Owen and Jackie are back in the hospital again this week, this time for testing and the administration of several chemo drugs. Testing was yesterday, with aspiration of cells from his spine. The fantastically wonderful news, my friends, my sweet, sweet friends who have been praying for Owen, is that he is officially IN REMISSION.
Yes, that is what I said: RE-FRIGGIN'-MISH-SHEEE-AWN, BABY!!!!
(BIG FAT GRIN.)
Treatment will continue for two more years, plus a little, as protocol requires to keep him in remission. The treatment for this type of leukemia follows a set of three phases: induction, consolidation, and a third phase whose title currently escapes me. Owen'll be working through phase two, or consolidation, for the next six months, and apparently this phase will take him through several cycles of healthy/sick/healthy/sick and can be very difficult for the patient and the people around him.
Regardless of how cancer-free ('NOTHER BIG FAT GRIN) Owen is, he's still getting chemo, and as most of us know, the butt-whoopin' chemo delivers to cancer gets carried over into the rest of the body. Which makes my BIG FAT GRIN want to fade a little, but I keep reminding myself that this is necessary and is the part of the whole treatment shebang that prevents Owen from getting cancer again. Butt-whoopin', do your stuff.
I spent a lot of time this weekend with or near my friend Angela. On Sunday she had a celebration of his Tom's life and then yesterday was the funeral. She is sad. She's holding up remarkably well, but y'all... this is HARD, and is going to be hard for a very, very long time. We've talked about that, she and I. I've been doing a bit of research on how to support Angela over the next months/years (and I have your input, as well, so thank you so much for that, all of you!) and I have some ideas - some kind of neat, different ideas, I think, that I've come up with, based on themes that kept coming up in my research.
One such theme was this propensity of friends and family to flood a surviving spouse with attention and support right after she's lost her mate and then to get lost again in their own lives, leaving her feeling alone and forgotten, and feeling as if her spouse has been forgotten. I really do not want Angela to feel that way for a moment, so I'm thinking of making some hand-beaded bracelets for those close to her - neighbors, friends, family - to wear every day over at LEAST the next year, to remind us of Tom and Angela and their precious daughter, and spur us on to keep loving them and doing for them beyond these first few weeks. Do y'all think people would like that idea and want to wear them?
The second theme is this one of people wanting to do and say the right things for a grieving spouse, but, never having experienced a major loss like this one, not knowing exactly what to do and say, or doing and saying the WRONG things. Obviously Angela will need us, will need our friendship and our presence in her life, and obviously, we want to be giving her exactly what she needs. If I'm doing something wrong, I definitely want to know about it, wouldn't you? But Angela's probably not going to feel comfortable saying to us, "You're making this harder on me." or "I need you to do THIS." or "What could you possibly be THINKING?"
Now Angela has a wonderful sense of humor. She loves to laugh and is always cracking jokes with her dry, wry wit. If I've said once to her, I've said a thousand times, Angela, you are a NUT! (And this never seems to come as any surprise to her, which is nice.) She also enjoys her wine, just like I do (well, I do!). So I was thinking, with all that said, maybe she WOULD be comfortable, and maybe would even ENJOY, having a stack of brightly colored business-sized cards to keep with her that just say, Bless your sweet heart for wanting to help me. What you are doing right now ain't helpin'. If you really want to help, shut up and bring me another glass of wine!, that she could hand to people when they're saying or doing something that isn't hitting the mark with her. It'd all be in good fun, of course, but would also be her get-out-of-jail free card, in a sense, and may perhaps light-heartedly open a dialogue with people as to how they could better support her. You think?
(Heck, I'd like a deck of those myself, and I haven't lost my spouse.)
Be honest, y'all. What are your thoughts on these ideas?