Friday, June 11, 2010

Before Healing, Grief

I have started this post a thousand times. I wasn't able to finish it because I either dissolved into tears or feared that you would see through my need to be profound in this time of great pain. Either way, the post has gone unwritten for four weeks since Clyde passed away.

I still can't believe that's what's happened. Three months after the transplant, we all thought we had cancer beaten. Clyde was feeling great. There were no obvious signs of the disease. By all signs, the transplant had been a resounding success.

What wasn't apparent was that the enemy in our fight had changed forms. A rare occurrence in the fight against leukemia and lymphoma is a phenomenon called the Richter's transformation ( it occurs in about 8% of cases). This is when the disease literally changes form. In Clyde's case, the lymphoma changed from an indolent, slow growing, chronic form into one that was extremely virolent and aggresive. It attacked her spleen and liver and rendered her without energy and unable to combat the onslaught.

In the end, the fight was lost in two months. Twenty-two years of battle coming down to a change at a cellular level that proved too much, even for a warrior as tough and determined as Clyde.

As the cancer collected in Clyde's liver and spleen it was a source of great pain. The respective organs reside on the left and right of your stomach. The swelling of the organs made it almost impossible for Clyde to put anything into her stomach. The absence of nutrition contributed to her decreasing strength and energy. In the last several weeks she was very sick every day.

After having seen signs of a return to health it was very difficult to witness the decline. The major symptom that we all attached ourselves to was her red blood cell count. The report from each check-up was that of a declining RBC. On the days of the appointments we all waited for news of a turn-around. We belived that if her body would produce more red blood cells she would be alright. Unbenownst to us was that the lymphoma, in it's new, virolent form, was preventing her new marrow from doing it's job. We were losing her.

It's difficult to know the difference between hoping for a medical miracle and denial. The writing was on the wall yet we all waited for the clinic visit that would produce news of an unexplainable turn-around in her condition. For me, this lasted until the morning that Bob called me to say she had passed away.

It's been four weeks to the day. The pain of Cyde's passing ebbs and flows. I can go days where my thoughts focus on the gifts she gave me and the joys that comprised her life. Other days I can't work or focus. My siblings and parents are experiencing the same ups and downs. How can it be that Clyde is no longer here.

In the days and weeks to come it's my plan to lay out the thoughts and feelings that have dominated my existence in the last month. I know that there was meaning to the whole experience. It's my intense desire that there were lessons that will benefit those still living with lymphoma. I have a need to find the words that show my gratitude for the support you all have expressed. Thanks need to given to everyone that did all that was possible and available towards Clyde's treatment and recovery.

It would make sense that when the subject of a narrative dies that the story ends. The reality is that what we're going to get from Clyde in the physical realm has been defined. What we get from her in the mental, emotional and spiritual sense has only begun to play out. Please continue to read and help me understand the lessons and gifts with which Clyde has left us.

I'm going to have a good cry now.

Be well.


  1. Wow. You are an amazing individual.

  2. Rick
    My heart is very heavy. Your words and your giving continue to show me how much we can care for each other. Your love for Clyde went literally to the depths of your bones and beyond. It is my hope for you that you are able to find peaceful moments each day.
    Thank you for sharing the path you have walked these months with me. I feel deeply honored that you have shared so much and so deeply.

  3. You are such a gifted communicator and I'm sure your words will ease the pain of others who walk a similar path to yours Rick.

    Many Blessings and a big hug,