My husband, Jon, and I are dancers. At our old gym, there was ballroom dancing class, so we decided to learn. We learned the Waltz, Cha-Cha, East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing, our favorite one. Then about seven years ago, a good friend introduced us to instructor Kyle Patel in Kansas City. The rest is a love story of dance. Since then we have competed in San Diego, CA, Dallas, TX, Tampa, Fl, Tulsa, OK and our favorite, Midwest Westie Fest, in Kansas City. The last time we danced together was New Years Eve, two days before his surgery.
I tell you this because dancing is how Jon and I cope while fighting this disease. We teach cancer patients and caregivers how to dance at a local gym one night a week. It reminds us how to enjoy life and how to not let cancer consume us. It’s a way of healing emotionally and spiritually. Jon says that he does not have cancer on the dance floor, and his plan is to dance until the music stops. He simply has the most positive attitude. He believes in living and not being defeated.
Our battle started in August 2012 when we traveled from Kansas City to Minneapolis for our daughter’s wedding. Jon did not feel well at rehearsal dinner, so my brother-in-law took him to the emergency room. They found cancer in his liver, but he kept that a secret and instead told everybody, including me, that it was gallstones. He didn’t want to ruin the fun. After returning home, he told me he had cancer and we have been on roller coaster ride ever since.
Jon has stage IV colon cancer. He received chemo every other Wednesday. While he was responding, it has now been about 8 weeks with no chemo and his liver is not doing well. January second was supposed to be a simple laparoscopic procedure to remove his appendix. However, a blockage was found and a colon resection was done. Due to complications, he is still in the hospital (It is January 27th), and this is why his chemo treatments have ceased. While he’s recovering, we have also had to stop our dance lessons. As soon as he’s well, though, we’ll continue to heal through dance.
His birthday is on the 30th and I wish so badly that he could come home. See, being a caregiver is difficult because there is only one of me. I can’t do it all by myself. I recently went to some caregiver support groups at Gilda’s Club and luckily Jon and I have made some great friends through dancing. Those friends have stayed with Jon when I have to work. A good friend, Steve, has even taken up putting on Jon’s compression hose because I can’t get them on him. That’s a friend. You cannot take this roller coaster ride alone. I cope by taking walks with our dog, Arcade who is the biggest help to Jon coping, I think. Arcade will lie next to Jon for hours when he does not feel good. Dogs are smart animals. They know just when you need a little extra support or love.
To me, Get Your Rear in Gear means just do it! Make a list. Find a doctor that says you can do this. Don’t give up! If plan a does not work, go to plan B. Never let your rear stop fighting and never stop fighting to make a difference. My team got the trophy for the “Largest Team” at the Get Your Rear in Gear – Kansas City race in 2012. We will not stop fighting and hope you won’t either!