Where does one begin after an extended absence? I de-Christmafied my house this past weekend, so maybe I should start with some reflections on Christmas. As luck would have it, this doubles as an update on my uncle Pete…
Over the past several months, Pete has been unable to keep food in his stomach apart from white rice, oatmeal and nutritional supplement drinks like Ensure. It was balancing a bowl of oatmeal while climbing the stairs that caused Pete quite a tumble back in November, thus halting his chemotherapy to allow his wounds time to heal. Given that hiatus and a change in medication, Pete’s stomach has slowly stabilized. At this point, any improvement is welcomed for his ever-shrinking build.
The temperamental stomach contributed to my parents hosting dinner this year instead of breaking in my new home—Pete had expressed to my mom that he felt more comfortable vomiting at her house if he needed to. Though it might sound a bit strange, it was somehow heartwarming to hear his confession; an odd little reminder of the bond and love known only with family.
To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, Christmas came just the same. We were prepared for Pete to have an unpleasant time, what with his stomach and witnessing our gluttonous feasting. But we were all overjoyed to see him in good humor and prepared to eat bits of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and part of a roll. The ham was unpalatable for him, but he managed tiny helpings of the rest. In typical Pete fashion, we were treated to the warning that he sounds like the creature from Jeepers Creepers when his body decides it’s time to evict a meal. Sure it’s gross, but it’s also pretty darn funny and that’s just Pete.
We didn’t exchange any gifts with Pete and Sherry—his $400/month seizure medication put the kibosh on that—and yet, I don’t think I’ve ever had a better Christmas. While I can’t yet fathom the possibility of this having been our last Christmas together, I know the odds are stacked steeply against us. If this was the last, it was a mighty fine one.
Though Pete’s brain tumors are under control, the various other tumors are unrelenting. We should know next month if the oncologists feel chemotherapy is the best treatment going forward.
I’d also like to ask that you keep in mind my aunt Kelly as she battles her relapsed breast cancer. It’s easy to think of breast cancer as a known quantity with guaranteed remission, but the reality is that it’s never a guarantee. We continue to covet your prayers for my family.