CancerDance- a love story
'CancerDance- a love story', is a journal
written while navigating the nightmare
existence a perfectly normal family
becomes embroiled in once the Big C
enters their lives, changing everyone
forever.

Spanning almost a decade, 'CancerDance-
a love story' is a testament to the sheer
power of love, a reminder that we're all
much stronger than we think we are, and a
warm embrace to those dancing along with
us...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I wonder whatever happened to "normal."

I asked my son yesterday if he could even,
in his ten year existence, remember a time
when our family life didn't consist of
hospitals, operations, recovery, repeat.
And though he made light of thinking it
over, he was serious when he said, "No.
Not really."

I'm trying to come to terms with our new
reality. Not our beloved old knock-around
house at the edge of Brownsboro TX (pop.
756)—chickens in the yard, turkeys on the
porch, drifting off to sleep to the chorus of
hundreds of spring peepers down by the
pond—but this hotel room in the middle of
Houston (4th largest city in the US of A),
the non-stop cacophony of helicopters and
ambulances rushing to the hospital district
glowing just a few blocks away.

And, as crushing as living here with no set
ending, no date we can circle on the
calendar, is, we refuse to leave without
Ward. He's here. We're here. They tell us
it's going to be a "very, very long haul" but
that's fine as long as we're all here and all
together.

I've known Ward for 16 years and we've
been a couple almost 15. This is not my
first go-around on the relationship/marriage
train, but this is the only time I can honestly
say there's never been one minute, one
second, that I've ever thought, "Hmmmm,
this just isn't working out."

Ward's the best friend I've ever had, the
best father I could ever imagine for Alec,
and truly the Love of My Life. And even
though I'm surly, argumentative, and
difficult, for some reason he feels the same
way about me.

But while other couples—even those who
still love each other deeply—stagnate and
flounder a bit under the day- to-day child
raising and working and bill paying, wishing
for some excitement to knock the dust off
of their routines, we crave the opposite:

Quiet. Normal. Boring. Stay-at-home Life.

I know, from tuning into every morsel of his
being, which is wrapped up, trussed up,
invaded, and hooked to machines that
surround him carnivorously, that he can
hear me. I hold his hand, and talk to him,
and at sensible times there are signs—the
twitch of his hand in mine, the raising of an
eyebrow, the flicker of an eyelid, the rising
or lowering of his blood pressure—that tell
me he's fighting as hard as he can. That no
one wants to go home more than he does.

So we wait. And I keep him company,
holding his hand and reading aloud to him in
an almost insane caricature of normalcy. I
pretend not to notice the nurses and others
coming in and going about their medical
business—the business of keeping my
husband alive till his body is strong enough
to once again keep itself alive.

And outside the hospital walls, I meet other
people who complain petulantly about the
irritating habits of spouses, or the boredom
of their jobs, or the tiring, mind-numbing
chores inherent in the raising and training
of children, and they look at me like we're
all in the same secret club and ask, "Yanno
what I mean?"
I think of what I wouldn't give right now to
find beard hairs in the bathroom sink, or a
collection of half-empty soda cans
abandoned around the house, or even to
simply be at home in our own bed—
together.

And I can't even feign thinking about it
before answering, "No. Not really."
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What people are saying about
"CancerDance- a love story"-

"This is an extraordinary true-life
account of a family's journey through
several years of cancer treatment. The
way they dealt with the many challenges
is very encouraging to anybody dealing
with serious medical issues.
Not long after I read this book, my own
husband was diagnosed with a very
serious cancer. I'm so very grateful to
have had the chance to read
"CancerDance" beforehand. It really is a
book that will make you both laugh and
cry, and give you a lot to think about."
-Kindle reader

"I titled my review The caterpillar
struggles to become a butterfly because
it expresses what many families go
through because of cancer (or other
illnesses/traumas)...trying to free itself
from the bonds of the chrysalis it seems
as there's no way out for the
caterpillar...time seems to stand still...but
the struggle makes the entire being (the
family) stronger for having gone through
it...once the caterpillar emerges it needs
to dry its wings in the sunlight before it
can take wing...and though a thing of
beauty once it does, there will still be
good times and difficulties ahead.
How one family danced through the trials
and tribulations of cancer
treatments...and emerged Monarchs all...
-Kindle reader  

