GTPTOH – Glen Thomas Path to Perfect Health (https://gtptoh.blogspot.com/ if you are interested in that journey) –
That was the name of Glen’s blog that he started in 2008 when he received his cancer diagnosis. He started off as the sole author and as he went further into treatment, I took over. Luckily for his readers, he renewed his writings as he was “clearing” the fog of cancer treatment. I’ve been thinking about his blog a lot in the past few days. Here’s why..
You’ve probably figured out that we are not in Europe. After our week+ in Paris with Blair, we went to Nice where we regrouped and decided that we needed to get home. And still…we spent a week in Nice. Or I should say that I spent a week in Nice because Glen was never able to leave the apartment. Glen is the master traveler planner, even when he’s not at his physical best and he booked our flights (first class all the way thankfully – not sure what the outcome had been if we had to travel like mortals) and we got home after two long days. Home is always a welcome place to be when you feel like crap. And trust me, he felt like crap.
For those who don’t know, his cancer (2008) required intense radiation to his throat/neck (plus two different chemos) and as a result, his swallow function has been steadily decreasing, but in recent months it has plummeted. Thus he wasn’t eating much (it was already a liquid diet) and his strength waned to dangerous lows. As Glen is known for his independence and ability to be in control, he wanted to give himself a week plus to see if he could get himself fed and put some weight on. I wasn’t the only one who thought that might not be the best idea, but you know…a wife is just a wife.
Our good friend and fellow survivor, Karyn Kessler came over to visit a couple days after we got home. A little background, when she received her diagnosis a few years ago, knowing Glen’s experience, she came to him for advice. I have a vivid memory of where we sat on the couch when he told her that she HAD to get connected to UCSF. She took his advice. So last weekend when she sat on the same cushion, on the same couch a few years later and saw his condition, she looked him in the eyes, reminded him of their mutual trust and told him in no uncertain terms that he HAD to go to UCSF now, not in another week. Bless her. He listened. Full circle. So he’s been at UCSF since Monday and of course, he’s getting incredible care. He has received a permanent feeding tube and I’m going to let him tell you the rest of the story when he can because…he’s the best storyteller.
But before I go…I have to share something I ran across a couple months ago that has stuck with me. I only have pieces of it…but the pieces stuck and I’m going to share my interpretation of it with you.
Going back a bit, I think that when we were in Canterbury, I talked/wrote about my religious thoughts or better…thoughts on religion. They’re pretty loose and likely not super traditional. I think that I wrote that nature, the out of doors, provided my sense of “religion” or my place for collecting that sense of peace that others find in a place like a church, a mosque, or a temple. I have often thought…If/when I come up against a real life trial…what will give me the strength to see it through? The author, Annie Lamont gives me some insight that makes sense to me.
I recently ran across her writing about prayer. I believe that she has a whole book on this topic – Help, Thanks, Wow – Three Essential Prayers. I haven’t read it and I don’t know anything about her religious beliefs or background, but her thinking (as I interpret it from an interview that I read) resonates with me.
She says that help is is the hardest prayer because you are admitting defeat. You are surrendering. You are admitting that you’ve run out of ideas or answers. Help is a powerful four letter word.
Thanks is the prayer of relief that help is on the way. It’s that feeling that you don’t have to do it alone; that you (finally) caught a break. Thank you is the longer version of the second prayer, but thanks is a worthy prayer.
Wow is the praise prayer. The prayer where we are finally speechless. The prayer of wonder. The prayer of awe. Wow.
And that brings me back to Glen.
First – Help. We had run out of answers and options. We needed help. He got big help from Karyn. (Or she gave him a big kick in the arse which is often the most efficient form of help!) He is getting help from the miracle workers at UCSF. Glen’s also getting help from all of you; he’s being lifted by all of the texts, calls, thoughts and prayers of his friends and family. We feel the love and the support – the help.
Thanks – Relief is in process – it’s on the way. Glen is at the place that he says “gave him life” and he completely entrusts his health, his life to the caregivers here at UCSF. We are incredibly thankful for the care he is receiving. We have a road ahead of us and it will be bumpy, but there will continue to be relief and a full life.
Wow – We are in awe of the professionals that provide care for their patients. They are true angels on earth. We are in awe of you, of our friends and family who stay in touch with us, who lift our spirits, who make us cry (in a good way) and who give us strength, hope and love (and even a bed :-)). This is yet another Wow moment of our life.
And nature, you ask? My church?…You won’t believe the view out Glen’s window. For now, it’s enough.