When I was a psychiatric nursing grad student in the 80s, I did a clinical practicum on an oncology unit. As I live through our “waiting game” now, I remember what one of my patients said to me. He’d been given six months to live and had outlived his six months. “I’ve said good bye to everyone, and now I feel like I’m just a bother hanging around.”

As we settle in to this period of outliving the dire predictions Marv received upon diagnosis, I can say Marv doesn’t feel this way. In fact, he’s still busy with his usual activities and planning our next trips. Recently, he wrote an Easter note to family and close friends, and, if I pay him a royalty fee, he said I could use excerpts here. I thought maybe you’d like to hear his voice….

Happy Easter! Your thoughts and prayers have been very effective! The response from so many has been overwhelming for Lois and me. Every day I continue to have lots of energy and remain very busy doing things around the home and in the community. I’m thankful for the extra time I have been given and don’t know what the next health event will be and / or when it will occur. Each day I get up at 5 AM (don’t know why) but I go outside and greet the new day with a “thanks”. 

…I was warned my life expectancy would be maybe two months. Now, we are entering our 4th month, April [assuming the cancer was there before discovered in January]. I’ve experienced no changes in my health. It has been an emotional event for both Lois and me as we wonder when it will happen.

We’ve traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan and Chicago in early March. I visited my company’s office in Frankfort, Illinois and met with staff and retired staff members. Amy, a strong Christian believer, placed her hand on my shoulder and prayed that God would take this cancer out of Marv and cast it on the ground. I didn’t see anything exit; however, since then I have been feeling very good and energetic. Now, I wonder if the cancer is gone, or have I only been given additional time to transition our finances to Lois? Perhaps God has given me the extra time as finances are not one of Lois real interests…

…It is indeed a different event to experience and very emotional. It has been very positive for Lois and me to live – very rich! 

…So with love and thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers,

Sincerely, Marv

Our immediate family, now, has all been here to visit. Our daughter-in-law came last week from the west coast and provided us with much needed relief after we’d had an iffy day wondering what we should do with this “extra” time we have. She listened to me as I babbled on about everything from the new bedspread and sheets I’ve purchased, because I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle sleeping with the same linens if Marv dies in our bed, rather than an in-home hospital bed, to my making a therapy appointment now to set up that support system for when I’m alone.

You can see how my mind travels hither and yon as I engage in anticipatory planning. And grieving.

We had a great light moment too. My husband has always been on the move. He readily admits he can’t sit. Folks coming for dinner know he has a two-hour limit. Our minister knows he has an hour to finish the service. Marv’s inability to sit long is very convenient for me; while on the couch, I wait to see his body lean forward in his recliner, and then I issue my requests: “While you’re up, I’d like my water glass filled…a Frango Mint from the freezer…my reading glasses from the bar…” Except for bathroom trips, I can conveniently stay on the couch from when he serves me dinner there during the evening news until bed time.

So, when Marv asked our daughter-in-law if she’d like a piece of jewelry holding a bit of his cremains, she and I looked at each other and frowned. I said, “I’m not sure I want you hanging around my neck.” We Googled other possibilities. Perhaps in a paperweight? We all burst out laughing when our daughter-in-law said, “We could say we finally got you to sit.”

Now we look forward to whatever the next few days or weeks or months will bring, knowing the faith and prayers and support that have carried us this far, will continue to do so. Meanwhile, another hug tour is in the planning.

Chef making Sunday dinner

If you have a “living with Stage 4 untreated small cell lung cancer” experience, you’d be willing to share, please do!