Tag Archives: dying of cancer

Only Child’s close friend dies of cancer

Tanya's view of Only Child's backyard garden

Tanya’s view of Only Child’s backyard garden

My friend, Tanya, from next door died of cancer last week. And I am heartbroken. But not as much as her husband and 12-year-old son.

Tanya was only 51. I have talked about her in previous posts including mentioning the cancer. It was a very aggressive cancer and the medical profession didn’t catch it soon enough. Not that doing so would have stopped it. (More on that aspect below). It got so bad she couldn’t swallow or talk and the chemo had to be stopped because it was too harsh and not doing anything. I last talked to her on the phone New Year’s Day when I wished her a good 2016. If only wishes were truth and what would actually happen. That was the first day she had chemo. I told her to call me if she wanted to, but the cancer got worse.

No, I didn’t visit her in Princess Margaret Hospital, but I did call the hospital about her – they weren’t really very forthcoming. But I did keep checking in with her husband and son. Also, from the info on the hospital’s website, I gathered they might not even have let me see her because. I have recurring sinusitis and cancer patients are so susceptible to infections.

The last time I saw Tanya was Christmas Eve Day when I brought over my Christmas presents for her, her husband and her son. She phoned me Christmas Day to thank me (and I thanked her for her gifts). My son, who was here with his girlfriend for Christmas, also talked to Tanya on the phone.

During December I was one of the friends who shopped at The Big Carrot Health food store for Tanya’s food for her stringent diet – all organic. At that time she was still up, able to prepare her food, talk, watch TV and read. But she moved around connected to a portable oxygen tent for her breathing. She had a longtime history of asthma. And there is where the medical profession probably messed up, mistaking the lung problems as “just asthma.” I gathered she wasn’t diagnosed until late fall last year.

I had known  Tanya for just over 16 years when she and her husband moved in next door. We would help each other – yes, the usual borrowing the sugar (although in her case it was ketchup and other foods, even onions.) Often she would pick up a few groceries at the store for me and not even want the money for it. She also drove me the few blocks to Home Depot in May so I could pick up and get home, the bags of topsoil, manure and cedar bark for my garden. I gave her fresh black raspberries, tomatoes and rhubarb from my garden for the three of them.

Tanya loved to sit out in her backyard and look at my garden. She said it was beautiful and peaceful. As I don’t have a photo of her, I am posting a photo of part of my backyard garden in her memory.

Alex, her husband was very helpful with house problems. Eleven years ago when I had the big flood in the basement, he came over with a huge shop-n-vac from his work and removed the four or five inches of water from the basement. Last summer, he removed the big old chesterfield from my living room and placed it at the end of my driveway for city pickup. He did this himself.

When I went on holidays, Tanya and Alex looked after my property, bringing in the mail, watering the garden if necessary and watering my too many plants inside, checking on the house to make sure all was okay. When they went away, I did the same, including looking after their cat, Marmalade.

Marmalade died late last August. A harbinger of things to come?

Tanya is gone and I miss her.

And I am becoming a big believer that bad luck plays a big role in who gets cancer – but also in who survives it. I just look around and see what is happening, not just personally, but from news stories, statistics and research. In a previous post I said that four of my friends had been diagnosed with cancer. Well, one of them went for further testing and no cancer.

Then, there are people like Tanya.

Last year John Hopkins medical centre did a study on the luck factor – and the rating for that factor was as high as 65%. They concluded that the main causes of cancer are three – environment, genetic and luck. I have discussed this with friends and some of them pooh-pooh the luck factor.

I say – look around you. Look at who gets cancer, when it is diagnosed, the treatment and if it helps or not. The results are all over the map.

Which brings me to my my conclusion – for now. Too many people of all ages are getting cancer and too many of them are dying from it.

And yes, I know. I have an even more personal reason for being concerned. My late father died of brain cancer (which started out as lung cancer). That was back in 1965. He was 66 when he died.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under cancer, Cancer Cures and Research, Cancer Treatment, Dad, Friends, Health

Only Child tackles starting the memoir

Only Child at 13 and Dad on veranda of house where she grew up

When I first started writing my memoir I had a very different take on what I wanted to include. I wanted it to be more family history – mainly the dead relatives and my relationship with them – when they were alive. I’m not that weird. Some family flak, as well as some constructive criticism from another writer, steered me in another direction. My memoir is now my story of growing up a shy only child of elderly parents in the 1950s and 1960s when Dad is dying of cancer and the environment is old-school Catholic.

When you find your memoir muse, writing the actual memoir can seem daunting. Where do you start? Where do you go?

In my last post https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/only-child-on-finding-your-memoir-muse-2/ I talked about using the kaleidoscope method to narrow down what the heck you want to write about. When you decide if it is overcoming your drug addiction, your crazy childhood or your travels through the Yukon, that’s the branch of your kaleidoscope you use to create an outline.

But before you do that, you want to write down your memoir’s focus or mission statement. As I did above, try to get it down to one sentence, two sentences maximum. This will help you create your outline.

“Create” and “Outline” seem worlds apart. But if you just write “from the seat of your pants” your memoir will be all over the place. Just remember that whatever you put in this outline may not be what you end up with. Keep an open mind for change because as you write your memoir, things will change – perhaps your perspective, perhaps due to family flak, perhaps boredom on your part. Consider your outline a “work-in-progress.”

Then…

  • Do it as a chapter-by-chapter setup or as subject matter you wish to cover. This is just to get you started – to move you from mission statement to content.
  • Under each “subject” listed, write a few sentences or list (whichever works best for you) what you could cover there.
  • If you need to dig further for information, make a note in brackets (further info needed).

That’s it in a nutshell. And, once you write your beginning chapter, you don’t need to write the chapters in the order listed. Perhaps you are missing some research for Chapter Two or the content of Chapter Five is calling your muse.  Follow it. That’s being creative. Remember, you still have your outline to steer you in…later.

Happy memoir writing.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, cancer, Catholicism in the 1950s, Elderly parents, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Organizing Memoir, Sharon Crawford