Where The Popsicles Are-71

Hope is where you find it.

We had been faced with bad news before over the last seven years, but this news cast a pall over the house at 1205 N. Mandan, unlike those other times. This time we knew we weren’t talking about a cure like we were when she went through with the total pelvic exenteration in 1998. This time the treatment would be aimed at controlling the disease, and hopefully preventing a further spread.

When I came back in from outside, Joanie was still sleeping on the couch, so I didn’t wake her. There would be plenty of time to talk later. I went to the computer, and began to look for any answers I might find to the questions I had that were based on the little knowledge I had at the time. I was entering uncharted waters as far as my limited knowledge was concerned, and I didn’t know what I might find that would give us some hope.

Later that evening, I came to realize I didn’t need the computer to find something that would give us some hope. It was sitting in our living room on the couch, and her name was Joanie.

It was around dinner time, and I asked her what she would like to have to eat. She told me she wasn’t that hungry, but what she would like is some good French bread, some olive oil for dipping and a glass of wine. She asked me if that was okay. I told her I’d be right back, and went to get the bread.

When I returned with the bread, I poured some oil in a bowl, grabbed the bottle of wine along with glasses, and we went out back to the deck by the pool. It was a pleasant evening, and I shut off the pool pump motor so it was even more quiet. I poured us both some wine and she began to talk.

She wanted to know what I thought, and if I thought she was going to have to do chemotherapy. I danced a little bit, saying just that I thought there was a new problem to deal with, and that chemotherapy might well be what it takes to deal with the new problem. She put me on the spot, and asked me what I knew for sure. Now, I couldn’t lie to her, so I told her briefly what the pathology report had shown, and that there was lymph node involvement, and the biopsy Carson had taken from the neovagina was also positive for cancer, and confirmed that it was metastatic. I told her from what I knew based on my limited knowledge, it appeared chemotherapy was in order to halt the spread and control the disease.

We talked again about not borrowing trouble, and waiting until we met with Dr. Carson in about three weeks before we would know anything for sure regarding further treatment. Then she asked me, “If they want to do chemotherapy, will I lose my hair?” She asked that with a half smile on her face, but I knew it was something she dreaded, and the thought of losing that luscious head of black, wavy hair was an unwelcome one. I just told her I couldn’t answer that, because I didn’t know what kind of treatment they would be using, or what the side affects would be. I tried a little humor and told her she wouldn’t look that bad as a baldy.

She dipped some bread in the oil, took a sip of her wine, and told me she wasn’t surprised at what Carson had told her, and what I had told her. She told me she had been afraid of that since the tumor showed up on her bronchial tube, something she had never said to me before. I asked her how she felt, knowing what she knows now, and she smiled at me and said, “I’m scared.” She hastened to add, “I may be scared, but I’m not ready to give up, and I won’t”

Sitting there in the twilight, looking at her I could see the same kind of resolute look I had seen before, and it gave me some comfort, and made me love her more. We raised our glasses.

That was the hope I was looking for that I couldn’t find on the computer

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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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