"I love memoirs, but only REAL memoirs.
I don't love sob stories or pity
parties--OR saccharine, sterilized
accounts that are meant to be "uplifting"
but aren't. Because this is a memoir
about Sheri's husband's cancer, I wasn't
sure what to expect on these scores.
As it turned out, there was nothing to
worry about on any of those fronts. For
one thing, Sheri wrote most of this as it
was happening, so nothing is glossed
over or prettied up. And some of it is very
un-pretty. But some of it is gorgeous. The
title of the book really says it all, for me:
this is about one very loving family, and
the terrifying but also grace-filled
"dance" that accompanied their
harrowing experience with cancer.
I recommend this book to everyone,
including cancer survivors, current
cancer patients, and family members of
those who are undergoing treatment.
This is a very real account--nothing is
sugar-coated (and I mean NOTHING), but
that's what makes it so very, very good.
And so genuinely full of love and hope."
-Kindle reader

" I guess most people prefer fiction
where you can control the events that
happen to the main characters in your
book. Unfortunately real life gets messy
and spins totally out of your control. This
book, written in journal form, kept by the
wife of the cancer patient as they go
years of trial both in and out of the
hospitals certainly portrays that fact.
First of all you get to know the deep
fierce love that this family shares even
before the grim diagnosis of cancer. The
steadfastness they show to one another
throughout the ordeal should be a
example to all of us. The pitfalls that you
can fall into even in the best cancer
center in the country is laid out in
horrifying detail. Every one should read
this and heed the caution as they
approach health care. After all providers
are human and do make mistakes often
with very dire outcomes. The family does
make it through and forges stronger
bond than before. There is no real ending
because this is life and it only ends one
way. A great book for anyone especially
those faced with the health challenges
that so many of us have in our life's.
Inspirational."- Amazon reader
"I don't get too many non-fiction requests. I
guess most people prefer fiction where you
can control the events that happen to the
main characters in your book.
Unfortunately real life gets messy and
spins totally out of your control. This book,
written in journal form, kept by the wife of
the cancer patient as they go years of trial
both in and out of the hospitals certainly
portrays that fact. First of all you get to
know the deep fierce love that this family
shares even before the grim diagnosis of
cancer. The steadfastness they show to
one another throughout the ordeal should
be a example to all of us. The pitfalls that
you can fall into even in the best cancer
center in the country is laid out in horrifying
detail. Every one should read this and heed
the caution as they approach health care.
After all providers are human and do make
mistakes often with very dire outcomes.
The family does make it through and forges
stronger bond than before. There is no real
ending because this is life and it only ends
one way. A great book for anyone
especially those faced with the health
challenges that so many of us have in our
life's. Inspirational. I give this book a 5"
-Kindle reader

" started this book one morning and
finished it the next evening. I just could not
put it down. It will make you appreciate
every good thing that ever happens to you,
all the good people you have in your life. It
makes you realize so many things that
you'd never even thought of, such as how
your "family" isn't necessarily your blood
kin, but those you have shared your kinship
with. It gives you a little more hope in
humanity and also hope that IF the time
comes that you have to be stronger than
you ever dreamed you could be, you
probably can do it, without losing your
ability to feel. Whether you will ever have
the author's strength to fight the "powers
that be" in order to advocate for a loved
one you just can't imagine living without is
a question you won't know the answer to
unless it happens to you. It has a very
satisfying ending, although I won't give
anything else away."
-Amazon reader

"This is an extraordinary true-life account
of a family's journey through several years
of cancer treatment. The way they dealt
with the many challenges is very
encouraging to anybody dealing with
serious medical issues.

Not long after I read this book, my own
husband was diagnosed with a very
serious cancer. I'm so very grateful to have
had the chance to read "CancerDance"
beforehand. It really is a book that will
make you both laugh and cry, and give you
a lot to think about."
-Kindle reader