Loss and Losing

It’s taken me awhile, to work myself around to writing and sharing this post.

(For those tuned in to the series), ‘In the last post, Mary reported that her most recent CT scans showed the remaining tumours were stable, and that she was waiting and wondering about whether there were other treatment options such as targeted radiation or laser knife surgery, which could be deployed to remove these remaining mets and extend survivorship’.

Additionally, the great fantasy I had was that I would a) have targeted radiation; b) stop taking Sutent following that; c) get my life back; d) get my job back; [and e) thereby ‘save the world’ before the cancer returned. ]

On Easter Monday, my oncologist took my images and case to something called the ‘Tumour Board Meeting’; at which a cadre of urologists and radiologists apparently discuss many patients’ cases and help make decisions about whether/what next treatment is in order.  I’d been leaving messages the week prior, misapprehending that my case would come up the previous Monday.  I called again post-Easter Wednesday; and heard back from my oncologist the same afternoon.

While I had a giant typewritten list of questions for her, our conversation was brief.  Everyone at the ‘Tumour Board Meeting’ was very encouraged by how effective Sutent had been.  No one was interested in doing any further/other treatment at this point.  They would revisit this when the tumours spread or grew.  She could call the Sunnybrook radiologist I’d met for a phone consult to ‘make sure we’ve crossed all the T’s’.  But that was the decision.

I briefly felt very disappointed, and a bit irked about not having my many questions asked, or feeling like I had any input into ‘the decision’. 

However, Wednesday afternoon I then received an email and voicemail from my Aunt, advising that my Uncle John (Dad’s brother) had gone home from a brief visit to Emergency, to die. 

I was grateful for the message, and then extremely grateful for the long afternoon visit I had with John, who was lucid but uncomfortable.  I brought photos of family, old and new; photos of Luci Court, where John had grown up and lived most of his life, and where I stayed with him and my grandparents when figure skating; and two sprigs of lilacs, a favourite of his from the Luci Ct garden.  We talked about old times, family, my son, his sudden incapacity, my illness, literature, history, gardening, the North, and ourselves. At the end of the afternoon my brother joined us.  I told John I loved him, and would see him the following day.

That evening, his condition deteriorated.  A palliative nurse brought pain medication; when that didn’t work, he was admitted to Hospital to receive morphine via IV.  My cousin promised to call if anything changed.  When he called at 2 a.m., Liam and I went down to the General to spend time with John.   He was now in a fog.  My aunt, uncle and cousin were with him in shifts and were obviously exhausted and very very sad.  John’s condition stayed the same until 5, when Liam and I came home to take a rest and look after things at home.  We went back over Thursday and were at the Hospital again for much of the day; coming home so that Liam could sleep before a Friday final exam and so that I could prepare and do a radio program from 7-8:30.  At 6 p.m. we received the news; John had died.

Since then, we’ve been spending time over at John’s to help go through and pack up his effects.  We’ve all in various ways been trying to look after and out for one another and ourselves.  Yesterday Liam and I went to see our new family doctor; when I told her I was disappointed and a bit down from the news of my oncologist, Liam reminded me ‘well, there’ve been a lot of other things, too’. 

I feel very very grateful to have known and loved my Uncle while he was here.  I feel very sad that he is gone.  I guess I’ll deal with the other things with my oncologist tomorrow….though they don’t seem all as important now.

 

here is the lovely obituary my Aunt ran today in the Citizen:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?n=john-mackinnon&pid=170847544 

MacKINNON, John
John MacKinnon, 81 years old, passed away on April 24, 2014 in the Ottawa General Hospital after a brief but severe illness. Born in Fort William, Ontario, John was predeceased by his father Edmund MacKinnon and mother Mil (née Lythgoe); his sister Mary; and brothers Don, Robert and his wife Lorraine (née Lynch) and Ed and his wife Cathy (née Oughton). He is survived by brother Ernie of Waterloo, Ontario; sister Beth and husband Tom Charlton of Ottawa; and sister-in-law Audrey (née Butt) in BC. Numerous nieces and nephews also survive. John moved to Ottawa from BC after his mother’s death ten years ago to be close to his family in Eastern and Southern Ontario. He had been a high school teacher in Northwestern Ontario, and later taught English as a Second Language to new Canadians in Thunder Bay. He had the utmost respect for his students and they loved him in return. John was also an author (Gorgeous Tragedy: Volumes 1 and 2 was his life’s work). He was known for his wit, his kindness, his tuna surprise, his liberal party membership and his generous gratuities. Huge thanks to the staff at Ottawa General Emergency, especially Curtis Wright, Cathy Bickerton, Clinical Manager of the Emergency Department, and Lucy from Bayshore Health Care, as well as numerous others who assisted us in a very sad and stressful time and ensured he left this world with dignity. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?n=john-mackinnon&pid=170847544#sthash.LXX27OL2.dpuf
MacKINNON, John
John MacKinnon, 81 years old, passed away on April 24, 2014 in the Ottawa General Hospital after a brief but severe illness. Born in Fort William, Ontario, John was predeceased by his father Edmund MacKinnon and mother Mil (née Lythgoe); his sister Mary; and brothers Don, Robert and his wife Lorraine (née Lynch) and Ed and his wife Cathy (née Oughton). He is survived by brother Ernie of Waterloo, Ontario; sister Beth and husband Tom Charlton of Ottawa; and sister-in-law Audrey (née Butt) in BC. Numerous nieces and nephews also survive. John moved to Ottawa from BC after his mother’s death ten years ago to be close to his family in Eastern and Southern Ontario. He had been a high school teacher in Northwestern Ontario, and later taught English as a Second Language to new Canadians in Thunder Bay. He had the utmost respect for his students and they loved him in return. John was also an author (Gorgeous Tragedy: Volumes 1 and 2 was his life’s work). He was known for his wit, his kindness, his tuna surprise, his liberal party membership and his generous gratuities. Huge thanks to the staff at Ottawa General Emergency, especially Curtis Wright, Cathy Bickerton, Clinical Manager of the Emergency Department, and Lucy from Bayshore Health Care, as well as numerous others who assisted us in a very sad and stressful time and ensured he left this world with dignity. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?n=john-mackinnon&pid=170847544#sthash.LXX27OL2.dpuf
MacKINNON, John
John MacKinnon, 81 years old, passed away on April 24, 2014 in the Ottawa General Hospital after a brief but severe illness. Born in Fort William, Ontario, John was predeceased by his father Edmund MacKinnon and mother Mil (née Lythgoe); his sister Mary; and brothers Don, Robert and his wife Lorraine (née Lynch) and Ed and his wife Cathy (née Oughton). He is survived by brother Ernie of Waterloo, Ontario; sister Beth and husband Tom Charlton of Ottawa; and sister-in-law Audrey (née Butt) in BC. Numerous nieces and nephews also survive. John moved to Ottawa from BC after his mother’s death ten years ago to be close to his family in Eastern and Southern Ontario. He had been a high school teacher in Northwestern Ontario, and later taught English as a Second Language to new Canadians in Thunder Bay. He had the utmost respect for his students and they loved him in return. John was also an author (Gorgeous Tragedy: Volumes 1 and 2 was his life’s work). He was known for his wit, his kindness, his tuna surprise, his liberal party membership and his generous gratuities. Huge thanks to the staff at Ottawa General Emergency, especially Curtis Wright, Cathy Bickerton, Clinical Manager of the Emergency Department, and Lucy from Bayshore Health Care, as well as numerous others who assisted us in a very sad and stressful time and ensured he left this world with dignity. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?n=john-mackinnon&pid=170847544#sthash.LXX27OL2.dpuf
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