>The Cancerville 100

15 Jan

I’ve been moving through the days. Broken. Battered. Heart rather tattered. I started writing almost two weeks ago and am just getting back at it. The weeks race by in a blur of living in the moment. Something I’ve gotten much better at. I used to live forward. Always. But when your life suddenly upends with cancer, you realize that each moment is what you have. Sometimes ALL you have.

So before I go back to the week before last to recap and update and remember, I’m going to start with the now. Because now there is an empty spot in my lap/by my side/on my leg. After 13 years of not getting a solitary moment of down time without a purring ball of fluff joining me, I’m empty. It’s a heartache piled upon the heartaches and feels like the breaking point. I can’t picture going forward without Pearl for solace. Her little kitty kisses have gotten me through all of the hard parts. She knew when I needed her even if I thought I didn’t. I could call to her, “Pearly-pearl! Sweetest kitty in the world!” And there she’d be in a flash. Meow. Up on my lap. “Here I am.”

In the last year especially, I’ve found my knees out from under me. Sadness overwhelming me like a dank, dense fog. And she’d appear. Purr. Head under my hand. “I’m here.” And when I had each of the babies in my big, round belly. And growing. She’d hop up on the couch with me and spread her long, furry body across the bump. Thrilled by my stillness and restful state. Willing me to please slow down and just sit a spell.

When Tuesday came and the hubby was loading up to head to California for a couple of days I said, “I have a bad feeling. Pearly-girl doesn’t look right.” It took a bit before he fully agreed. Trying to dismiss my maternal worries. But I just knew. I was at the vet within two hours — x-rays, temperatures, pokes. And even as she had that thermometer rammed up her butt twice, she barely flinched. Wouldn’t look at me. My heart started to crack.

The kind vet. (So kind.) Said, “She’s barely middle-aged. Don’t give up hope yet.” But I saw it in his eyes. They even went through the motions of “have you been away recently on a trip?” No. She isn’t depressed. She is NOT herself. Not my kitty.

It wasn’t until noon on Wednesday — when the blood tests came back — that my fears were confirmed. She was in full kidney failure. A blockage out of nowhere. And she was done. Suffering through. I tried to keep her on my lap. Hold her. But the ultimate lap cat was stiff. No idea where she was. Yeowling in misery. My heart cracked open. And I had to help her.

The vet was willing to come over in the middle of the night if I needed him to help sustain her — just so I didn’t have to deal with this without the hubby. But I couldn’t do that to the one who had always been there for me. Always. It was something I had to go alone. I got a plan in place with Purse Girl and Lady Lou and True Blue and L-Rocks and Nanner’s mom. My own mom was crying so hard that we knew we were of no help to each other. The hubby was in meetings in San Jose and I went inside myself. Prepped to break the news to my two broken-hearted girls. (My friends, you have no idea how much you saved me.) Then after pictures, many kisses, and hugs, carried her to the car and made Purse Girl drive.

Even though you know this little being may only have hours to go. Even though you know from the sweet, sweet doc that those hours will be full of suffering. There is nothing on this world like carrying your sweet, innocent little kitty-baby into that room. Knowing that this is absolutely it.

I find myself wanting to go back. Take it back. Pick her up. Bring her home. I keep looking at websites for Manx (even though she was the pound kitty version). But you can’t replace a love like that. It will just take time.

We had a theme song for her. It’s something we do with the family members — both human and canine. And Lady Lou posted it on her Facebook status with the RIP. “Pearl, pearl, twist-n-twirl. Jump around like a flyin’ squirrel. Don’t you cuss and don’t you swear. Jump right out and form a SQUARE.” (Yes, we lifted a bit from Bugs Bunny. I doubt they’ll mind.)

And then today would’ve been my Mima’s 90th birthday and also is the 9th anniversary of my uncle Stu’s suicide. Oh Friday full of heart break. Here you are.

It’s with those sentiments that I take you back to last week…

There comes a time in cancerville when you become a ghost. The initial fire and fame drawn from a diagnosis of the dreaded c-word becomes a distant memory. The cross over can be all but imperceptible. The calls slowly trickle away. The go-tos stop remembering that you have further to go. “Shouldn’t it be over by NOW?!”

Damn, but it should be.

One of my friends called it a marathon. I think of it as an ironman. The CANCERVILLE IRONMAN. And you may even get the added bonus of a century run just as you’re crossing the finish line. You just never know what lucky surprises and prizes may await around the next corner. Not to mention that the main even consists of a bike ride through quicksand, a swim through crocodile-infested waters and then a sprint across hot coals.

But I didn’t even know about the invisible part. Life goes on. People try, try, try. But it’s impossible for someone to KNOW what it’s like unless. Unless they have been taken to a room and told by a kind doctor that you have something growing deep inside you that is intent on kicking the shit out of you. [Pun intended.]

