Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Grief is an intensely personal journey. No two people cope the same way. However, I think everyone that grieves searches for something to make themselves feel better. And in the early months, it can pretty disappointing when nothing really makes you feel any better. I can see how people might figure- what's the use? So I take a different approach. Instead of searching for the elusive "feel-good" moment, I reason with myself that trying various activities won't actually make me feel worse. So if something isn't going to make me feel worse, I figure it's worth a shot.

So I've been at the gym pretty regularly. And even though I want to be lazy, I know that moving around for an hour or two won't ever make me feel worse. Well, that was until yesterday when, within 30 seconds of working out with my trainer, I came down too hard on a jump and tweaked something in my back. It's nothing serious, but how annoying! The worst part is that is made me short of breath as inhaling makes it hard to breathe. So all day yesterday I did nothing but pop advil and watch tv. I was so irritated that on a day when I had a bunch of things planned that wouldn't make me feel worse (gym, massage, laundry), the fates had a different plan. I just had to sit there and do nothing.

I don't really have that much to complain about in terms of an injury. I was up and monving gingerly today, though I won't be lifting weights this week. But as I sat there yesterday, I found myself thinking of all the days I would call Dan from work. He'd be on the couch watching TV, feeling lousy. And wishing he could just get up and do regular things. It was another "a-ha" moment. I wonder how many times Dan did things just because they wouldn't make him feel any worse. Everything was always worth a shot. For him, those long days weren't a gift. Just like for me, time isn't always a gift. It just needs to pass.


crooks said...
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Diane said...

Hi Meg,

Sit there and pop advil ... the miracle drug. I can identify. Scott wouldn't take the Nickster out for a walk tonight. He was so tired, so I took him out. He saw a cat, and that was it. Nick doesn't like cats. Let's just say that our 80 lb. dog took me for a ride.

We hope that you feel better soon. Your posts give me so much inspiration. We are getting ready to get a new MCC spot checked out after a six month remission. FYI - Scott is following your advice. He wants to have radiation to his neck. I left it up to him, but I think he has had some great guidance from up above. Dan .. is that you?

Let's get together for that pizza soon. Scott's hair is growing back, and he is so excited. He would love to show it off.

Love and strength to you Meg,

Anonymous said...

I had 3 more skin cancers removed from my body today - 2 on my forehead and a big one on my upper back. Wish that Dan's cancer could have been removed so easily. I took a copy of his obituary into the Dr's ofc cause in the past 2 years I have taken newspaper and magazine articles about Danny. Talking about his death made me feel so sad. It's a gorgeous sunny day here today and I just want to crawl in a cave and not do anything. Meg, I bet you have days like that. Love, Cicily

Michael Bergin said...

Hello Meg -

I do not have anything profound to add but wanted to let you know that I continue to read the blog. I think of you and Dan daily as I still proudly wear my WWW bracelet.

I am coaching Nathan's baseball team and it makes me think of Dan as we would talk strategy last year.


Anonymous said...

I'm still reading too Meg. It was good to see you on Friday, even though it was only for a few minutes. Here's to things that don't make you feel worse; I love that.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dearest Dan. To say that another can understand exactly how you feel would be futile in easing your pain. To love a person so much that the loss is unspeakable is a testament to what means to be soul mates. Your and Dan’s relationship is much like my husband’s and mine. If you would indulge me and in an attempt to help you know that, you are truly in my thoughts and prayers, I convey our story.

I have always known that God existed, but much like most of the world, I had forgotten that he pretty much rules everything. When we mere mortals forget that, sometimes God hands you messages that you may not understand. Sometimes the messages don’t even make sense. My message came in the form of a lumpy mattress. Yes, that’s right, a King-sized Simmons Beautyrest mattress. Don’t get me wrong, there were commercial endorsements or celebrity voices extolling the virtues of innerspring excellence, pillow top comfort or support. The Lord did not send down cute wooly farm animals jumping and springing in midair or bleating outside my window. Nevertheless, . . . a message.

A little background first……

I grew up in as an Air Force “brat,” then married (and divorced) an abusive member of the military. In 1991, I was moved from Iceland back to San Antonio, Texas with my son and daughter, and began work with the National Park Service. I was newly divorced, scared, broke (both emotionally and financially), and profoundly worn.

