Ken did it well. Many marveled at just how well he did do it, and wondered just how he could. The sounding of his bell had been as strident and startling as it could be for anyone. One day he was completely well, a man of 55, actively engaged in life, family and work, and the next he was learning he had a stage IV high-grade lymphoma threatening his life in short order. He marshaled the stamina to endure surgery and aggressive chemotherapy chasing a cure and was rapidly rewarded with a complete remission. But it didn’t last long. ....

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The work of the first stretch and the near corner are long past. The legal and financial issues long since resolved (or should be!). Anger, denial, depression, and bargaining have long ago been hurtled or abandoned. The charades of your life (we all have them) have hopefully been revealed through backstretch reflections.  Wounds have been uncovered, healing has begun, strained relationships are mending and new hopes for the next generation transmitted.

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When your last remission comes to an end and you accept that there is no more treatment worth taking, you’re on the homestretch. There is little telling how long it will last - could be weeks or maybe months, unlikely to be days or years. You don’t have to have figured it all out; you just have to have admitted that you can’t.

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23 - HOMESTRETCH HOLIDAY OPTION – start considering it now

Cancer rarely takes a life suddenly, so most everyone will get a homestretch but few recognize when they are on it. No one looks forward to it, but if run well, it can be an extraordinary time that no one would want to miss. You can get up from the table after the main course, but why skip dessert if you don’t have to. 

C - Caregiver Role Expanded


Recruit others to read in this book about the issues patients encounter coming off the starting line and through the near corner so you all can help your patient deal with feelings of denial, fear and anger by asking questions as well as being a sounding board. Some disappear into themselves and a black hole of sour feelings and need to be drawn out to understand and process all they are feeling. Help them put a face on their fears (faces of the dragon) to give them a  target to deal with.  Keep your fears to yourself, they don't need them.

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