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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.
Report from Cancer Central
Let me begin this missive by thanking each and every one of you for reading all of this type. It occurred to me, as I was adding all of your names to the ’Blind carbon copy’ list of this letter what an incredible number of good, patient friends I have. This really means so much to me. An opportunity to communicate and to share some of this gunk with others makes it all a lot more bearable, believe me. So, once more, thanks everyone.
I am currently in the first leg of the ’hump’. The five week odyssey of constant chemo infusion and nightly radiation treatments. The radiation ends each week on Friday, but the chemo, God love it, works overtime, 24/7. The little bastard’s like some Korean store owner.
I wear a pump now. It’s a little electronic box about the size of a gameboy or maybe one of those Texas Instruments calculators we used to cheat our way through Calculus back in the 70’s. It lives in a fanny pack around my waist. It has an official name, the CADD Prizm 240 or something like that. I’ve had it on for five days now though and as we’ve gotten to know one another I’m realizing that CADD Prizm 240 just doesn’t work. It’s far too impersonal. After all, I sleep with this thing, bathe with this thing, move my bowels with this thing. I think we should at least be on a first name basis. So, I’m trying different handles out. So far I’ve got ’Grendel’, ’Golem’, ’Beelzebub’ and, oh yeah, ’Brad’. I’ll let you know which one sticks as I try them out over the next five weeks.
The pump thing really isn’t all that much of a hassle. Believe it or not, you do acclimatize yourself fairly quickly to having an extra appendage. I probably wouldn’t even realize it was there most of the time except that it makes this angry little growl every fifteen minutes or so when it pushes another toxic load into my bloodstream. It actually sounds like it’s enjoying itself. The little shit. I’ve taken to stuffing it under a pillow at night so Suz and I don’t have to listen to it.
I have homecare nurses who come on a weekly basis and flush out my PICC line and change my dressing. They are wonderful people. All of them very funny and energetic. More like friends than medical staff. They are very helpful with any questions or fears I might have. One of them even told me where babies come from. Wow, was that icky.
The Radiation treatments are a different deal altogether. Imagine making a nightly appointment to go into a room, lie down in front of complete strangers and stick your bare ass up in the air. I know some of you are remembering a distant trip to Thailand and nodding your heads. I’m gonna be ninety-nine years old and I’m still going to have nightmares in which I hear that cold, flat, disembodied oriental voice saying, "Okay now Mr. Crone, I’m just going to put this piece of metal by your anus...okay?" How do you respond to that? "Hey no worries Chu, my anus is your anus pal."
The worst part is trying to make small talk with your face jammed down through a rubber hole in the table, while some technician is shoving your hips around like a slab of fresh salmon. Thankfully, the whole thing really only takes about 15 minutes, so I just remember my days in prison and breathe through it.
Probably the hardest part of this step in the journey is that they’ve been more than upfront in telling me that the worst is yet to come. Apparently around the two week mark, as a result of combination of chemo and radiation, I may experience anything from mild diarrhea to spontaneous combustion. I can’t wait.
Meantime, I confess I am very tired most of the time. And that’s starting to bug me. Maybe it’s just because I’m in the middle of this thing and the end seems a long ways away or maybe I’m just sick of being sick. Whatever the reason, I find my patience is easily taxed. I find myself sliding quickly into sarcasm. A nasty, yet sometimes pleasurable place to be.
Suzanne is still my greatest friend and helper. Can’t imagine where I would be without her. Probably on a float in the Pride Parade or something. I don’t know. She shows remarkable patience and love everyday. I know I’m not the easiest guy to live with on some days. And she is carrying not only my worries but her own and those of the kids as well. To top things off I have asked her if she can hold the pump while we have sex. That may have been a bad call.
Anyway my friends, here we are, in the middle of this goofiness. On my good days I do feel quite well and am genuinely happy to be here and know that it will all end very shortly. On those dark days though, days when it seems like it’s all caving in on me, when tears are a blink away, I take great comfort in knowing how many of you are out there sending help. You’re my salvation at those times. You really are. As I’ve said before, and I will say again and again and again, please keep those cards and letters coming folks. They’re the rope I’m clinging too.
Heaps of love to you all
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