March 3, 2012

the view from here

    Prior to stem cell transplant, my dad hungrily sought out any stories of other people going through stem cell transplant.  He was especially keen on the ones that worked.  The gentleman who despite having a heart attack 6 months afterwards was still alive.  The woman proudly striding through the hall at MDA saying, "4 years.  And I don't have to come back for another year."  But one story, I think, really stuck in his craw.  This guy decided not to have the stem cell transplant.  He died not too long after making that decision.  Guess he didn't have any fight left in him from his vantage point.  That may sound bizarre to the healthy.  But to those waging the war, it's not.
    Yesterday, while my dad received Day -6 Treatment, our conversation stumbled back to that gentleman who went quietly into that dark night.  "I won't even be able to go out in the sun anymore," and to anyone who knows my dad who made his living by the sweat of his brow, that's no small thing.  A decent sun exposure could trigger a graft-versus-host reaction even years afterwards.  The price of cancer. 
     The view of life changes in ways unimagineable, both literally and philosophically.  Physically, here's the view from my dad's vantage point.  For the next month, I'm not sure there will ever be a point that this pole with its various bags hanging will not be hooked up to him.  It's become an extension of his body.  He can't go to the bathroom without it.

     And here's the view from his room.  Ah, what beauty is the concrete jungle of a major med center.  My dad can't go outside for the next month either.  So the view through the windows will have to suffice.

    When faced with the daunting struggle ahead of him, I think for the briefest of moments, he might have empathized with the gentleman who said, "I'm done."  After all, even prisoners get to go outside.  To which my dad responded matter-of-factly, "yeah, but this gives me a chance at life."  There is definitely still fight left in him yet.

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