Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mask Day


Not Tax Day.  Well we were not thinking about that at all.  We had appointments for the 'mask'.  I'd looked up what this CT mask was all about but still wasn't quite sure how it would be used.

Jackie the coordinator met us in the waiting area and sat us down for a conversation.  She began by explaining how the 'mask' would work and how the treatments would be coordinated.  

Rich told her the 'the guy nurse' from Oncology at the VA said that this would be a 'calk walk' for Rich because he was a Tough Guy.  And that the feeding tube couldn't be put in right away because they didn't have openings.

Jackie's eyes grew a bit large and she said quietly.  "No Rich, this is no cake walk.  It is going to be rough and tough, there will be some bad days, but we are here to help you make it through it.  Your throat will become so sore as to be nearly unbearable at times.  Your mouth will get dry, you will get thick nasty mucous.  You will get tired and feel drawn out..."

She then began to explain how we'd attack these issues head on.  Salt/baking soda/water rinses.  Special mouth wash, special creme for his neck, ... she went on to explain how to take care of the mouth and how diligent he had to be about his teeth.  

Rich asked her how sick he'd be from chemotherapy.  She said that the strength of the chemo is not the same as they would administer for something like breast cancer.  He wouldn't lose his lovely hair.  She smiled and wanted to know where I stood in all of this.

"I am his back up support.  I've got his back," I said.  Rich glanced over and smiled.
"Yeah, she is."

Rich then left for the 'mask' fitting.

Jackie asked me if I had questions.  
"Oh sure I do, but I don't know what I am getting into."  I nodded at my husband who was walking down the hall, "He really needs a lot of care, more than he thinks and I mean that... before he was diagnosed."

Jackie nodded to herself as if making a mental note.  She said her card was inside the binder she'd left me and if I ever needed her, I could call.  She also assured me that she would see us often during and after treatment.

I read through the booklet that Jackie left us.  There were blender recipes and articles on self care.  
I decided I best start by studying everything they had to give me.  I was facing a potentially very long uphill battle.
Don't get me wrong.  I love my husband, but he really isn't as tough as he thinks he is.

I'm not tough either.  But it looks like I better start working on it.
....And my Mask too.  


  1. Val, you and your husband will get through this. Not having spread and in 1 lymph node is so much better than the alternative. When our daughter was 37 she came to the farm one afternoon and told us she had breast cancer. We were floored. I immediately called a friend who had been through breast cancer and runs a support group and we were at her house that day. She had an awful lot of information that put things in perspective and after that we went through the process.
    Jenny ended up having a double mastectomy (even tho it was only in one breast) and went through weeks of chemo. At the time, her kids were two and four. I went with her to chemo several times and the atmosphere was great...tons of support. She did lose her hair and when it started coming in again and was very short, she looked like a model. In June she will be 45 and is all about organic food and is in excellent physical condition...bikes and runs when she can. She was out of work for 4 weeks and went down to from 40 to 25 hours per week while she was still having chemo (she was the Chief of Staff for the Democrats at the County Legislature). You get into a rhythm and know pretty much how you can expect to feel on what day. Please let your husband know that there is truly a light at the end of the tunnel.
    I know just how you feel in the emotional department. It sure puts things in perspective and your sense of appreciation for everything changes. One day at a time. You two can do this.
    If you ever need to talk to someone, I am here and can figure out how to get you my phone number.

    1. Thank you Lori, it is a journey and one we expect to make it through. I hope this helps anyone facing this also.

  2. Hi Val!
    Thank you that you allow me to read your blog. I am very impressed by what you have written so far and how you deal with Rich his diagnosis of throat cancer. My English is not good enough to express my feelings in a situation like this. Your life has changed radically and there is a long and hard way ahead to Rich his cure. The prognosis seems to be good, which is encouraging for the treatments Rich is facing and for you who will be there to support him. It will not always be easy for you too. I will keep on reading your blogs and my thoughts are very much with you. Els (Elsa from Flickr).

    1. Thank you Els! It won't be easy but we will work through this, thank you for reading and commenting.
      Your support is appreciated.