It's a creekmore world

Cancerpalooza Epilogue


That final post sat on my hard drive for a month in a mangled draft form.  It was so hard to find the capacity to give this blog any attention this winter.  I burned several years worth of creative energy last year.  But for the sake of closure, I need to wrap it up and publish it.

That time has come.  Here are a few final thoughts and some of my favorite pictures.

Tomorrow we head to Peru for a two week journey.  Being back on the road doing adventure travel marks a full return to the life we left a year ago, when, having just returned from Italy on spring break, she was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer for the second time

Billy Gould (upper left), Jon Hudson (lower left), Mike Patton (right)
The family and Trish have been doing well lately.   She just came back from a check-up at the cosmetic surgeon, and things look pretty good.  She will need some follow-up surgery in 3-5 months, but it will be minor.

And they will have enough skin to put on the artificial nipples that make the breasts look more natural, which is great.  Looking at smooth dome breasts is weird.

Another flow of joyful tears bursts out.
She, is, as far as we know, still cancer-free.  She will begin the 5 years of close monitoring soon.   Most likely she will  have six-month check-ups. We’ll find out at her next appointment with the oncologist in a month or so.

Emma is going to middle school next year and is excited about picking classes. More thrilling is that she is getting a mobile phone. It’s so exciting to her, that she carries my old one around with no sim card and pretends she’s texting.  Lily has become more responsible and has grown out of the difficult phases (like shoplifting) she was going through last year.

Fuck You Cancer cake!!!    From Kasey and Betty.   Umm,  yummy.
Trish is back at work, doing writing for Travel Channel and consulting for Voice of America.   She still hasn’t gone back to trapeze or dance class, both important way-points for her recovery.  But that should begin shortly. She went to South by Southwest and was inspired to refocus on her profession, from which she has been more-or-less absent for 18 months.

So life is nearly normal again, whatever that means.   I made my first post about Trish’s cancer about 11 months ago and overwhelmed with grief, I cried and cried.  Second-time cancer for a mom with 2 young girls is a thousand times more frightening than the first.

That's Slash right behind you, Trish!
Looking back, it was even harder than I thought it would be.  I figured we would get the cancer out and get a definitive diagnosis quickly –  even if it was terrible.  But the doctors preferred to do the mastectomy last, leaving us uncertain of the situation for months and months.  That was agonizing.

So we made Cancerpalooza to distract us, and remind us of our inner strength while she did the chemotherapy and we all awaited the final diagnosis.

Show us your tits!
I’m incredibly proud of the family’s response to the cancer.   Cancerpalooza was like the global travel we have come to love so much.      We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves.  If it was going to be Trish’s last year on earth, she was going to go out with a bang.  It’s something our girls will learn from, and maybe emulate, when they encounter challenges of their own later in life.

But the unexpected gift of Cancer, was I discovered that I had unconditional love for Trish.

The extraordinary energy, courage, willpower, and effort to take care of my wife (and our daughters) didn’t come from a romantic or emotional place.  Trish and I, like most of you who are married, have a rewarding, but challenged relationship.  We are far past the drippy, romantic stage in our life.

The cancer has been sentenced to death and executed by Dr. Tits.
Serious cancer (like any serious illness) unravels the love of marriage.    Divorce rates for cancer victims are much higher (especially if the woman is the victim, sadly to say for my gender.)

I can see why it happens though.  It’s fucking hard to be the caregiver, especially with young kids.  It’s really hard to stay focused and care.  At many points your instinct for self-preservation kicks in, and it feels like you should abandon the whole thing.

The way I took care of myself was to go back to talk therapy and get to the gym 3 times a week.  (I’m also in better physical shape than I’ve ever been.)  But I could have just as easily turned to drugs or alcohol, to which I was formerly addicted.  There was a lot of emotion I sought to avoid, and lot despair that I deserved, but didn’t indulge.

It's 104 in Washington D.C. today.

The crisis has left me grateful, but mystified, that I found the constitution and wisdom to respond maturely. I can’t say it came naturally or easily or that I’ve been like that all my life.  It came from somewhere deep inside of me that I didn’t know I had.   This has changed me.

The Creekmore girls and Helen Hayes from Joy of Motion
I have come to know what it means to give up oneself, to love unconditionally; to take care of someone because it’s the right thing to do – not because you feel romantic love, not because you get something out of it, and not because you want to.  But because you have made a promise to hold that person through the scariest parts.

Lily is surrounded by light.
On my own voyage of self-discovery, selfless, unconditional love of a spouse isn’t a destination I thought I would visit.  My expression of love for Trish has always been generous and caring, but it’s not without expectations and needs.  (No one’s really is, is it?)

This experience has deepened my understanding of life and the relationships we make.  It has made me appreciate the rest of life so much more.

Like any difficult, foreign destination, the reward is the story you tell afterward.  And I have a lot of stories to tell of this journey.  I blogged them here so I don’t forget, but I’m glad it’s over.   This better be the last cancer post I write.

My favorite wig.
Thank you to everyone that helped me and Trish get through this.  We’ve been awed at the response and care that you all showed.

We could never repay you except to know that we will do the same for you or a loved one of yours because we love you too.

And to those of you that are still supporting someone, or did but lost them, my heart goes out to you.  Many of you had it way harder than me.

Have courage.

Tinkerhell is ressurected!



11 thoughts on “Cancerpalooza Epilogue

  1. Candy Stribling

    Yours and Trish’s journey through this and the courage to face the obstacles and come out on the other side- stronger and committed is certainly an inspiration to us all. Your words and experience has been an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing your journey.


  2. Eric

    Still remember the pink for tink event, and was glad to be apart of it.

    So glad that this is over for you. Look forward to reading about the travels you guys have, make my boring life interesting for a while ;D.

  3. Dave

    Great to read this epilogue post. While I was not reading your blog prior to the second diagnosis, I have been reading ever since. You both are extremely inspirational and what is most wonderful is that you both realize that you have come to a better place in life, regardless of what the result would have been.

    I will continue reading on in the hopes to experience more adventure through you and Trish. :)

  4. Wendee Holtcamp

    I am so touched by the selfless love you showed Trish and the courage with which you both approached the last year. Maybe it didnt feel like courage at the time but it sure looked courageous to me, and it was beautiful and touching to an outsider and this last post made me cry! I applaud you guys and I will look at your story as a beacon for when I may face trying times in my life. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your trip in Peru – the Amazon is awesome. Make sure to eat some passionfruit! :)

  5. Lynn Cowan Bliss

    We came across your website randomly while searching people’s names we knew on Google. It has given me so much to think about, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your outlook on life. It’s made me rethink mine. Thank you, David and TinkerHell! (Julia told me about Trish’s lasertag name and we busted a gut)

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