Thursday, February 7, 2013

My sweet brother Chris

With all the hustle and bustle of moving into our new home, I feel I've neglected my online friends at Two Peas, my journal, and my blog. The last couple of weeks have been somewhat heart wrenching as I found out my dear brother Chris has stage IV melanoma. About a year and half ago, he had a mass removed from his back that was melanoma. Recently his back has been giving him excruciating pain. After some tests and scans, it was discovered he had holes in the bone of his spine and some of the nerves were exposed causing the pain. So, the last two weeks he's had numerous scans and tests. They found tumors on his liver, lungs and bones. They concluded that it started with the melanoma, thus the diagnosis.
This past Monday was his first visit with the oncologist and was told he has months to live. He was actually pretty relieved to hear he had months instead of weeks, since his brother-in-law recently passed away from cancer after just 3 short weeks of being told.

After all the testing and while waiting for the prognosis, he wrote a beautiful letter to all his friends (and he sure has a treasure trove of them) that I'd like to share here.

Hi all, well I've been sitting here for over an hour now trying to go about how to pass on some info I have (some have heard and some haven't). It's no easy task and not one that I'm sure I'm so proper in doing? I've left the addresses unhidden in case any of you would take mind taking a quick scan through and see if I've forgotten anyone. I have oodles of friends like the rest of you and some I've lost addresses for over the years (email and/or snail mail).
I'll try and do this without being too philosophical, but in cases like this I'm not sure what's quite proper and what isn't? The bottom line is I've developed cancer and it's quite the nasty kind - I'll go into that a little more in a minute. The main reason I'm writing and being quite open about it is I have a few very close friends that have passed recently. I didn't hear about it until after they'd gone? All I know is I remember how mad I was (at first) and then it developed into sadness "how could they have been this sick and not have told me?" Like I said, we all handle things differently and those of you that know me quite well know that my life's an open book. A VERY open book. I talk too much and always say a little more that should probably have been left unsaid - heehee. Oh well, that's just me. But since I've come down with this nasty thing I've decided to be open about it and get on with it. I'm hoping you'll all be glad I did and not let you in the dark like some of my recently passed friends have.
Ok, now that that's out of the way (and I'll try and not be too wordy as you know I can be): I just got out of the hospital yesterday. We read the diagnosis on the way home and it said I've got Metastatic Melanoma Cancer.
As you know, I've been riddled with skin cancers for years now, ever since my transplant. One nagging little bugger was a melanoma about a year and a half ago. Funny enough it was the littlest one that I've had to deal with. As it turns out this one spread even after having taking a huge chunk out of my shoulder back then. After reading more about Metastases it explains that it's cancer that is borne from a previous one, in this case the melanoma. When I checked into the hospital this past week they did a scan ( a real quick one) and said they saw holes, or lesions in the bones in my spine. Immediately they started questioning the melanoma I had over a year ago and the thought that perhaps it had spread? Needing more info they did some more intensive scans and found that I had spots - or tumors as they referred to them, by then, in my liver and lungs.
I'm experiencing excruciating pain in particular places - such is one that they asked me about yesterday which is in my upper back near the spine. They asked if it was bothering me much and I told them "hell yes". They said they saw on one of the scans that there's a tumor there which is trying to attach itself to my spine. They say with radiation they can take care of these types to ease the pain in those locations. They're going to address different ones with me on Monday when I meet with the Oncologist. They're saying they can treat others with Chemo. I'm not up to par on all this terminology so I'm sure I'll learn a whole lot more in the coming weeks. If you're interested I'll pass on more when I hear. For now, I just wanted to touch base and get it out there that I won't be with you all for the long haul. I don't have a clue as to how long I have, but reading up on Metastases it isn't real long and I think I'd be real lucky if I get to see the Saints play another regular season game (that's just me guessing with the info I've been furnished). I'm sure the Oncologist will provide me with more details next week.
Like I said, I don't believe there's any right way or wrong way to go about something like this, but I'm choosing to relate it this way for reasons I stated earlier.
Before going, let me say that I'm now experiencing (what I'm going to call "the creepies" from now on) for lack of a better phrase. To me those are little thoughts that enter my mind when it comes to things like a new show is going to start, or they're developing a new subdivision or shopping court etc. Things that they furnish dates on that I get an inkling I won't be here for; or anything that gets the thoughts going down that depressing road. I started to get a feel for that when I was told I had less than a year to live because of my failing liver. I didn't have to delve into that further when I found I had a chance to live much much longer. I imagine I'll be experiencing that a lot more now so I'm going to do my best to keep the creepies at bay and try my best to focus on the good things I've experienced. I'm sure they'll slip in from time to time, but with some practice perhaps I'll get a handle on it and keep these little buggers out of my thoughts.
Some of you will be quite shocked and some already know about this over the past weeks correspondences. As I said earlier, I left the addresses for all to see just in case you see someone I've left out or forgotten. I really hope you don't mind me relating all this - it's the best way "I know" how to cope with this and I hope you don't deem me a particular type for airing my circumstances this way.
In regards to replying (and excuse me if you've heard this already): there is no right way to respond to something like this; I'm well aware of that. It's awkward for all concerned, even me. I've always found it very unsettling to hear news like this from someone - I mean, what do you say? "oh, hope you feel better" or "I'm so sorry to hear about this - well you take care" haha, yeah right, I mean what really is appropriate for something like this? So - just a heads- up, no reply at all is fine, besides, I'd be inundated with emails that I feel obligated to reply with another awkward retort. So, don't worry, we're all on the same page in that regard! It's been a friggin blast just getting to know you, and share the ride on this orb hurtling through space- it's all good!
…and by the way, if you were one of the addressees in the To: column it's because you're very dear to my heart and I'd want you to be as open with me as I'm being with you.
Here's to many more months of good times and reflections.
Love you guys,

Here is a picture of him today with his daughter Marnie, at the facility where he'll be getting his radiation treatment.

I'm doing well. Every once in a while a childhood memory creeps up on me and for now I'm pushing them aside. Maybe I'm a little afraid to break down and not be able to get back up to carry on with the every day life. I'm not ready for that yet. 


  1. Oh Val so sorry to hear about your brother. You are so busy right now with the move and I know this heartbreaking news is not what you expected to hear. ((((HUGS)))) and prayers sent for both you, him and your family. Keep us up to date when you can!

  2. Val-we have been missing you over at the Pokey Peas. Now I see why. You rightly have other important things n you're mind. We'll be thinking of you & praying for comfort to you and your family.

  3. Val, my heart is aching for you and my eyes are tearing for you. I am so sorry that you and Chris are dealing with this scary situation. Know that you are in my prayers and that I'm sending you virtual hugs. What a beautiful letter he has written. He must be a wonderful friend and brother. We miss you at Pokey Peas, but we understand and will welcome you back when you feel that you can return. Hugs, hugs hugs!! Nylene

  4. Val, you know your in my prayers and your brother and his whole family as well. I wish I could give you a big hug! I'm sorry for being such a crappy friend but even though I haven't called are always in my thoughts..heart...and prayers. Sending you bushels and baskets and barrells of love!