starlight at home while the kdis were still at school.  It’s a vague song about loss and hope.   Gotten reminds me of that lousy week where we fought with each other bitterly, torturing the caregiver/patient relationship.  Crucify the dead is performed by Ozzy, who we met recently.  And We’re all gonna die has been sort of the theme song for us.

Continued, so read on!

One thought on “Cancer Week #21: The End of Cancerpalooza: Slash, death and diamonds.

  1. Kimberly Martin-Epstein

    I think about you guys all the time. Your strength is astounding. We’re in DC fairly periodically now and would love to see you. Let us know if there’s anything we can do – or bring you from “up north”!

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