A year ago today, Larry and I sat in an examination room at Princess Margaret Hospital, awaiting the oncologist who had been treating him for the past year.
He had survived liver cancer, a transplant, the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a Whipple procedure (a surgery where part of the liver, stomach, pancreas and intestine is removed) and several months of chemotherapy.
In April, he had received the news: tumour free. We were back after his monthly follow up CT scan to get the results.
When the oncologist walks into the examination room in tears, one suspects things are not good. “We gave it our best shot…” was how he began, his voice trailing off.
Larry asked if he’d start chemotherapy or radiation, the oncologist said that any treatments would kill him just as quickly as the cancer inside him was. Six to twelve months was the time line given to us.
We left the office shell-shocked, silent, in tears. We made it to the elevators where I vomited into a garbage can. Which is a feat unto itself as I don’t have the physiology to puke.
We sat, trying to figure out our next steps. I did what any confused and frightened kid would do and called my Mom. Somehow in between my hysterics I was able to pass on the news as Larry sat in stony silence.
Somehow we made it home that afternoon. We sat in silence on the go train, just holding hands and my head on his shoulder. I called in sick the next day, trying to assess what to do next.
We contacted our family doctor and made an appointment to discuss the next steps and palliative care. Thus began our final weeks together.