Dan's Blog

Living with Cancer
Monday, June 25, 2007

My father came home from the hospital today, 148 days after surgery for colon cancer. There were complications, lots of complications, but Dad has made it home.

Yeah! Dad.  Welcome  home!

If you were to ask my father what is one of the most important things he has done he will answer that getting home; being with Mom, sleeping in his bed, visiting with neighbors, is number one on the list. He is in his own environment now, away from potentially fatal hospital virus, fungi, bacteria and institutional meals. He is with his own germs; those his body has long ago provided him protection from, and with meals provided his loving wife.

Your home assumes a lot of importance if you are ill, especially if you have a life-threatening disease like cancer. I know because it happened to me.

I was 40 when I got the news. I went through it all; poisoned, burned and mutilated (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery for the un-initiated) for months. Cancer treatment wears you down, you die a little bit each day, and after living in pain for a few months death comes to sit behind you. It waits, knowing you will have to decide whether you want to struggle on or turn and embrace it, ending the suffering.

My struggle was aided by my family, faith AND home environment.
With pain as a constant presence in my life the quest for COMFORT became a requirement, not an option. I speak of comfort in the inclusive sense of religious, spiritual, personal and physical. The author Reynolds Price wrote in his book A Whole New Life that the one thing a cancer patient CANNOT have is his old life back. We have to search for a new life and, when I suffered through my illness my sense of homeplace sustained me.

Wrens nesting close to the house
Japanese furin (glass and metal chimes) placed around the home singing in the wind
The rising steam from a hot shower
Sunlight streaming through a window on a cold winters’ day

These small things helped me create my new life, one much more sensitive to the space I call home. I started reading more about houses, function, efficiency, comfort and design. This learning process continues today. It’s one reason I get a little too preachy when explaining how homes work to my clients here in Atlanta. That’s a part of the home inspection I just can’t help getting worked up about.

The loving couple. Mom held up well through it all.
The loving couple. Mom held up well through it all.

For those of us touched by cancer perhaps it’s time for a reassessment. As a survivor I can tell you that a person who has the disease wants a CURE, not an extension of suffering. We have been working on this problem for a long time. It sure would be nice to export a cure for cancer to the rest of the world. Not having to be poisoned, burned, and mutilated would be a nice thing too. 

Please take the time to read this article: "Why We're Losing The War On Cancer [And How To Win It]"

If you are interested in an insight into how a home might be designed for COMFORT try this:


Stay Healthy,

Dad could not drink wine his first visit back home so Mom made him a glass
 of Rasberry Cola. Cheers!
Dad could not drink wine his first visit back home
so Mom made him a glass of Rasberry Cola.


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