Back in June, I blogged (HERE) about a patient of mine who had pancreatic cancer – diagnosed just a couple of months after his step-son passed away from the same disease. Pancreatic cancer is one of those cancers that is almost always terminal. My mom died of it. A friend’s sister passed away from it two years ago. And it usually goes fast – two to four months. When my patient (we’ll call him Brian) told me his diagnosis, my heart sank. As health care providers, we have to look at diagnoses and treatment options with a degree of objectivity. My physical therapy niche does not typically deal with anything potentially life-threatening, although there is the possibility of my missing something serious like a blood clot or infection or symptoms that don’t add up to a mechanical problem and may indicate something more serious like cancer.
As Brian and I have spent several sessions together over the past couple of months, he opened up to me about some of the things he was afraid of – things you might expect: dying, leaving his wife to have to deal with two deaths, not riding his motorcycle again, all the damned house projects he doesn’t have the energy for (he was pissed it took him three hours to install a new toilet). Things he can’t talk to his wife or friends about. I’m no psychologist, and I asked him more than once if he wanted to speak with ours for real help coping with all of this, but he politely said no. He just wanted to talk, and he’d let us know if he did feel the need to speak with a pro. It was a little hard to listen and reply without getting emotional myself, but that wasn’t he needed. He needed someone he could bounce things off of, who would ask him questions back and just let him talk through things.
This week, he told me his oncologist felt his chemotherapy had actually shrunk the part of his pancreas with the tumor such that surgery is now a viable option. He is scheduled for the second week of September. His story of this terrible cancer may actually have a happy ending. He’s not out of the woods, and we all know cancer has a nasty way of recurring or metastasizing. But little glimmers of hope and good news are things to hold tight to in this crazy, uncertain world.
So, if you happen to remember this blog come September, say the 10th, offer up a little prayer or healing wish for Brian. I’m sure it will find its way home.
Peace and good health to you all,