Friends ask me, “How is Janice? How is she doing? Is she feeling better?” I came to say “She has good days,” which was vague enough and still true.
When I was at the clinic with her if she’d slept well she often started with yoga at 8am, very gentle and easy with lots of blankets and pillows in front of a fireplace. Then sometimes she’d sit in on a raw-food class or get a shot of fresh wheat grass juice. Raw foods and juices are key to this approach to treatment for cancer. At ten-thirty or eleven she might have an intravenous infusion, maybe insulin-potentiated therapy—the latest chemotherapy technique—or a supermega dose of vitamin C or selenite or whatever the medical team suggests and she decides is worth the always hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars such concoctions cost. Her first week cost $6,000, the second was only $5,100.
I think I know what people mean when they ask how she is, but her illness doesn’t seem to lend itself to easy judgments. She has easy days, when she only spits up seven or eight times. She has hard days, when she’s too weak to sit up.
I know how she was three weeks ago. She looked pretty good my last morning there, but she was gonna have a physically more demanding day than she’d had lately, because I was leaving for the airport and her old friend Kathy wouldn’t get there until early evening. So when the shuttle came to get me Janice looked pretty good—well-rested and confident.
We talk and text, so I have reason to believe that nothing major has happened to or for her as of this writing. She’s in pain and has little energy. She has growths in many areas of her body that seem to be asserting their presence less than before—her bad numbers are down. She has a pic—a long-term IV apparatus—in her arm and an open wound in her chest, and I think she needs good cheer more than anything else. You can imagine what it’s like trying to keep a positive attitude under such a circumstance, and still that’s what she’s got to do. Do you know any good jokes?
We’re all of us learning as we go, and the past few years have let me appreciate life and Janice in new ways after all this time, and one thing I know is I don’t know how she is unless I’m with her, which I will be by the time you read this.