Although now in remission, Ed has agreed with the oncologist, to take two more rounds of chemo in hopes he might not have another relapse.
Edward D. McClain retired from the U. S. Department of Commerce in 1995 and has been living in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, since 1996. Ed likes to work for his church, hunt, fish and collect rare firearms. He enjoys professional football, cooking shows and action TV shows/films but will not watch game shows nor talk shows. Ed is a two-time survivor of CLL, by the Grace of God.
Nurse Lisa and Nurse Suzzanne were hooking Ed up to the “plumbing” for his infusion “cocktail” as he began the first of two additional chemo cycles. Pattie sat patiently next to him waiting for the pharmacy to mix the cocktail. She patted him encouragingly on the arm and said, “Don’t worry. We know this is for the best, and the infusion time is down now to only one hour and thirty minutes. We will be out of here by noon and I will take you home and fix you a cup of Lipton’s chicken noodle soup.”
“Well,” said Ed, “what if I want one of their ‘world famous chicken salad sandwiches’?”
“If you eat all of your soup, I will go over to Rita’s and get you a double chocolate milk shake.”
“How can I turn that down?” Was Ed’s response.
Ed still did not have a good appetite and would not have been able to “do justice” to a chicken salad sandwich. His diet consisted primarily of coffee in the morning and sometimes with a slice of pound cake or English muffin. If he ate again before supper, it would be fresh or canned fruit or cheese and crackers. For dinner, it was typically soup and crackers followed maybe with some vanilla bean ice cream.
Knowing he was not going to sleep well, if at all, Ed was prepared to look at the TV from his recliner at home. Sometimes TV puts him to sleep for short periods of time, in spite of the insomnia caused by the steroids. Ed always had an interest in the game of chess, but none of his friends were ever interested in learning it with him so he had recently taught himself to play on the internet and became very good at the lowest level of competition. He would sometimes cuddle up with his lap top and play for hours on end.
John, Ed’s friend, neighbor and sometimes caregiver was now in the final stages of liver cancer, and Ed wanted to visit him. John was at home in hospice care. Ed would go visit John after one more day of chemo and two more days of insomnia. It seemed to Ed as if he had reached a point in chemo where he was never energetic as he was accustomed to and generally felt uncomfortable allover his body. Fatigue ruled Ed's life.
When John was in chemo last, Ed told him how when he finished chemo the first time and had gone into remission he had ordered “Fairytale Brownies” for the nurses and staff. After that, John brought two or three dozen doughnuts with him every day he was in chemo. John never needed for Ed to reciprocate as a caregiver, his wife was always available. Both of them were retired. John always said he only liked two kinds of pie and when asked what kind they were, the answer was “hot and cold.” Ed picked up on that and said he liked three kinds of pie. John said what are they? Ed responded “hot, cold and round.” Ed did introduce John to a favorite of his, chocolate meringue pie. Ed brought one to him and said “It is ROUND and tastes good HOT or COLD.”
A few days later, John and his wife went and bought another chocolate meringue pie. Sometimes Ed and John would share a can of sardines or oysters or kippered herring snacks with crackers and iced tea.
Since the beginning of John’s stomach cancer two years ago, Ed tried to keep John’s spirits up, to give him hope and desire to conquer cancer. John survived the stomach cancer, but three months later developed liver cancer.
Never lose hope.