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Neil Crone’s Journal
Neil Crone is an actor and writer and a national spokesperson for the CCAC. A Second City veteran improvisor, host and stand up comic, Neil also loves to write poems and stories for "big and little kids".
Neil has written a journal of his experience with colorectal cancer.
This will be, I sincerely hope, the last correspondence I make to you from Cancer Central. I do believe we are finally at the end. Well, the end of the chemo and radiation anyway. What a strange and wonderful journey this has been. I find myself caught in a sense of weird timelessness. Most of the usual markers are gone from me, the things I used to be able to gauge the passage of my life with. Work, schedule, deadline, even daily chores. I seem to have been floating through these last six months, waiting, hoping to get to this point, the end.
So, some realignment is due I suppose. That will be good. I feel ready for work now, eager to get back into life at more of a contributor level. As my health and energy return I find myself looking forward to the challenge of my work once again, auditions, studying, performance. I want to take the load from Suzanne who has carried so much for so long. I want to give her a rest, to let her focus on her life for a while.
These last two chemo rounds have been very tolerable. A half an hour in the chair every morning for a week and then three weeks off to recoup. I have found them much easier than the middle of the summer with the pump and the nightly drill of radiation. Perspective is everything. Last Friday, my last day in the oncology ward was a strange one. I was immensely happy to be leaving. I brought the nurses a bouquet of flowers as an inadequate thank you and, when the time came to get up out of the chair for the last time I actually felt very sad. I think, mostly, because of those still in the chairs. They cheered me and waved with intra-veinoused arms, but their eyes, bless them, looked so tired. There was an older woman seated next to me on that last day. We’d been ’chair’ neighbors for the week and as such I couldn’t help but overhear some of her conversations with her husband and son who accompanied her each day. She had been 185 lbs when she started her treatments and had had lush shoulder length hair. She was now 109 pounds and had the scalp of an ostrich. She came to her chair every morning in a wheelchair, wrapped in blankets to keep out the chill that seemed to be always with her. She was in the chair long after I left each day. And yet, she still found the strength to laugh on occasion and always had a smile for the nurses. I found her quite amazing and on my last day of chemo I told her so. I reached over to touch her shaking hands and I told her what an inspiration she was to me. I thanked her for putting my own complaints in their proper place. She smiled a beautiful smile and whispered that she was glad of that. I could have picked her up and carried her home at that point.
And so, yes, my heart broke a little bit as I blew a kiss to the room and wished them all good health. I hope they’re all out of there soon. As for me, I couldn’t get out of that damned hospital fast enough. That night, Suzanne and I held a champagne toast and chemo card burning celebration for a few neighbors and family. I wish we could have had all of you there. But there is still time for that my friends, still time for that.
I didn’t know how much strength I’d have for celebrating that night, but we simply couldn’t let this hallmark pass without some kind of fete. So, after some toasts and thank-you’s we placed my chemo cards on a specially selected silver platter and burned the fuckers. It felt pretty good. It felt even better to have a house filled with laughter and the warm voices of friends. I hadn’t laughed that much in a while. It was particularly nice to see Suzanne letting go and ’playing’ again. I could see the weight falling off of her lovely shoulders.
So, here we are. This week is passing well. The side effects from last weeks dosage have been very manageable, although poor Suzanne has had to make her morning coffee out in the garage, as the smell (for some weird reason) suddenly makes me want to wretch. But that will pass in a few days. Three nights a week she and I and Connor are in rehearsals for ’The Nerd’. A play we are doing with a local group in Uxbridge. It’s been a much-needed diversion from nausea and a great source of laughter for all of us. A good stepping-stone back into performance too.
And, very soon, I hope to be seeing you all again. If my energy levels continue to climb as they have I don’t see why I couldn’t be back backstabbing other actors in a week or so.
I guess then, it’s time to close the book on this thing. Remarkable how bittersweet I find writing this to be. You have all helped so much in the passage of this illness that I am a little reluctant to let go. Perhaps I should end by taking a page out of my own chemo book and tell you that you have all been a huge inspiration to me and more. Let me leave you blowing all of you a kiss as well and wishing you everlasting health.
Yours in greatest of love and affection,
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