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The link to this page was shared with you because someone wanted you to know those battling cancer are never alone...never.

We don’t know you, but we know your journey
Copyright Robert Bean & Sons (C) 2017

Some personal and vulnerable words for those who have loved ones facing their final days...know there are many of us who don’t know you, but we know your journey

I remember the first call
She, 31 years old with our two young boys at home
Me away on business
Alone and afraid she says, “I have cancer, can you come home?”
I offer, “I’ll be home tomorrow”
She says, “Can you come tonight, they operate tomorrow”
It’s serious
She cracked a joke about me not dying on the way home, we laughed, I cried silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

I’m there when they bring her out
The tumour, the size of a fastball, the incisions twice the size
Our chances of more children gone
Over the next 18 years her body repeatedly disfigured by an accumulation of seemingly innocent skin surgeries…no patch of skin untouched
In the presence of others she would say the finger long scar on her back was a knife wound inflicted by me…she winks, I wince, we laugh, I cry silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

Then melanoma, she’s 49
The surgery removed her calf, she tells people a shark bit her
During the next seven years the cancer moved through into her groin and abdomen
Multiple difficult surgeries left us both scarred - her more than me
She joked the weight control program was working…I joked that I still had all my hair and teeth. We still loved each other. All was good in the world. We laugh. I cry silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

She, now 53 years old, sees our boys graduate from college hoping one day to see grandkids
Headaches, fatigue, lapse in memory drive us to the emergency ward
The cancer has moved into her brain
Sitting there on the bed, her head shaved, and face bruised, swollen, 28 staples tell the story
“Hi I’m from oncology” says the doc, without missing a beat Karen says, “Hi I’m from neurosurgery”
She still has it...we laugh. I cry silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

The first of several masks are cast to hold her head down against the stereotactic radiation table, laser beam surgeries for controlling growth and swelling
She is prescribed dexamethasone…and suffers the worst of its side effects. We all suffer with her. Leave or stay there is no win. My vows running through my head only once, “Through sickness and health till death do us part” I stay - it is so hard to watch.
“Do you need a hand” I would ask her, “no, a brain…but not your brain”. We laugh. I cry silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

She played her piano, a note missed - a sign of a new tumour
I say to her, “babe you're a little unstable on your feet”, she replies, “would you rather I walk on my hands” She smiles, I laugh
Christmas Eve it’s back to the hospital for another MRI
The tumours have spread throughout her body there are no more options
She consoles the doctor, always comforting first those who gave her bad news
With knowledge of her pending death, still in the hospital she notices a young woman in stress, alone and in need of help…her career social work skills kick in...she summons a nurse for her…it’s in her character…it’s who she was
Home she returns with a supply of pain meds for her last Christmas dinner
High as a kite, funny as ever, she squeals out HO HO HO Merry Christmas!
Her uplifting spirit – her last gift to us - her best gift of all
We all laugh, I cry silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

14 days later, we sneak her Kamie up to her hospital bed, the little fur ball senses this is the last time she will see her friend…the dog curls up beside her and lays still
The next morning, Karen takes her last breath while in our arms
She had just turned 57
My son there in the room still holding her hand looks up at me seconds after she passed, with a grin in his eyes but in a deadpan voice says, “Hey, I heard you just lost your wife, I am so sorry” We laugh out loud, we cry loudly, we know Karen is watching and laughing. We cheer her on to her next journey
The room is light, free of burdens, hers and ours, it’s as if gravity has left us
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

My wife of 34 years battled cancer for 27 of them, we were her army. Often times unprepared for what lay ahead. She said cancer would never beat her because she would drag it down with her…she succeeded…her courage built upon her faith
Sometimes it seemed like we were absent, but we were always there behind her, beside her - every step of the way…if she were here she would tell us to be kind to ourselves…

At only 5’4” she left this world with over 40” of surgical scars...there were few parts of her body that were untouched
There are too many surgeries, MRI’s, PET scans and x-rays to remember…the wound clinics knew her intimately...the oncology team became her friends
She had claustrophobia, I held her ankle during every MRI but one, and cleaned and bandage her wounds after each operation...I learned to hide my fear and sadness
I grieved for her every time she was wheeled out into post op and every time she went back in
Each hospital departure she would joke to administration staff, talk to my husband he is my pay-pal…we would laugh, I would cry silently
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

Left now are memories and a library of smart ass remarks we have called Karenisms
Her form of emotional haiku that would cause us to explode in anger, cry in sadness or pee our pants laughing…she was so good
A wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sibling, aunt, friend and colleague to those in Alberta Health Services
She changed people’s lives, it was her calling

We would take long walks…talk about not being alone…she and I never wishing loneliness on anyone…with her blessing I to seek out and find another partner to grow old with
I used to think grief would be easy but it’s not. I lied to myself and others that I was ready to move on but know now its not that easy...for me, her passing hasn’t faded - life just finds new roots and seems to grow outwards from grief's boundaries
I have solace in the memories of her humour and that it remains a gift within my sons
Her last laugh played out for her as we all sat around her now still body…one of my sons says, “dad you’re dripping from your nose, let me wipe that off", I replied, "as I get older I’ll be dripping from all orifices", to which my other son said, "I get dibs on the upper half”
We all laugh uncontrollably…it’s a classic - we know she is with us – always
We don’t know you, but we know your journey

Wishing those families with pending loss to find peace and tranquility in the laughter of our most precious loved ones who try to make us strong as they themselves become weak…

We don’t know you, but we know your journey