English: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy chamber for...

English: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy chamber for a single diving casualty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Usually I can’t wait to get to my iMac and dash off another blog pointing out the dangers of the Obama administration. Writing blogs helps me keep my balance and cool as Mr. Alinsky’s Chicago acolytes work to drag America down to their level.

Today as I stare at the monitor, I muse about  12 years ago when I was in a very different place. I was still recovering from prostate cancer in Florida. Both the prostate and the cancer were gone and  I was feeling good.  Looking in the mirror as I shaved, I noticed a lump on the side of my neck. I had seen it earlier but now  it was bigger. Big enough  to see my doctor. My wife’s father was a doctor and her mother a nurse so there is no room for procrastination  about medical issues in my family.

After brief examinations by two different doctors, the Jacksonville medical world said cancer. Terminal without treatment and possibly with. Head and neck cancer. Specifically, a 3 centimeter by 3 centimeter  by 2 centimeter tumor on the base of my tongue that had spread to the lymph nodes in my neck. The Jacksonville doctors offered no hope. My wife contacted the internist in Washington, D.C., who had saved us before. Three days later he had put together a dream team of leading specialists in chemotherapy, neck surgery, tooth removal and radiation. We were in our car headed to Washington with our Bouvier des Flandres and African Grey.

Radiation mask used in treatment of throat cancer

Radiation mask used in treatment of throat cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was told the odds of a cure were tiny but the radiologist had researched the latest protocols and pulled one off his printer several days later on my birthday. The others involved agreed it was my best and only shot.  I would have radiation daily for eight weeks (7,000 rads), along with simultaneous chem therapy one day each of those weeks.  First I had to have a biopsy, then before any treatment could begin six perfectly good teeth had to be removed, and because I would lose the ability to swallow shortly after the radiation treatments began, a gastric tube was implanted in May to come out in November.  After the radiation and chemo ended, there was a couple of weeks for a break, which we spent in Florida, and then I had a modified neck resection. There were tanks in front of the doctor’s office in Washington when I saw him on Sept. 12.  At the beginning of it all, the radiologist told me the treatment would be the hardest thing I  had ever experienced.  He was right although I didn’t believe him at the time.  No one mentioned that I would need 40 days of two-hour treatments in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber afterwards to restore the heavily damaged marrow in my jaw bone.

A wonderful couple who were our long-time friends gave us their guest cottage for as long as we needed — we were there for three months. Who else would have taken us all in?  The last five weeks we stayed with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.

The treatment was very hard on me, my-never-give-up wife, and all those who loved us. At times I wanted to quit. My body weight kept going down and my muscles weakened. I had plenty of time to read but no focus to do so. TV helped pass the time. Programming didn’t matter. If I could never swallow again, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take more treatments, especially the radiation. The only way I managed the daily treatment was to recognize the beauty and glory of each day. I swore, if I lived through the cancer and the treatment, I would for the rest of my life be aware of the blessings each day brings.

For those of you fighting through cancer and the effects of the treatment, take it one day at a time. Set aside a period each day to pray and give thanks for what your days have brought you and promise yourself you will recognize the joy of each day. They are all good.

by the author of the Jack Brandon thriller series.


Filed under Barry Kelly, cancer, chemotherophy, General, Progressives, radiation

4 responses to “EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS 45

  1. Beth Ramsey

    I rember those days Dad. I put up a pic of the Dali Lama at work and prayed for peace for you but always knew your strength. When I visited in Mclean the image of you in bed worried me to no end. But I felt in my heart you would beat this because you are just that strong. Thanks to Joanie for loving you pushing you and really for holding on in such a hard time. You always remind me that strength is key and it comes from inside out. Love Beth

  2. Coleman

    Thanks for sharing this with me. I knew it was bad and your chances were slim and none. I know our Father and your Dad were with you throughout. We cousins have had our share of problems, you even more so, and we persevere.

  3. What a success story, and inspiration to NEVER GIVE UP!!

  4. John Nugent

    Dear Barry: What a testament to your character and internal strength. John

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