Well, folks, it's official: I'm keeping up with my dear loved one by being this year's cancer treatment person at Heartland Cancer Center, a place that has been helping her since Jan. 10, 2017.
Ironically, we started our married life almost 62 years ago in a furnished, one bedroom apartment at the exact location of the cancer center's parking lot. (Our landlord was somewhat of a scamp: He had a button located in the bedroom and told Orvileta to just push it if she had any trouble with me!)
Fortunately, her tumor has been eradicated over the past year. Getting a colonoscopy was crucial in catching her problem at a critical time. So all of you readers should get one of those without fail if you haven't done so already.
My battle with Big C started in Wichita on April 13, when my doctor unexpectedly discovered and removed a 1.4-pound malignant tumor from the calf of my right leg. Luckily, tests indicate this "puppy" hasn't spread, so I have proceeded with a course of liquid chemo drips, plus pills.
The first week of "drip chemo" went relatively well. Spent two hours Monday, three hours Tuesday and six hours Wednesday with liquid directly in my "port" on the starboard side. Even had a tail light installed — on my tummy — that blinked green for 27 hours before injecting more med, then shutting itself off automatically. Absolutely fascinating, and no problem!
I listened to a great classical album our daughter, Sabrina, installed on my Tablet two years ago, containing 101 different pieces, some of which I had played over the years. All 11 hours allowed me to hear almost all, and that was my sole focus and concentration. Got my pill ration for rest of week down by Monday evening.
My second session "on the drip" was also again spent listening to that great 101-piece album. I won't have another go-round of the liquid, six-hours stuff until next week, including pills for five days. Then subsequent "drip days" each three weeks up into late August. During these sessions, the nursing staff monitors me constantly, and I do blood work each weekend to see that all is well. So far, so good. Luckily, I haven't been sick, but the falling hair phase has arrived with a vengeance. But you know: hair today; gone tomorrow! I'm saving myself 20 bucks by not getting a haircut. And I will ask my barber friend to sweep up the leavings so I can use some Elmer's Glue and Duct tape to make myself a wig. Am trying to decide on a style — perhaps colonial (Jeffersonian) or a double-decker do! I will entertain any suggestions, since I fear the consequences of my loved ones and friends seeing my round head and big ears without hair in between!
Since my hair is departing the realm so fast, I decided 10 days ago to have Brittney Hunsberger, my wife's hair stylist, turn my remaining hair red. This is in honor of my Mom, my dear Aunt Mary I, a cousin, Ralph West, and Nancy Raleigh, my nephew, Steve Lee's wife, who is helping take care of my Sis, Janice Lee: all red heads! Actually, I've wanted to be a red head since I was a kid. What better time than now?
Got out last Tuesday for merchants league golf. The new hair "do" went over OK without too much teasing. The whole deal is to have as much fun while I am battling the Big C, so I'm OK with any comments you may have about that or any other topic you may wish to visit about. Seeing old friends, and making new ones, is something I relish. Many times, it's been quite awhile since I've seen some of the folks, especially at the grocery store. Please say hello if you have the time!
Several folks have said they read my column and have asked me when I will be writing again. Well, there are lots of column ideas standing in line to be spread upon the written page. Finding time to get them all down and to the Opinion page is a horse of a different color, considering what all we have going on.
But, please be patient with me! And, as always, you can agree, disagree, quit reading, or just go to the comics page.
Hope you are are having a good spring and are looking forward to a great summer! Talk with you later.
Duane West has lived in Garden City since 1940 and is a former mayor.