The Cancer Diary: Part Two
The fall of 2007 San Diego burned. While fires raced through the county, Max and I sat on the deck of our beautiful home and watched flames lick the sky, believing we were immune from the inferno. The third night of the fire we went to sleep peacefully only to be awakened at 3 a. m. to the smell of smoke. When I reached to turn on the light, the electricity was out. I had to grope my way in the dark to the office window where I could clearly see flames leaping down a nearby hill.
Max and I made a bungling, yet harrowing, escape from our farmhouse in Pauma Valley to the nearby town of Temecula, where we stayed with friends for a week. While evacuated, we received a call from the UC San Diego hospital. The biopsy Max had taken the day before the fire began had come back positive for cancer. Not only cancer, but a far more aggressive type than the original adenocarcinoma. He needed the resection. There was no longer any real choice.
We all know that a diagnosis of cancer can be a death sentence when it returns with a vengeance as it did in Max’s case. Scared and shaken, Max agreed to the colostomy without his typical resistance. He underwent the surgery the day before Thanksgiving 2007. The recovery from the resection was long and difficult. I’ll never forgot watching him suffering and sick, only to learn later that the staff had to hold him down that same night to thread a GI tube through his nose and into his stomach.
Thanksgiving that year consisted of cold, tough turkey and dry dressing in the hospital cafeteria. It was the loneliest Thanksgiving I’d known.