In this post Nearing the End – part 2, is when things started to get real. While week to week we were getting bad news, this was a time of absolutely no return, where it was clear all signs lead to one thing – the end.
The ascites (you can read about that here, if you haven’t already) was one thing that was definitely taking its toll, as the days went on with this, the fluid just increased. It got to a point where he wasn’t able to eat very much, as his stomach was usually so distended, there wasn’t room for anything else. It was a concern because obviously due to the amount of treatment he was having, it was also important to try and keep as much weight on, as possible, though the disease was melting it away.
It was during this time of hospital trips and Nick’s inability to eat much, that somewhere along the way, I stopped cooking dinners and I was living off the hospital sandwiches and coffees that the chemo nurses, would order me for lunch.
Though we lived in the heart of the city, we would visit beautiful restaurants, within walking distance, but we’d order very little, mostly leaving without finishing one meal between us. A part of me, just couldn’t stand the thought of hoeing into dinner, while he watched me, barely nibbling on his own. In our previous life together, I would dish up and eat, exactly the same as him, though I was half his weight and here I was, again mimicking his eating pattern.
My weight plummeted with Nick’s, i’ve always been slender, but when I look back at this time, I see my protruding bones and hallowed cheeks, I lost approx 7 kilos, which is pretty noticeable on my frame. After Nick had passed, a friend of ours commented, that we had looked like ‘walking skeletons‘. Nick took to wearing a black hoodie, even on the warmest of days, sometimes, he’d wear the hoodie actually on his head, because he was so cold. He’d joke that we must look like ‘a pair of junkies’ with our darkened circles under our eyes and his bent over gait when he walked. He was probably right, with our baby in the pram, we must have looked quite a sight, walking the streets of the city!
He was also having to wear a chemo pump on weekends. This is basically a hard cylinder type tube about 6 inches long, that was connected to the IV port in his arm. He’d have to wear it for 48 hours, while it slowly administered his chemo. It was a hazard in itself, sleeping would take an extra 10 minutes for Nick to get comfortable, while he positioned it, so that we wouldn’t bash into it during the night and showering with it was always difficult, as he’d try and hang it up, to keep it out of the water.
For the most part, you wouldn’t normally notice it, because he’d keep it hidden under his jumper or jacket, but occasionally, if he wore a t-shirt, there was no hiding it. We would go to hospital first thing Monday morning, to have it removed and one day, whilst in the lift with our baby in tow, a guy got in with his small child. He turned to Nick and said, ‘thats a great way to carry your baby’s bottle’, I remember cracking up laughing and Nick just said, ‘its my chemo, actually’, the guy looked so embarrassed, he ran out at the next floor, we joked about that moment for days after, ahh, that good old cancer humour, you get your jokes where you can!
It was around this time, nearing the end, that we also discovered that Nick’s cancer had spread. This has to be one of the biggest fears of any cancer patient, because it signals a win for the cancer cells. Nick’s had flowed on to his liver and decided to make a new home there. Apparently, a normal occurrence with pancreatic cancer. He now had metastastic pancreatic cancer, (metastastic being greek for displacement – of course it is, right!) It basically means, it has now spread from one organ to another and it’s not a good sign. He now had a secondary cancer site, and while the doctors assured us, it was one of the ‘better’ places it could have turned up, it was an absolute disappointment to Nick, just another sign things weren’t going well. He was found to have two cancer spots on his liver, below is an excerpt of the email he sent to his work friends following this news:
‘On Monday a CT Scan was done to monitor the progress of treatment of my pancreas, unfortunately for me the news was not what I wanted to hear, doctors found 2 new cancer spots on my Liver (10mm & 15mm). As you can imagine, this is not the news I was expecting. My pancreas at this stage, has not shrunk but has stabilised which is good news. This is a very difficult note for me to write, as its not the news I wanted to communicate.’
As i’ve previously mentioned, things were not in our favour, it was just more bad news, one of the final blows came on one of our nurse home visits. Our daily nurse had arrived and went through her normal checks, when as a last minute thing, Nick asked her to look at his leg, he felt it was a little sore. She took one look and said we needed to get to hospital asap. As it turns out, it was a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis, if you prefer. It was just another thing we had to deal with, the nurses loaded us up with clexane injections to be given daily and we were off, just another thing to chalk up on the scoreboard – Cancer 10, Nick 0
But through all this, as evident in the photo above, Nick kept smiling.
Happy to have another day to spend with us all, knowing it was going to come to an end, but still managing to see the positives in his day.
How many of us can say we do that, in our everyday lives?
Til next time, Michela x