The West Penn Hospital parking bridge is strung with green garland, red bows and lights. It’s cheery.
Joe and I gasped at the same time the first time we saw it.
We cross that bridge …a lot.
West Penn is home to the Mellon Cancer Pavilion and where my cancer doc is located. I have metastatic malignant melanoma. Stage 4 skin cancer. There’s no cure for it. There’s only keeping it at bay with treatments every 21 days to kick start my immune system.
I haven’t written in a while because I was terrifically depressed.
When I was first diagnosed, every night I lay next to Joe in bed and cried. Sad sobs, telling him I didn’t want to leave him. And how selfish me didn’t want him to be alone, but didn’t want him to take up with another woman either after I died.
(He is a catch. Devoted husband, father and grandfather who has supported me twice through cancer and still brings me tea every morning. I am spoiled.)
The first time I attended church I cried. The lady behind me handed me a pack of tissues during the service. I’m not angry at God or even questioning my condition. I’m just sad that I’m going through it and sad for losing the life I had planned. Sad for my family.
Friends have sent me wonderful cards and best wishes. It’s nice to know people care.
Over the course of the month, really after my first infusion, my outlook lifted. I feel like something is being done. I have a slight rash, which the doc says occurs 90 percent of the time when the therapy is working.
I’m happier. I look forward to our changed future.
We’re stationary. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in a converted school in Pittsburgh. There’s a pool table in the lobby. Joe keeps making jokes about walking the halls wanting to tell students to get back to class.
The apartment is HUGE compared to the motorhome. One bedroom with big classroom sized windows and a dishwasher.
The future doesn’t include living full time in our motorhome, but we still plan to travel in it between treatments.
We can walk to the grocery, a really good bakery, restaurants, the drugstore, our bank and our church. We’re a mile from our daughter. We saw fireworks from the building’s rooftop on Light Up Night in Pittsburgh.
We’re still volunteering, just not traveling the country to do it. We hooked back up with the church we attended last year and volunteer with their community meals and food pantry. We fold clothes for the clothes closet. We painted the stage ceiling.
I love their vision: Love God, Love People and Do Something About it.
When the homeless shelter on Smithfield Street reopens we will volunteer there again too.
Joe’s back climbing at the rock climbing gym and I’m doing yoga there. We take long walks overlooking Pittsburgh. I plan to run a 5k in the spring.
And in July we’re taking the whole family, eight of us, to Hawaii.
I’ve decided not to put off the things I’ve always wanted to do. If I’m going to have a shorter life span, then I’d better get crackin. There are places to go and people to meet.
In the meantime, I’ll cross the West Penn Hospital parking bridge at least twice a month. I wonder if they decorate it for Easter?