The stories in these blog posts are a mix of thoughts remembered by me and others in our extended family. It also incorporates a series of writings by both Judy and I, penned in the last couple of years of her life, most of which was written in near real-time as her disease progressed, right up until her ultimate death.
There are some things that I am unbelievably glad I started doing in life, and near the top of that list is writing things down as they happened, at a time when I could clearly remember them to solidify memories, and also sometimes to record the fun side of a monumental metastatic shit sandwich that had to be eaten. I published them publicly so I could inform all of our friends, and anyone in the world who wanted to listen, and maybe help others.
Writing my thinking down was principally a cathartic outlet. It was bloody good for my head.
And there are some things that I am incredibly pissed off at myself that I put off doing, like not starting those writings in earnest earlier, as soon as the metastatic shit hit the fan, or indeed twenty-something years earlier. Admittedly, we were a bit busy living and loving, though. Well, that and I’m not an author.
I did write things down occasionally in the early period where cancer had spread, to inform close work colleagues mostly as to what was going on, and I also collected a bunch of medical vital stats about the state of her health and the state of her cancer. These have been able to be incorporated as well.
The blog was an outlet, but also helped me get my head around everything that was going on, as writing many of those short stories required researching a lot about a lot of stuff that, being an ordinary bloke I had absolutely no idea about.
Judy's oncologist, Dr Rob was meticulously brilliant over the entire time that he treated Judy. He was meticulous in his descriptions of disease, symptoms, scans, treatments and more. These great descriptions enabled me to research stuff so I could get my head around the things that I should do, and the things that I should understand, and the ways that I could help Judy to give her the best shot at wringing absolutely everything out of the rest of her life. And living it with the utmost quality and dignity and fun until the end.
Life is for living, not for moping about focusing on dying.
Life, and death happen.
From a personal viewpoint, there is a certain cliché around what should happen in life, and over what timeframe it should occur that is burned into my brain, and probably the brains of millions of others. The cliché stems from averages. So if you’re Mr and Mrs Average, then good luck to you, as the average age of death continues to climb as smart men like Dr Rob get even smarter at keeping us alive.
Most people, and hopefully I get to count myself in their number, get born, grow a bit, have kids, grow a bit more, finally get richer after usually starting out poor, become empty nesters, grow up some more, look after grand kids, spend less money than earned so as to leave some for the kids, then grow much older, and then die.
The shitty reality of life though, as I have learned through this heart-rending experience, is that often a whole kind of different shit happens that wildly departs from the statistical normal.
Yet, just because it is less than a usual average does not make a life any more or less valuable, nor any more or less cherished. It does not enhance nor diminish a love story. There’s just less time to value and cherish and love.
Stories, like that contained in this blog remind us to make the most of everything.
Please, make the most of everything.
Judy died at just fifty-four years old.
Losing my soul mate before we could live a full and average life fills me with a sadness like I never believed possible. An integral part of me feels now gone, and that will sadden me to the end of my days.
Some people might get angry at a loss like this. Others might shrink into depression. But for me, I am trying my level best to bear this kind of sadness as an integral part of my living, which is making me a better person too. It is a monumental struggle, though.
The number of people who die from the same kind of shit that Judy did every day is astonishing. It is nine per day in Australia, and more than 1,700 per day worldwide, and for me, learning not so fun facts like those as a part of researching and writing about, and caring for Judy has opened my eyes, and made it a little easier to cope, and accept.
I know that I am not alone. My tears are a drop in a global ocean.
I know that many are not as fortunate as Judy was, living to be fifty-four years old. Many die in their thirties, and forties, even some in their twenties.
I know that there are thousands of new stories so similar to this one created every day, and I know that almost none of them are written down. And if you consider other cancers than just cancer of the breast, that becomes tens of thousands of stories every day.
It will be hard at times to live with the sadness I feel. Although I am strangely starting to become glad now to live with such a huge loss; a sadness embraced in proportion to the incredible love that Judy and I shared. I’ll hold it close to my heart forever, and rely on it to bring back memories of tears, and smiles, and laughter, and sighs of contentment at experiencing a great love.
I can’t bring back Judy, but I can be thankful to have found her, and to have lived such a love story with her.
One day maybe I will be truly gladdened to have been so saddened, but that day is quite a way off yet.
For the full catastrophy, visit https://www.map59.com/cancer/