This piece was written by my husband, Peter Marmorek, when I was unable to do my own writing. I have included it here as it is part of the story.
December 24, 2017
Hello dear friends and family,
Peter here, Christmas Eve day. I wanted to send an update to you, as so many have been writing with messages of loving support to Diana and me, and there are more cracks for the messages to slip through than there usually are. My apologies, as always, if you get multiple copies of this message or if you’ve already heard some of what follows.
Diana had a 2 cm tumour removed from her left occipital lobe on Friday, Dec 15th. She came home from the hospital on Tuesday, and has been resting here and recovering ever since. But she’s lost a lot: the lower right side of her field of vision, most of her reading ability, much of her computer /phone ability. Logical sequencing of tasks is still problematic as well. Physically she has difficulty manoeuvring, as objects will jump in and out of her perception. And there’s a new wave of side effects from the new set of drugs that she’s trying to cope with.
On Friday, we met a brain radiation doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital who said that he expected most of what she has lost will come back in the next few weeks, which was very cheering. He gave us the stats on probability of recurrent brain cancer which were pretty depressing, as the breast cancer has metastasized and its seeds will probably grow elsewhere. (This isn’t certain, as the pathology report hasn’t come back yet, and there is a small chance that this is an unrelated third cancer.) We’ve also met with occupational therapists who will gradually become part of the rehabilitation.
Diana’s spirit and emotional affect are still recognizably Diana. She’s certainly depressed by the sudden diminishment in what she can do, and increase what she can’t but she remains fully present in the strange new world into which she’s been beamed. We did a Solstice ritual together, hoping that we have moved through the darkest time and that the light will return here as in the heavens. Yesterday she walked to our local library to return some books (1200 metres), holding on to my arm. I had thought it too far for a first walk, but she wanted to do it, and managed to. (Library was closed, of course, which meant we didn’t have to pay the fines. We’ll see if they track us down.) And last night she watched a movie Wilderbeasts, and was able to follow it. (Nice New Zealand scenery, basically harmless plot).
We are hugely grateful for the offers of help from our friends, both of food (thanks, but I love cooking and it’s useful therapy) and dog-walking (Rui is a constant solace, but particularly on weekends I’m happy to share the walks with anyone around.) My brother has lengthened his Toronto visit, which allows him to offer support to Mom, and therefore lighten the load on me. And Amy, Wayne, Laraine, Mary, Chris….so many kind and loving friends who I’m afraid I’ve omitted. Thank you all.
Many of you have asked how I’m doing, and I guess the answer would be that I’m generally managing. It is a challenge to discover how to navigate this new normal. I’m realizing how much the trajectory of our lives is going to be very different from what we had thought it would be, barely two weeks ago. But the future is even more opaque than usual, as we wait to see which of the lost skills and perceptual abilities return. I’ve cut back on a lot, but am trying to keep exercising and staying healthy. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing well, sometimes it just feels overwhelming. In those moments I try and narrow focus, (What do I have to do in the next five minutes?) which helps.