My Cancer Angels

They say the number one factor in a successful cancer battle is having a strong support system. My own cancer treatment experience was absolutely horrible, but thank God I had the support I needed to survive it. This is my thank you to the angels who helped me through my ordeal.

My cancer archangel is my life partner, Misha. He was there for me, “All the time, all the way.” Without hesitation or complaint, he did everything he could think of and anything I asked, from day one through today. He drove me back and forth to every single one of my doctor visits and daily radiation treatments. He sat patiently with me throughout each arduous chemotherapy infusion and hydration session, and all of the interminable waits for doctors to arrive at my so-called appointments. (The doctors were often an hour late or worse.) At home he took over all the household chores, including cleaning the cat boxes. He took care of his own meals, and fed me whatever I thought I could get down, whenever I wanted it. Never, ever once in the two horrible months did he have a cross word for me or express any feelings of impatience or injustice. You know, people say I confronted my trial bravely, but I don't see where bravery had anything to do with it. I had no choices, other than choosing to attempt to survive. But Misha could have walked out at any time, Newt Gingrich style, saying, “This isn't what I signed up for.” Heck, we've only known each other for a year, and just started moving in together when the disease struck. He could have checked out emotionally, saying, “I'm sorry, but this is your problem and I just can't deal with it.” But he didn't; I don't believe the possibility ever entered his mind. He's the brave one, if you ask me. He's my hero.

My sister Mary was the angel I could call any time I needed empathy, because she recently survived uterine cancer herself. Mary wept when I first told her of my problem, me laughing lightly about my “small spot of throat cancer” that I thought a quick surgery would fix right up. She knew better. I immediately gained the top spot on her worry list, and worrying is her full-time job so you know she spent some serious energy on me. She offered to fly down from Oregon and be with me any time I wanted, and I took her up on that offer for my last week of treatments. It was wonderful to have her here and bucked up my and Misha's spirits immeasurably. Mary had been with me 100 percent on my sex change seven years ago, and now through this as well. What an angel!

We lost my Mom to colon cancer a year and a half ago, and my dad's prostate is on the cancer watch-list, but he was there emotionally for me as well. I was so glad that our rift over my sex change healed some years back, because having my dad in my corner was a great boost in facing this new challenge.

All of my friends offered to help in any way they could as soon as I told them about my cancer. The friend I turned to first was Dennis, my pal since the beginning of the century, and my roommate for a few months a while back when he was hunting for his house in the Santa Cruz mountains. Dennis ran relief for Misha once a week, showing up every Wednesday to take me to the clinic and fix us all dinner. He gladly would have done more, but that was exactly what we needed. My angel!

I can't forget my dear friend Lea, either, who deluged me with flowers, get-well cards, and visits throughout my treatment.

Everyone, of course, wanted to stay constantly informed of how I was doing. I guess in the old days we would have had to set up a phone tree to disseminate information, but e-mail is the ideal solution for this task these days. My address list grew to 42 names as more and more people learned of my condition, and I sent out updates whenever anything new developed, or just to say I'm still here if a week went by with nothing new. I'm glad people were sensitive enough to use the e-mail instead of phoning, because I was rarely feeling well enough to speak on the phone, and often my voice wasn't even up to it. I found it gratifying to get a dozen or so encouraging replies to each of my updates; every “Hang in there,” “I'm praying for you,” and “We're sending you reiki” was much appreciated—and NOT getting 42 replies to wade through was appreciated as well! I was also glad that nobody seemed upset when I didn't send back many personal replies, even when asked direct questions, because my angels appreciated what it means to be as ill as I was.

Thank you, all of my angels, for your sympathy and encouragement. There is a beautiful, cancer-free spot in heaven waiting for you all!

Lannie Rose
September 8, 2008