In August 2022, it was determined by Dr. Padilla and the radiologist that Jeff would require 3 ½ weeks of radiation treatment. First, they did a Cat Scan, then tattooed Jeff with little dots in and around this stomach region to show where they would blast that little gremlin with radiation. As Jeff said, it wasn’t the tattoo he thought HE would ever get. Yikes, this would mean Monday to Friday driving back and forth each day to Guadalajara for each of the 15-minute sessions of radiation treatment. Well, time to put my driving hat on and conquer the big city of Guadalajara! Fun fact, it doesn’t seem to matter where we need to go in Guadalajara, it typically takes 1 ½ hours from Ajijic. However, returning home can range from 1 ½ hours to 2+ hours. I won’t lie, I was feeling a little anxious about driving everyday, not to mention how Jeff was going to feel after his treatment, would he be nauseous, in pain? These would not be quick little trips each day.
We had a plan, if we were going to be Guadalajara each day, why not check out some area/stores for a little bit of fun. Well, that didn’t exactly go according to plan…. The first day Sher came with us and we thought “Hey we could do lunch…. how about a Starbucks instead!” So, strange, Jeff barely had any nauseous days all the way through Chemo treatments, but radiation was going to prove to be more challenging. When I say “all roads from radiation treatments are bumpy” it was an understatement. Driving in Guadalajara was like driving in Toronto on steroids. There is nothing worse than trying to avoid something like bumps and potholes, but in reality, I felt like I was nailing each and every single one alllll the way home. The radiation treatments would cause some cramping in his stomach, but wow, the nausea was strong, followed by exhaustion. Thank God for the nausea medication prescribed during chemo called Amal! It would prove to be a magic pill that kept the nausea low and manageable. Sometimes we were reminded by our doctors that “hey, you just completed 6 rounds of chemo, and all of your weekly medications, this will have a cumulative affect on your body”. Just because one chapter of treatments was over, doesn’t mean Jeff’s body was going to magically recover overnight.
This chapter in Jeffs’ treatments felt like Groundhog Day, every day driving in, having his treatment, then driving home…. repeat! It was definitely nerve-racking driving the first week for me, and over the course of 3 ½ weeks, it took its toll on me as well. I was feeling the exhaustion of being hyper alert to everything and everyone around us, while driving, at treatment, all of it. I would feel guilty for feeling tired and irritable certain days, suck it up buttercup, you are not going through the treatments, you don’t have cancer. The reality is, no, I wasn’t experiencing this life changing monster like jeff, but I was IN this reality with him. As a caregiver, you are riding a roller coaster of the physical and emotional parallel to those you love, it’s hard not to feel the effects…. it’s a human response.
The one constant that was present throughout this battle was the support. The support of our friends, family, doctors, as well as the family members we would meet each and everyday at the radiation clinic. It was the simple things I appreciated each day, the meals our friends made for us, taking care of Maple Lou, a smile and a Buen Dia and Hasta Luego from the families at the clinic, knowing we would all see each other tomorrow. There was also this quirky little cooking show I would watch in the waiting room to keep my mind occupied called “En la Cocina con Geronimo” a Mexican flamboyant chef, it had this catchy toon that would stick with me, and at times I would sing it out loud, always good for a laugh or two. A year later, I often wonder if they too are winning their battle against this monster……