Half a Glass, Please. Red.

On Friday, we closed the door of our Mexican house and said an early morning goodbye to the bougainvillea, finally blooming, and the hibiscus in full flower

We’d spent the day before packing and repacking. I felt the usual annoyance at the amount of camera and computer paraphernalia that makes our carry-on suitcases and backpacks heavier than is reasonable for a couple of 70-somethings.

“Can you find a spot for this?” Two hard drives and a pair of binoculars appeared on the bed beside my backpack, which I had naively believed would be nearly empty. I sighed and bit back a response. I should know by now. I will never be one of those women who travels with a colourful woven bag slung over her shoulder, containing nothing but her passport, her wallet, a good book, and a shawl.

In Friday’s pre-dawn, the now heavily-loaded backpack on my shoulders, I closed the door behind me. Jack had already packed the suitcases into the car, which we will leave at the airport for friends to pick up and store until we return. It is like every return trip. And like no other. It is February, too early to go home. We have had only three days to prepare. That was when we learned that the cluster of symptoms Jack has been experiencing since our arrival in December—even earlier as we look back—was due to a large malignancy on his left kidney. We were going home for further tests and treatment, unsure sure what was awaiting us.

After a day with our kids and grandkids in Kitchener, we are now home. Galen travelled with us and is spending a few days with us—an upside of the medical emergency is time alone with our youngest son. Home is where we need to be now, dirty heaps of sloppy snow notwithstanding. I had thought a month or so of crisp, bright winter would be good for my soul, another possible up-side, but instead we are welcomed home by a February thaw: gray, drizzle, snow turning to ice on its way to becoming slush.

We are still unsure exactly what’s ahead, but this morning we met with the urologist, who presented us with an overview of treatment possibilities. Although Jack brought piles of test results and documentation from the hospital in Mexico, the system here requires its own results, so the doctor is ordering additional tests and repeats of the Mexican ones. We see the doctor again on Thursday, at which point he should have the results he needs and begin to map the way forward.

Jack is a glass half full guy—annoyingly optimistic at times, if truth be told, but optimism will serve him well for the next while. And though it goes against my nature, I will be trying to walk on the sunny side too, looking at only the bottom half of the glass. Maybe I’ll shift from white wine to red—easier to see the fill-line.

I don’t want to turn this site into a cancer blog. I’ll continue writing about other things. But most of you know Jack, and this is a way to keep you up-to-date as things evolve.


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7 Responses to Half a Glass, Please. Red.

  1. Bill Mohrman says:

    Paula (and Jack):
    Thank you for the update. I’m sure all of your friends will be anxious to know how things are progressing. Progressing!
    One way to keep this from becoming a cancer blog, would be to establish an account on CaringBridge.com, which is designed to be a channel of communication between people facing significant medical situations and their family and friends. I allows one to post journal entries (even pictures if you want) and allows family and friends to send messages to you. My late wife Sue had a CaringBridge account and it was a quite successful avenue of communication.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Thanks for the update. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  3. Angileen Gallop says:

    We’ll sneak a little vino into the writing group. Looking forward to seeing you again. Prayers for Jack’s health.

  4. Sue Corcoran says:


    Thanks for the update. We’ve been thinking of you. I have wanted to write but didn’t know what to say. So I’ve have been keeping my mouth shut and my fingers crossed.

    When John was diagnosed with bladder cancer three years ago, well, I’m happy to say I don’t quite remember how I felt. I think I was in denial most of the time. John, bless him, stayed pretty cool about it all just so I wouldn’t worry too much. His surgeon was wonderful and so was/is the oncologist.

    Drs. and what they can do these days . . . Astounding. Love to you both, Sue and John


  5. carolynrmiller says:

    Thanks for keeping us (all) posted. And wishing both of you a huge dose of optimism, along with whatever other treatments are in store.

  6. Annie C. Smith says:

    so glad you wrote. I have been thinking about you both. Writing is a good grounding tool. You will be missed tomorrow but somewhat there in spirit I am sure. With much love to you both.

  7. katie hayhurst says:

    No, it’s not a cancer blog. It’s a ‘life blog’… including the trials and tribulations that go along with life, from time to time. Really appreciate the update, Paula, and I love the way you are able to express so well the real you, and the real Jack. You know yourselves well. You’ll be learning a lot more about yourselves through this, I expect. You are wonderful friends, and we wish you all the best over this next while. Glad you are home! Please keep the updates coming. Big Hugs. k&d

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