The Big “C” strikes again….

I received a call, today, from my brother, telling me that Alice, my sister-in-law, wife of my brother in Halifax is in the palliative care unit.

She has lung cancer. They give her “a few weeks” – less if the cancer moves aggressively.

Alice and Mom

Alice and Mom last November

Alice is the sweetest woman you will ever meet. She has suffered from a number of medical problems, including asthma, environmental allergies, and Fibromyalgia. Despite her pain and chronic conditions which have limited her mobility, she has always been cheerful and warm to everyone she meets.

John and Mom

John and Mom

John and Alice met later in life, and they were “made for each other”. I have never seen two people so comfortable and caring towards each other.

John took a job up on Iqaluit and then to Chesterfield Inlet (I think it was) for a couple of years and the time they spent up there was freeing for Alice because she suffered less from her allergies.



They had to come back down to Halifax, though, but we saw Alice and John a number of times when Alice was in town for appointments with specialists. One memorable time was once when I took Mom in for an appointment for X-rays at a clinic up the road from us. I sat down in the lobby and the man sitting next to me looked familiar… It was John! Alice was having tests done at the same clinic.

We all went for lunch and had a lovely visit.

John isn’t a “blood brother” of mine but he’s the next best thing. John is my step-brother’s half-brother. In our family, that is still “family” and I love them both as much as (and in some ways more than!) some of the family closer to me.

I cannot imagine John’s feelings as he sits with his soul-mate, watching her die. For me, this is the second major loss this year to cancer, to lung cancer in fact. And it is… I am trying to count… the 5th person I know battling with cancer… No… sixth.



  1. VioletSky said,

    September 19, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    I am so sorry. I hope you will get a chance to speak with her, if not actually see her.

  2. azahar said,

    September 19, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I personally dislike the term “battling with cancer”. It is not a battle, nor – even worse – a journey. It’s an illness and it sucks and I reckon most people do their best to try and deal with it. And quite frankly, I would rather know someone with cancer than have it myself.

    • mudhooks said,

      September 19, 2009 at 8:50 pm

      You’re right, az. (and I have “corrected” the post).

  3. September 17, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Man, that must really suck. I think getting news like that has the same physical impact on a person as a punch in the solar plexus. It is particularly hard to take when it is someone you really care about and there are people you care about who are being radically impacted.

    Cancer seems to be everywhere nowadays. Considering how completely inundated we have been for the last couple of decades in things like artificial scents, preservatives, and artificial colors, it is not particularly surprising to me that so many more people are contracting this deadly disease. I am sorry that it is such a common thing in your life. However, I will say that during the course of my work I get appraised of all sorts of things going on in my client’s lives, and at the present moment I know of over a dozen people who have some sort of cancer right now. This is no comfort, but your experience is more common than you might think.

    Perhaps that is why the situation in your previous post is also becoming more common. People are getting shell shocked by the things that are happening. With the economy the way it is, “How are you?” could very well be answered by someone saying, “I’m in shock, I just lost my job.” We are socially conditioned to ask the question, and so the habit of speech is hard to drop. Sometimes it is just a greeting, and we aren’t really expecting any more than “Oh, HI! How are you?”

    {{{virtual hug}}}

    • mudhooks said,

      September 17, 2009 at 2:36 am

      Thank you…

      Of course, we may just THINK that more people are getting cancer. I know when my grandmother got breast cancer back in the 1940s, you didn’t talk about such things. Cancer was seen as something shameful, even as a punishment from God. My grandmother wouldn’t even go to the doctor until it was too late to do anything about it.

      Much of the family didn’t even know she was sick, let alone that she had cancer and it was something that if they DID know, they wouldn’t have mentioned because of the stigma. Some of the family even shunned her when they DID find out.

      • September 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm

        Very good point about us just thinking more people are getting cancer. Wonder how many people died of it in the old days but nobody knew it was anything other than a pain in the belly. Riveting reading in John Adam’s biography where the description of his sister’s radical mastectomy happens. Imagine having that surgery done with the only anaesthetic was whiskey. I can’t.

        I also can’t comprehend shunning someone because they are sick. Of course, back in the 40s if you had a child that had birth defects or was disabled, that was also seen as a punishment from God. Makes you wonder about God, doesn’t it??? Or at least our conception of the deity.

        • mudhooks said,

          September 19, 2009 at 9:30 pm

          My grandmother, back in the 1920s had her tonsils out using NO anaesthetic… Can you imagine?

          She died… Little wonder.

          The family said it was because she had a heart condition and the doctor felt it would be worse on her heart to give her the anaesthetic. I would have thought having surgery with no anaesthetic would have been worse. At least she would have died without feeling pain…

          I remember reading accounts of them doing bladder stone surgery without anything but whiskey…. YIKES!

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