rare: rer/
(of an event, situation, or condition) not occurring very often.

As far as the English language goes, it’s a simple word. Four letters, one syllable–an innocuous word when not applied to a noun. But, throw a noun into the mix and you have something either really good or really bad. Example: Rare mineral…you’re rich. Rare painting…again, you’re rich. But add a noun like, condition,  disease, reaction, side effect or malignancy and you have found trouble  (no matter how rich you are).

20160620_083931.jpgWe were told 7 weeks ago about a rare cancer. Really really rare–fewer than 100 English language cases since its discovery in 1919. Rare.

Things that aren’t rare with this form of cancer, fear, anxiety, grief, anger, regret, etc, etc. The non-rare emotional side effects of this cancer are like all other cancers.

My Gretel is optimistic…she’s the positive light in my otherwise cynical life. I’ve been forced into uncharacteristically sunny demeanor the past few weeks…she needs that more than anything else right now (other than treatment). So I’ve slipped into an unfamiliar skin. Mood up, find the silver lining, don’t complain, don’t show fear. Man I suck at that.

But today, my Gretel’s second round of chemo begins…her first round of IV chemo. And she is not being sunny…time for me to slip into my happy suit. She’s crying. “Don’t cry, baby. They’ll have to use another saline bag to replace the moisture”: FAIL.

I really suck at this. I’ll just hold her hand.

20160620_084006.jpgTwo different chemotherapy drugs will be infused; one will be done today, the other will flow continuously for 5 days via portable pump we will take home with us. For 5 hours we’ll sit here in the Tysons infusion center getting various concoctions injected through her brand new, subcutaneous titanium vein port. Oh, you would not believe the number of cyborg references I’ve had to swallow, unspoken. “Honey, calm down. Please don’t assimilate me.” , “Baby, you sound cranky, maybe you need to power down and hit the recharge station”.  I mourn for the lost Borg reference opportunities.

Side effects may include depression, exhaustion, and perpetual bad attitude. Frequent doses of romantic comedies are suggested to offset, along with generous portions of hand holding, and cuddling. Salt Caramel Gelato helps a lot too.

We’ll know more about the real world side effects after a few days at home. We were encouraged by the noticeable lack of side effects when she was on pill chemo…tiredness and loss of appetite being the only big ones we faced. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, as her infusion pump beeps, feeding medicine through her titanium port, I have to find a way to resist saying, “dilithium injection chamber at 100%. Disengage, disengage.”

UPDATE: Okay, it took 7.5 hours to do it all. There were aaaaaa lot of IV bags involved in this treatment and the exhaustion set in early in the process. Some side effects have already started popping up. We’ll have to monitor this process closely. The look on my Gretel’s face when she saw the size and felt the weight of the pump she’d be wearing for the next 5 days was heartbreaking–she was picturing something much more compact. That’s okay… Chik-Fil-a Chocolate Milkshakes make everything seem a little better.

At least I didn’t say aloud that the pump looked like a Borg Collective integration transmitter (even thought I really, really wanted to.)

S.L. Shelton is the author of an Amazon Bestselling Political Thriller/Action Espionage Series, (The Scott Wolfe Series). Follow him here on WordPress, on Twitter @SLSheltonAuthor or Facebook.  His wife Diane suffers from an advanced cancer and is in aggressive treatment, consuming time, energy and resources. If you feel the desire to help, you can make a contribution to the GoFundMe that their daughter set up, or buy his books.


2 thoughts on “Rare

  1. I have always thought that cancer is like real estate — location matters. In my case, I had “common” twice. You are very right. “Rare” is ideal in many cases but not when it comes to cancer. You wish for adjectives like “ordinary,” “usual,” and “typical.” My personal favorite would be “routine.” I am positive that Amazon and all your fans will understand that you need to devote your time to your wife during this very trying time. Let us hope that God hears (and agrees with) our prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

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