In the lowest level of the Cancer Agency is an area I refer to as ‘The Bunker’ because of its nuclear warning signs everywhere and the thickness of the concrete doors. There is a quietness down here unlike the rest of the hospital. Silence because of the soundproofing of the construction and silence because it is a sad environment for the patients there.
It still freaks me out a little, and we have seen allot this year. Fourteen months ago they “took a chance” on Brenda with whole brain radiation – right here. I remember being told before the treatment, “You need to understand some people do not make it through the treatment.” That get’s your attention.
‘The Bunker’ is one place where I actually like to have someone with me waiting for Brenda. My daughters and sons came last year for they understood it is too easy for Dad to get discouraged when alone here. Half-joking I referred to it then as being like a scene from “The Walking Dead.” There are so many patients who are receiving radiation as a paliative treatment to help them with pain and they look like they are near the end of their journey.
So what is my wife doing here? She doesn’t fit in with this crowd. In fact she stands out. All the staff love her – you can see it in their faces and by how they interact with her. Peace and joy radiate from her because of our faith and the prayers of thousands who support her.
Brenda is not always steadfast and brave. We both have our moments. Last night she reached out to her little prayer circle because she said she was losing her nerve. We prayed, they prayed and today went well. Many do not know this, but my wife is from a card carrying Albertan ‘cowboy’ family. Often I see the cowgirl in her. Like a cute little Canadian version of John Wayne in a dress, Brenda would echo, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
So here we are again in ‘The Bunker’ getting Brenda measured for a CT guided radiation treatment that starts Monday on the primary tumour in her lung. Technology today allows them to do this with a precision unknown even five years ago. Her tumour is of a size now where this radiation treatment is possible and her new oncologist wants us to “kill that thing” to relieve pain and continue extending her days. After the lung is zapped, the radiation oncologist mentioned wanting to “have a go” at the cancer in her back bones. This is all good news and provides hope and that sense of life and living another day.
Being in ‘The Bunker’ does something for me. The protective concrete environment here reminds me that cancer cannot silence Brenda’s courage. It cannot cripple our love for one another. It cannot break our family apart – we were prepared for such a challenge. Cancer cannot destroy friendship – in fact our friendships with others are growing deeper. Cancer cannot shatter the hope we have in God’s love, mercy and grace and we will not allow it to conquer our spirit in all of this.
So it is time to hunker down – apply ourselves seriously to the task – and hit ‘The Bunker.’
Prayers gratefully accepted. – Carson