Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Grieving Like It’s Groundhog Day

Nope.  It still hurts this morning.

Yesterday, I discovered that another fellow long term Hodgkin’s survivor passed away.  She is not the first.  I know she will not be the last.  It happens several times a year, too many in fact.

Like others that I have personally known, I will write a special tribute for her.  But I do not want to tarnish the honor of her memory with the feelings that I have this morning.  I am not sure why I am feeling like I do this morning.  Like in the movie “Groundhog Day,” I have seen this day many times.  And no matter how many times you relive the day, the outcome does not change.  The friend is still gone, and you are still left feeling, why?

No, this morning my feelings are more complicated.

My friend did not pass away recently.  And that is a new category of frustration for me, why that happened.  It was the beginning of 2020, actually do not need to do any more of an intro as the number of the year tells where this is going to go, and nothing out of the unusual, I was having a conversation with this fellow survivor, as I have many others.

While there are a multitude of issues my fellow long term survivors deal with, many of the same, are experienced by a lot of us.  And this particular conversation that I was having, was something that I had personally experienced.  One of our common issues was multiple bouts of pneumonia, complicated by our lung issues from treatments for our cancer.  It was not the “standard” pneumonia, but one called “aspiration” (I will do a post on this in the near future, I promise, I was going to get to it eventually).

I shared my experiences and possible suggestions for her to inquire with her doctors to help assess her condition better, and possibly mitigate the recurrences of these pneumonias.  It was a normal exchange like with my other survivors.

There was supposed to be a “gathering” of us long term survivors later in the year, and we were both looking forward to meeting each other officially, along with the other 98 attendees, all of us long term survivors of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Then, a month later, Covid hit.  And nearly everyone, long term survivor or not, got distracted.  We got distracted with the virus, the politics around the virus, the impact of the virus on our personal lives.  Sure, we kept on going with our day to day, but things fell by the wayside.

March 17th, 2020, the last date I recall before officially deciding, needed to make Covid preparations given my vulnerabilities.  March 15th, my friend was still making posts on Facebook.  But there was nothing after that.  She passed away on the 17th.

We both belonged to various social pages for our long term survivor issues.  But her absence had gone unnoticed.  Besides Covid occupying our minds, it was not unusual for many members to not be as involved on our chats, when we were not dealing with a pressing issue.

But if one of us was dealing with a current crisis, you can bet, myself and others would be giving a stern lecture, the importance of a survivor’s mentality, to know that a fellow survivor is doing well following an illness or procedure and to take whatever steps necessary to make that happen.  Many have been on that receiving end from me.

As long term cancer survivors, we know our frailties and vulnerabilities.  We know the extra precautions that need to be taken.  We have faith in our doctors to get the job done.  Unfortunately, it is the recovery and follow-up care/concern that lacks, when opportunity has the chance to go wrong.  And I have said goodbye to too many at this stage.

I am frustrated with myself, that during the Covid crisis, I have obviously not been paying the usual attention to my world of survivorship.  Things got lost.  I have no idea what happened with my friend and fellow survivor.  By all accounts, it looks like it was sudden whatever it was.

But she was five years younger than me.  Like me, she had two young children that she cared for.  And like me, she loved life, in spite of the various health issues we had in common, she found a way to deal with them.  That hits home with me.

And now she is gone.

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