Where The Popsicles Are-66

Hope is still here.

“When you have no choice, mobilize the spirit of courage.”–Jewish Proverb

The news of the mass by her right bronchial tube had become real for us by now. Along with the news came those handmaidens of cancer, fear, uncertainty and confusion. We thought they had abandoned us, or we hoped we had relegated them to a dark corner of the basement, never to be heard from again. After all, we had put five very good years between that surgery in 1998 and by now, I had begun planning a celebration, even if Joanie hadn’t.

The day after we got back from Minneapolis and the meetings with Dr. Carson and Dr. Maddaus, Joanie went back to work, as if it were just another day. Once again, I could see that she wasn’t going to let the situation consume her life, nor was it going to dampen her spirit. During the three weeks we had to wait until we went back down for the surgery, she as busy as he always seemed to be, and went about her job with an attitude that was amazing.

I think she was matter of fact when some of her friends would ask her what was going on, but she always put a positive spin on it. It was only when she was home could she kind of let down, and I could see it bothered her more than any of her friends ever knew. She could be short with me, but not the kitties, when she was feeling down, and she knew I could handle it. Even given that, I never heard her say, “Why me?” which to me was a testament to the spirit she had shown for years.

I did my best to put a good face on the future regarding the surgery. I had been on the computer going through any sites I could find that would give me a straw to grasp. I found one that said if the cancer was primary, and it was a stage II, surgery might be curative. We hung on to that one, even knowing we really didn’t know what the hell we were dealing with.

The prospect of chemotherapy was also lurking in the background, depending on what they found when they did the surgery. I think Joanie feared that more than she feared another trip to the operating room. To date she had escaped that treatment. The anecdotes one has heard over time, and knowing people who had been given chemo, like her mother, dad and my sister Judy, did nothing to allay the fear, uncertainty and confusion that comes that prospect. It was something that, in early May, she refused to even consider. As far as she was concerned, Maddaus was going to do his magic, and she’d get back to work, that’s all there was to it.

The 14h of May was a Wednesday, and it was a travel day for us. We went through the same ritual we had gone through so many times before, including saying good bye to Muffin and Peaches and giving them treats. We stopped at Mable Murphy’s in Fergus Falls, and after we checked in at the Radisson, and Joanie had a chance to take care of what needed to be taken care of, we met Ginny and Ed for dinner. We had to check in at the hospital at eight thirty, and surgery was scheduled for ten thirty in the morning, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t have dinner, just that she couldn’t have anything after midnight.

When we walked from the Radisson to the hospital that morning, she was quiet, saying nothing to me until we got to the front door. When we pushed on the door to enter, she just looked at me with a half smile on her face and said, “Well, here we go again.” All I could think to say was that it was going to be okay

We stopped at the admittance desk, and they were expecting her. After she signed the usual papers, we went up to 7C to wait and get ready for the trip down to the pre op. There were a few nurses we recognized from her time here before, and they recognized her as well. The asked her what brought her here this time, and after she said she needed some work done on her right lung, they wished her well.

It struck me, there was some kind of weird comfort in being in a familiar place to have something done to you that you were dreading. As we sat there, waiting to go down, we were hoping at the end of this day we might know more than we did this morning, and what we would know would be that she’d be okay.

I know that’s what Joanie was counting on, and once again it proved that hope hadn’t deserted her, and that gave me a good measure of comfort, even as we faced the uncertainty.

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About Bob Kallberg

Retired reporter. Concentrating now on recounting Joanie's 12 year battle with cancer, a battle she waged with extreme courage, determination and an indomitable spirit, that, for me, serves as an example.
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