In a personal essay titled There’s Hope, Blume, 83, revealed how one Saturday night in Key West, Florida, he turned into a trip to Baptist Hospital in Miami followed by months of chemotherapy treatments once Cooper was diagnosed. with pancreatic cancer.
Blume shared that, at first, doctors thought he had painless jaundice, but tests later confirmed that he had pancreatic cancer, that more than 60,000 Americans are diagnosed in a year, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).
In Blume’s rehearsal, she shared what the day before chemotherapy was like and an update on Cooper’s trip today. Most of all, she thanked PanCAN for being a resource to help her and her family when they did not know what actions to take from her.
Blume wrote the essay for PanCAN as part of the organization’s advocacy efforts that will culminate in a virtual event on June 14 titled “Voices in Action.” There is hope is available at PanCAN.org. Read on for an excerpt from the essay:
There was a little park outside the building where we were staying and every morning we walked, usually a mile and a half, and slowly. Most nights George wanted ice cream. As a pregnant woman, she had food cravings and sometimes could not eat a meal that she previously enjoyed. We went to the medical marijuana store and he stocked up.
There were many ups and downs. He was hospitalized twice, once with bacteremia / sepsis, a serious blood infection. I called [George’s daughter] Amanda because she had promised that things got worse. She was on a plane the next day and immediately, George was applauded. This was in the middle of February. He spent a week in the hospital. His port was suspected to be the site of the infection and he was removed, but he was clean. At first they tried to continue the infusions through his veins, but he burned so badly that they had to implant another port. He still complains that his “great veins” were ripped apart by chemotherapy.
Sometimes the day after chemotherapy, he said that he felt like a war was going on inside his body. Sometimes the next day he would be so awake that we would joke that instead of taking a walk in the park he would go swimming to Ft. Lauderdale and ride his bike back. This was from the steroid they gave him, along with anti-nausea medications before chemotherapy. Medical marijuana helped with his appetite, pain, and relaxed him.
In the middle of the six months we had our week off and he wanted to participate in the Key West St. Patrick’s Day 3K run / walk. I went with him. We were wearing green tutus. That was the best he had felt since he started treatment and he would not feel so good again for months.
On the day of his final chemotherapy, we wore T-shirts that said End of Chem in purple letters. We took photos with Dr. H, who had become very dear to us. We loved his humor, his honesty, his wise care. He and his staff could not have been more friendly or helpful. That day we celebrated with lunch at a Miami Beach restaurant.
The next morning George was sick, as sick as he had seen him since the bacteremia. He was admitted to the hospital and given intravenous antibiotics. I called Amanda again. She was already on her way to Key West to celebrate with us, but he was able to change his flight and get to Miami that night. He was hospitalized for six days. Cholangitis, an infection around the bile duct, was suspected. He also had a blood clot in his neck. We were all surprised that he recovered from these setbacks so quickly. The magic of antibiotics. (And maybe George’s magic?)
Our grandson was getting married in Boston in early September. Our goal was to be there. My goal was to dance until I fell. We did it and I did it.It is now June 2021. We just celebrated George’s 84th birthday. We have overcome the pandemic. We are fully vaccinated and have returned to work in our library. We try to walk two miles every day, as we did for the past year. We also bike to the store. George may not have the stamina he had before, but neither do I. Falls asleep easily (good luck!). He has regained 12 of the 20 pounds lost. He probably won’t win anymore. His scans are clear and instead of every three months, we have graduated every four.