Where The Popsicles Are-126

“She is feeling the best ever since a long time.”–Dr. Thomas

Joanie never mentioned what she had said at lunch about power of attorney again. In some way, I think it was just her way of telling me that she knew how serious the situation was, without saying it. I never asked her about it again.

Earlier this year in January, 2007, I had written to Ginny and Ed to bring them up to date on what was going on with Joanie. We hadn’t seen them for some time, and while we had talked on the phone, I told Ginny I would write them with details. There are times when you go into detail, and times when you don’t, so this is part of that letter, and what I wrote then still applied in July.

“As I told Ginny on the phone the other day, I was going to be emailing out an update on Joanie, but it would not contain the detail I think is necessary to give everyone an accurate picture. My standard response almost daily to “How’s Joanie doing?” is, “She is doing fine.”  And, for the most part that is a factual answer. She is doing fine relatively speaking.”

Since Ginny and Ed were family, and had seen Joanie through some really difficult times over the years, I gave them more detail than I did most people, since they knew more than most about what she’d been through. In that letter, I closed with something that applied in July as it did in January:

“Joanie continues to fight a battle with overwhelming odds against her, given the state of the cancer. She continues to pray for a miracle, and I know that is what it is going to take since everything I have read tells me that there is “no cure” for the situation as it currently exists. I do continue to hold out hope, and press the doctors at every opportunity  whether they are doing everything they can.”

I did stop at the clinic on one day, and caught Dr. Thomas between patients. They knew me so well in the oncology department, I could just walk back and see his nurse, Kathy, and tell her I just needed two minutes with the Doc. I asked him, when I had the chance, if they were being as aggressive as they safely could with Joanie’s treatment, and if they were doing everything they could. He told me they were. Of course, I knew that would be his answer, and I knew he was right. As her caregiver, I just needed that day to hear him say it.

July 3rd came around, and it was time for to begin the second cycle of the Gemzar regimen. She had tolerated the first one fine, and the problems she had with Topotecan were absent following the Gemzar. She would get one infusion today, followed by another on the 10th, and then she would have a week off.

Before the 3rd cycle of the Gemzar, they would do a CT scan to check on the progress, or lack of it, of this particular chemo drug. The prospect of that scan was the cloud that hovered over the house at 1205 N. Mandan St., but it did not follow Joanie around. She continued to spend as much time as she could at her office, which meant at least afternoons, and on many days a full day. She was as determined as ever to treat this damn disease as an irritant, or inconvenience, as opposed to the life threatening one that it was, and she was confident this was a battle she was going to win, despite the odds. Continuing to work was her way of showing everyone she was okay, and her attitude was still the same.


My own observations were that her hair was coming back, and she looked as healthy as she had in a long time. She had lost some weight, but had gained some back. She would still tire, but that was one effect of the chemo she couldn’t do much about, except take a break when she needed to.

When we came back to the clinic for the second infusion of the second cycle, Dr. Thomas was pleased at what he saw.

In his notes, he wrote, “Patient has been tolerating the gemcitabine extremely well. Her pain and discomfort in her left chest has improved. She did have some mild nausea and constipation but did not have any episodes of vomiting. She is feeling much better, stronger and gaining weight. She is feeling the best ever since a long time.”

After hearing what Dr. Thomas had to say to her, waiting for the infusion didn’t seem like much of a task at all. When that was done, she had a week off, and we would wait again. Wait to see what the CT on the 25th would tell us.


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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