Pity party barely contained, I woke up today with a renewed sense of gettin er dun. After a day of tears and outbursts and a heart-pounding anxiety breakthrough of my drugged Lexapro state, I faced the sun. It was a new day. A new year. And a new round of chemo.

Thing is, we were lulled into complacency by over two weeks of nearly normal existence. No more spontaneous poop combustions (aka SPCs). The hubby was able to go for a hike even without having to race home. We both took off as much work as we could and savored mornings snuggled on the couch — sipping lattes, reading the paper, playing angry birds and letting the girls watch Disney XD until their brains started to leak from their ears. Some days we’d head out for an adventure. Other days we could be found eating dinner still in our PJs.

One day we even hit the gym. The girls swam in the heated pool outside while the hubby and I switched off with workouts. Another day we hit the gym and let the girls play in the kid center while we got massages. Uh. Yes. (Love my new gym.)

We made palettes on the floor in the living room and watched movies via Netflix streaming and on in demand by the bucketful. We had spontaneous gatherings with good friends we happened to run into on the fly. We ice skated and went for gelato. We hit a new favorite pizza place more than once. (Along with the new favorite ice cream spot next door.) And we hit the town for Christmas eve. Got all gussied up and had a ball at True Blue’s annual bash. Then, on the way home, had an extra burst of energy and dropped by TRPL TRBL’s for a final toast to the evening.

But my favorite part? Being together. Not many appointments, no email and lots of cuddles. And the hubby getting a nice long taste of medical freedom.

Just before Christmas — as we prepared for a few long weeks of bliss — I had a scare that almost caused a SPC in me. I’d dutifully completed my 40-years-old booby squashing. (I’m such a rule follower.) Then I got called back in. It seemed like no big deal. Something about dense tissue. Yadda-yadda-yadda. So I made the appointment without giving it much thought. It wasn’t until I walked into the room and saw the scan with the bright spot circled that I paused. “This is the area we are concerned about.” Oh.

I bellied up to the squasher. It was a spatula-sized one for squashing that bright spot that was now causing me to dim. And I went back to the waiting area with the rest of the shirtless women and texted the hubby. “This may take a while.” Sure enough, they called me back again. “The radiologist is still concerned. We need another. This is going to hurt. We recommend Advil.” So while the hubby and the girlies are home baking cookies, I’m starting to fade. “Just tell me. I’ve been through this already. Don’t take me into a room. Just level with me.” I think I scared her with my fierce tone. But she faced me and said, “I truly think it’s okay. But we just want to be sure.” And they weren’t sure until after one last squash that made me think perhaps that one may just be ripped clean off. To hell with surgery.

The wait was beginning to be painful. My armpits started to squirt water and my face was the color of a beet. The hubby texted back, “WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON?!” I started to let my mind race. Surely no. Could the universe really be this cruel? I jumped back to the story of Bill and Mary. Friends’ of Nanner’s fam. He was fighting Stage IV colon cancer and she got breast cancer. Seriously.

They finally took me to the room. But it was all okay. I took a big gulp of air and went into the little room to dress. Swabbing at my sweaty pits with the supplied wipes and feeling really sorry for the next sap who got stuck with that sweaty booby top.

Then on New Year’s Eve we headed to the Rock-es and partied like it was 2010. Beat the hell out of the pinata Amy G sent us that was labeled with 2010 all over it. I was so, so sure that we were turning a corner. Starting fresh. Even with the chemo ahead. There was no possible way to prep myself for losing more of my solace within a week or so. No more furry, purry beast. Tail-less wonder cat to the rescue.

So now that I’m down two key pieces of my support net and my husband still has more cancer fighting ahead, I have to stop. Think. Wonder. Cry. Then pull myself up and together. And get on with it yet again. (Though this time I may be limping a bit.)

TODAY’S THEME SONG: Losing my Religion. REM. I thought that I heard you laughing. I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try.


3 Responses to “>The Cancerville 100”

  1. Bob January 15, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    >It's been NINE YEARS since Stuart died? WOW! The time has flown. I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty. You have had a hell of a year and a half. I don't know where you get your strength from, but if you could bottle it and sell it, you'd be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Keep fighting the good fight and know that we're thinking about you and your family. It's funny … I found some old pictures of Christmas at Stu's house with you, Kenny, Cory, Frank and Francis. Robbie wanted to know who was in the picture. I think he remembered Francis, but that was about it. Oh how I wish he could know his WHOLE family. Maybe someday!Take care you guys and know that I think about y'all a lot!


  2. Lara January 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    >Thinking about you and your bunch Cassy. I'm so, so, so sorry about Pearly girl. I had a kitty that I loved like that, and lost her to kidney failure. Sending you all the good, healing energy I've got. Love to you all.L.


  3. catie January 16, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    >Cassy,So sorry to hear about your kitty. I had a furry soulmate once whom I lost to cancer…At that time, our vet gave me a card that said, "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you…I loved you so–'twas Heaven here with you." That helped me, so I'm passing it on.–Catie


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