The Cancer Diaries: Jennette's Year in Review
On the eve of 2017, Jennette was looking forward to a new life, unencumbered by caregiving, armed with a new set of choppers the doctors said she would never have. Sure, she missed her dad terribly, as she did her husband who had been her wingman and drinking buddy for over 30 years.
But now, she was set. Dad had left her a tidy sum in his will, and she had inherited all of his sunny Florida-themed white furniture. She had bought a new car, and had set herself up in a tidy little apartment on Kilborn Avenue, her little dream palace.
Jennette had survived her own personal war. In her late middle age, she worked two jobs because Roger was too sick to work anymore (largely due to a rum and Camels habit that would have put Hemingway to shame). Soon after she retired from her job as an executive assistant for Canada's electronic spy agency, she found herself out of both jobs -- her other job in a clothing store had been stolen away when retail went bust -- and so she became a full time caregiver to Roger after he spent months in a coma with a hole in his lungs from those damned Camels sitting on him.
When she wasn't schlepping Rog to the hospital and therapy, she was running the roads to care for good old dad who insisted she come to his condo and iron his sheets and make him a freezer full of dinners for the week.
Like all retired persons, she was too busy to take anytime for herself.
Jennette had also survived a bout of oral cancer, and had the battle scars to prove it.
A surgeon took out half of the inside of her mouth, along with most of her lower teeth after which she was given a clean bill of health. Against doctor's orders, she refused radiation, giving me an interesting plot twist I will share with you later.
So Jennette was, as they say, off to the races. She was hoping to meet a nice man, and had been communicating with an army fellow stationed in Afganistan. He had promised to come to Canada to marry her, and set up house with her in her nice and tidy little apartment. The fellow, with the lilting moniker of "Birdsong," had come into some money, and she had gotten herself a passport. Soon they would be together.
Mr. Birdsong had other plans, I'm afraid. He turned out to be an internet scammer who fleeced her for several thousand dollars before Jennette realized, with the help of moi, that he was not an American colonel but instead a Facebook catfish.
Facebookers! If you get a request from this dude -- coordinates here -- report him to Facebook. BTW, I contacted Facebook, and the bugger is still up there.
Moving on, Jennette had followed the doctor's advice, and went under the knife yet again, to have part of a flap reduced to allow her dentures to fit better. The operation was a complete success until it wasn't.
She called me one day to say that her jaw was changing. A visit to the surgeon confirmed that her cancer had returned.
Cancer has a way of ruining your plans especially when you have what the docs call a "smoker's tumor," a little fellow that acts like a thief in the night. His diabolic cells had been resting in the bottom of her mouth all along, and had sprung into life, I believe, while doctors were fiddling with her teeth and her mouth.
Ah, ah! Here I am, catch me if you can, he cried while the doctors were examining the wrong tissue.
It didn't take long for the thief to completely ruin her game, and she was diagnosed with Stage Four cancer. Before agreeing to undertake treatment, Jennette came with us to the cottage where she drank butter chicken and hot dogs, and copious amounts of hooch. She drew some new pleasure from a vape we had given her, and she spent a glorious week looking out onto the lake. She even tried the pedal boat, though we did go around and around a lot because her legs weren't working very well.
"Why didn't I do this before?" she asked during cocktail hour.
Still, she loved her time up at the lake, and vowed to return the next year. But we both knew the cottage wouldn't be on her itinerary.
In the meantime, we had a few laughs, and she even got to meet the comedian Ron James, as part of her very short bucket list.
What a time we had! She laughed til she bled. And that landed her the hospital whereshe spent three fun-filled weeks undergoing radiation. The cure was so successful, it blew her face up like a basketball. But at least it kept her symptoms under control.
On the positive side of the column, she was able to reconnect with her brother from whom she had become estranged after she married Roger.
Back in the real world, Jennette got worse, much worse, and we moved her to Hunt Club Manor, where she resided like a modern day queen until yesterday, two years nearly to the day she left the Ottawa hospital after her first bout of cancer.
The circle was complete. The little thief has done his duty.
She will be spending this New Year's Eve under the watchful eye of Elisabeth Bruyere, and her angels. Tonight while the rest of the world is doing champers and nibblies, she will be partaking in water and, hopefully, a snoot of vodka.
She has no plans for 2018. She knows better than to make plans anymore.
Unless, maybe Roger comes back into the picture. -- and then we're all in trouble.
Jennette has asked me to wish her many fans a better year ahead than the one she had last year. Hoist a tall one, in her honor.
And quit the damn cigarettes.