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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.
Hi again everybody. Thanks for reading and catching up. Sorry if it’s been some time since my last tome. I’ve been down and out for a while. Think I may have hit rock bottom last week. Or at least a reasonable facsimile. Just after week two of the Radiation and chemo combo (that’s Biggie Sized) the industrial strength diarrhea arrived on the scene. Oh yeah folks, this was freaking biblical. Nothing was staying in me for more than a few minutes. Even that anti-Christ of the church of fibre, ’WonderBread’ had a "Go straight to Exit" card. Do not pass GO, do not visit intestineland at all...take only photographs leave only footprints.
My oncologist, who by the by, is warming up a little, he smiles now and Suzanne and I think he may even have made a joke a while ago...it was hard to tell though. He’s the kind of guy who can make a Knock-knock joke sound like a death sentence. Anyway, he was actually quite terrific about this turn of events, even, dare I say it, empathetic. He gave me a week off of chemo and asked the Radiation guys to do the same. But, I guess the Radiation guys are in a different union or just don’t take guff from any oncologists because they insisted upon my continuing the treatment.
Well, that lasted until Wednesday morning when things had deteriorated to the point where Suz and I didn’t think I could make the car ride down to Sunnybrook unless one of us was wearing Depends and maybe a snorkel. After a couple of phone calls, Radiation finally caved and gave me the rest of the week off. Hallelujah!
I’m now back on the chemo pump, although at a lower dosage than before, and I’m going to Radiation in the evenings. I get two injections a day now, full of some wonder drug that is supposed to help the diarrhea immensely and also fight tumor growth (almost sounds as good as Crest doesn’t it?) So far, home care nurses have been sticking me with the needles but tonight, Suzanne, who I hope to God has been paying very close attention, is going to try her hand at it.
Actually I am sure she will be a natural. Prior to this she had taken over the saline flushes and Heparin injections to my PICC line and it was like falling off a log to her. The woman can do anything. Still, if you think I’ll have my eyes open during this first attempt with the needle tonight, you’re dreaming.
Aside from the trots, I’m feeling okay. The nausea is manageable most of the time, especially if I can keep my mind on something else. I hardly even notice the PICC line anymore and even the pump seems like an old friend. Well, not friend really, more like say, an old Shop teacher or that old lady down the block that your mom always said you had to be polite to, even though her breath was brutal and she looked weird.
I’ve almost shaved my head. They told me my hair would not be affected by the chemo, but they lied. The bastards. I noticed a few weeks ago that it was getting mighty thin up top. I looked in the mirror one morning and saw Mr. Roper looking back. That was the end of that. I gave the clippers to Suz and had her do a pre-emptive strike. She took it right down to the wood. And I kind of like it. Sure is low maintenance. Good news for a guy who hasn’t been able to shower for the last month. I take baths all the time now and I lie down with my PICC arm sticking straight up in the air. I look like some German businessman ordering a schnapps in the steam room.
Spiritually and emotionally I’m hanging in. Thanks, in large part, to so many of you who somehow manage to send your love along always at just the right moment. I may have mentioned this before, but I really cannot tell you how awestruck Suz and I have become as we watch the universe looking after us. I know that may sound loopy to a lot of you, but believe me, when you’ve witnessed enough doors opening just in the nick and arms appearing to catch you when you thought for sure this was the time you were going to hit the floor, you quickly become a believer.
Case in point, in the middle of perhaps my darkest moment of last week. When I just did not feel I could take another step in this whole journey, a letter arrived. I didn’t recognize the name on the return address. I opened it and read the most beautiful note from a young woman. She was a reader of my column and felt moved to write to me, telling me of her mother’s incredible battle with breast cancer. She told me about her mother dancing at her 40th wedding anniversary party, with her chemo pump over her dress. She told me about her mother’s laughter and her spirit, which was as bright as the sun right up until the disease claimed her this past April. It was one of the loveliest things I had ever read, and it came at the exact time I needed to hear something like that.
Suzanne came into the kitchen to find me bawling my eyes out. "What’s wrong honey?" she asked, putting her arms around me.
"Pretty...letter" was all I could gurgle out between sniffles.
That kind of thing happens all of the time. There is not a week goes by where warm arms do not reach out from somewhere to encircle us both. It really is something.
Anyway, I see that I have gone on for some time already. In closing let me say that I miss you all so much. But we’re just now passing the halfway mark of all of this bullshit and I know it will not be long before I see many of you in the flesh once again. Those of you I have not yet seen in the flesh might want to start working out.
I love every one of you with the strength of ten Grinches plus two.
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