In 1993, and with the persistent urging of my father, I began dating a co-worker named Steve. This is where the “lumpy mattress” comes in. OK, I know what you’re thinking!!! That’s not it!!

Steve handed me the cheesiest pickup line ever, when he asked, “Wanna go shopping with me to help pick out a new mattress?” Since we had only been dating for a couple of months, you can imagine the response.

After explaining that it was not a line and he really needed a new mattress, we began to discuss his situation. He told me that he was having a tough time getting to sleep and no matter where he moved on my bed; there was a lump. I suggested that maybe it wasn’t the mattress and asked if he felt OK? He said he had felt a knot in my abdomen, sweated at night and at times, it was tough getting to sleep. He continued that he had high blood pressure and surmised that a change in medication might be needed. (I had secretly hope that it was my exciting personality keeping him awake; After all, we HAD only been dating for two months.)

He had never made it a point of visiting doctors, but made an appointment for the next week. They sent him for an immediate CATScan, and a week later in September 1993, his life changed forever. I was at work when I got the call, it was Steve. He said the CATScan results showed an 8cm mass in his abdomen. A biopsy was scheduled for the next week, which brought those three words, “You have cancer.” It was Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. From that point on, oncologist, chemotherapy, lab work was the normal structure in our life. Steve was told that he may only a couple of years to live, but they would begin CHOP and COP and “see what happens.”

From 1993-95, Steve and my relationship grew as I accompanied him to each appointment, and then immediately go and eat, because we knew that within 12 hours Steve would be throwing whatever he ate back up. The vomiting stopped about 2 days before his next chemo treatment. One afternoon in 1995, his oncologist told me that I was in remission. That was one of the best days of our lives. He had beat cancer!!! Steve was ready to move on with our life. In February 1996, we were married and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Life was great until 1998, when at his annual visit, his oncologist casually announce “the cancer is back.”

We couldn’t believe it. Our biggest issue that day had been making a decision on which restaurant we would visit after the appointment. I don’t remember if we ate. I don’t remember anything other than crying and saying, “We beat it once, we can do it again.”

I say, “We” because when you’re in the fight against cancer, you’re not in it alone. Your family and friends are right there with you, every step of the way. To hold your hand as you cry and your head as you vomit. With every painful stick from needles and as those IV drugs poison the cancer and your body, they are there. Cancer patients are never in this fight alone. I got involved with an advocacy group and sat up at nightly researching recurrent Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Research led to Dr. Richard Armitage at Lied Transplant Center, University of Nebraska who agreed to test Steve for a stem cell transplant. We were extremely fortunate that in August 2000, Steve underwent an autologous stem cell transplant.

In reading your description of Dan, he reminds me so much of Steve. Throughout this whole process, his concern was for me and those around him. He is my rock, my life and most importantly, my amazing best friend. I could not imagine life without him by my side. Steve tells people that I saved him, although in reality, he really saved me. At times, we “fuss and fight,” but, we stand strong and weather storms. In 2005, I lost my lifelong hero, my father to lung cancer. With only 4 days between diagnosis and death, we were truly blessed to have him in our lives and to be my father for over 50 years. He and my mother celebrated their 54 wedding anniversary the August before he passed.

Steve is now 9 years cancer-free. The road has been challenging, frightening, fun, profound, enlightening, and emotional and so many words that you and Dan shared. In 2001, Steve changed careers and now works as a Geographic Information System Specialist for a federal wildland fire program.

In 2004, I went back to college and completed my Associates in Health Administration and Bachelors in Psychology to work in the field of cancer advocacy.

This February, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary; we have two great kids and a beautiful 9 years old granddaughter. This journey has been tough and at times, we wondered if we would get through it, but we did with the help of family, friends, many talented and profession doctors, nurses and advocates like Dan (and you) who provide caregivers courage, determination, perspective, and feeling through the cancer labyrinth. Thank you so very much for sharing your story. You must be proud of this remarkable man, hero, soul mate, and best friend Dan. I am sure that he is equally honored by your love and life with you. Although, you do not know me, if there ever comes a time that you need to talk, please do not hesitate to contact me through my Facebook page. God bless you in your time of loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Cheryl Fisher