Saturday, February 04, 2017

"Seven spots on his brain"

I went to see The Bodyguard with my friend Barb. We had a lovely dinner and, since we took it on its own terms, we enjoyed the play. But the news she had wasn't good.

Her husband John is battling lung cancer. His lungs have responded well to chemotherapy, not eradicating the cancer but slowing its growth, but the disease has spread to his brain.

"Seven spots on his brain," she said with an apprehensive casualness. She reminded me of a toddler who falls down and watches for your reaction before she starts to cry. I tried to remain impassive.

"Oh, I didn't know it had spread. How will they treat it?"

She told me they "zapped" his brain -- I didn't ask how many times -- and think that "did the trick." They're waiting for test results. It's not the brain cancer that's the problem, it's the fact that the lung cancer spread that is disturbing to his oncology team.

Then she went on to tell me about the house they're building in Hilton Head. It's already $20,000 over budget and still nowhere near done -- mostly because of the elevator she added. He will never be able to walk up stairs again. So she's come out of retirement to freelance. Between his doctor appointments and her new job, she's fallen behind in preparing their current home for sale. She's simply too tired to keep packing as she'd planned.

I feel like telling her, "You're never moving to Hilton Head! He'll never be strong enough!" But I am her friend. My job is to be supportive, and so I simply let her talk.

We never talked about her surgery. She had a mastectomy last year, which went well. Her breast cancer is, blessedly, in remission. But her reconstructive surgery has been very complicated. She's suffered infections and setbacks. It was scheduled for last November but had to be postponed.

I couldn't bear to talk about that over dinner. Instead I let her complain about Donald Trump. She hates Donald Trump, and I think ranting about Washington gave her hectic, complicated and suddenly sad life a veneer of normalcy.



  1. Sounds like quite an intense dinner.

  2. What a terrible illness this thing is. Just listening to your friend was a great gift to her. Bless all your hearts.