[As in other sections of this website, I’ll be adding content regularly to this page. Please re-visit periodically to stay abreast of the additional information in “About the Book.” –Thank you, Tom Cooney Jr.]
CANCER: A 9 Year Struggle (The Journey, after a Diagnosis of 4th Stage Cancer)
(308 pages: hardback, softcover, eBook; released by Infinity Publishing, 5/13/2013)
Essence (taken from the back cover): “Tom and Irene created the best road to travel through 9 years of 4th stage colon cancer treatments including 6 major surgeries, an extraordinary 175 chemotherapies, clinical trials, and many other procedures. With probable life expectancy at 2-5 years initially, Irene chose to undergo aggressive regimens providing optimal outcomes even though side effects would be worse than common protocols. Between treatments, they traveled extensively always urging the medical team to focus on quantity. Tom and Irene, themselves, would concentrate on providing quality. Tom Cooney Jr. takes you along with him as Irene braves the rugged path before her. Travel with Tom and Irene through 9 years of cancer. Accompany them through 6 major surgeries, 175 chemotherapies, and several clinical trials, then witness Irene’s final moments.”
Before I begin, please take a moment to read yet another Brian Brill poem dedicated to the story of Irene and me. He wrote it while reading the book and visiting this website after accepting my challenge to do so. Brian more than surpassed my expectations, as usual, when he crafted “In Angels’ Wings.” There are a few more of Brian’s poems on different pages within this website. Please browse and enjoy Brian’s wonderful verse inspired by his interpretation of passages, dialogue, and “between the lines,” as he turned the pages of Cancer: A 9 Year Struggle.
In Angels’ Wings
“Good night Irene, good night Irene.”
“Irene, goodnight Irene.”
In slumber hopes you dream of me,
While sleeping so serene.
Fortuitous are my feelings dear,
To have had someone like you.
Though our years we had together,
Were like heaven but so few.
When in the early hours,
On that second summer morn,
You left me for another,
To God you were reborn.
Then in my mind two angels seen,
From heaven did descend.
Your soul they wrapped within their wings
As your time on Earth did end.
No never shall I see my love,
My eyes blinded now with tears.
Thank you dearest, sweet Irene,
For giving me those years.
And when my body I shall need no more,
Be one angel of the two,
To wrap my soul within your wings,
To spend eternity with you………….BB BRILL 9/4/2013
It was the 1st of August, 2012, when I started writing the book, about 40 days after Irene, my loving wife, passed away from colon cancer on June 22, 2012. From an initial 4th stage colon cancer diagnosis (spread to her liver), it eventually encroached across her entire mid-section. The book chronicles from our first meeting in 1999, described in “Our” Introduction, through her death (and beyond), to a “Postscript” when Irene and I have “Conversations.”
Though I don’t recall much of those 40 days following her death, I do, however, remember everything that happened during the time I was writing. I was finally roused somewhat from my grief and sat down in front of the computer with Irene looking over my shoulder as co-author. It was an emotional undertaking but a therapeutic experience also. I’ll describe that difficult period in the section below, Anatomy of Writing, CANCER: A 9 Year Struggle. I’ll also take you through the editing, proofing, cover design, and finally, to the day when the book became available; I’ll even go beyond the publication date to the design and construction of this website. But to begin, here’s an overview of the Contents to orient you. I’ll pick up the conversation on the other side of it.
Table of Contents
- Chapter One
- Getting to Know Irene—and Me
- My Quirks
- Gateway to her Personality: Irene’s Smile
- Chapter Two
- The Return Trip from Florida
- Officer Irene: Pre-diagnosis
- The 4th Stage Diagnosis: “Call Your Doctor”
- The Battle Begins
- Colon Surgery: Updating Family and Friends
- Chapter Three
- Infusion Port Insertion
- Ongoing Chemotherapy and Ongoing Side Effects
- Work Related Schedules: Logistics
- Inside the Fox Chase Infusion Room
- Liver Surgery: Right Lobe Removed
- Home for the Holidays
- Life Goes On: We Hope
- What does the Future Hold?
- Chapter Four
- There’s more to Life than Chemo and Surgeries
- Some Time to Travel: Let’s Enjoy
- California Wine Country
- A Short Trip to Vegas
- The Sunshine State
- Bad News: Back to the Infusion Room
- Loyalty and Support: the Men and Women in Blue
- Chapter Five
- Wedding Bells
- Wrapping-up 2005; Going into 2006
- 2006 New Year: New Problems
- Traveling South
- Here We Go Again: Lung Surgery
- Relocation to Florida
- Is Chemo Working?
- Foot Loose and Fancy Free
- Chapter Six
- The Liver Again: Left Lobe this Time
- Immunotherapy: Potential Deliverance?
- Yet Another Setback
- California Wine Country—Again
- Erin Go Bragh—Cead Mille Failte!
- The Struggle Continues
- Another Disappointment
- Huge Intercession
- Chapter Seven
- Riding the Rails
- Back to Reality
- Irene’s Mom Moves to Bradenton
- Medical History Summary through 2009
- 2010: Radio-embolization
- Ireland, Germany and a Volcanic Eruption
- Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)
- Chapter Eight
- Hospital Admission—Again
- Happy Interlude
- TPN Continued
- TPN Discontinued
- Enteral Feeding Tube
- Chapter Nine
- The Continuing Leakage Problem
- Additional Worries: Insurance Search
- Treatment Continued
- A Different Path Ahead
- Chapter Ten
- Clinical Research Unit: First Attempt
- Clinical Research Unit: Second Attempt
- Irene’s Last Day to ever Drive
- Reclusive and Reflecting
- Irene’s Last Appointment at Moffitt CC
- Chapter Eleven
- Arranging Hospice
- Irene’s Final Moments
- Necessities of Life—and, Death
- Irene’s Funeral Mass
- Don’s Eulogy
- The Continuing Presence of Irene
- Post Script
- The Claddagh Rings and the Diamond
- Promises Kept
- Habits Acquired
- The Calling
The Anatomy of Writing the Book, CANCER: A 9 Year Struggle
My initial thoughts, when I positioned myself in front of my Dell computer, were to simply write a tribute to Irene. I felt that Irene was so unique in so many ways, I had to, at least for myself, document those characteristics which made everyone who knew her to simply love her. From that therapeutic process, I started to believe she could teach so many sufferers and caregivers how to cope, fight the disease, and most of all, how to love. In my grief, I wanted everyone to know Irene and to be just like her, so in my writing and musing, I depict Irene as I knew her. Then I would be able to smile and be happy again, and dwell among the living, if everyone I met was as pleasant and unselfish as Irene always was. Love is a much simpler emotion than most of us believe it to be, especially when it springs up in us naturally. That was Irene’s beauty: she loved in such an uncomplicated manner–so naked and unencumbered. That was what I learned from her: her love for me and my love for her, each was always so effortless.
I was 60 years old when I met Irene. She was 15 years junior to me, and by her example, taught me so much about my own ability to love, which had been dormant in me for so many years. Irene brought it from deep within me and made it soar up and onto the surface. That eruption was such a beautiful release in which we both were able to share during our too brief moment-in-time together.
[To be continued … ]