When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Family support t-shirts

This is difficult to write. Because writing about it means I have to think about it instead of distracting myself as I have been lately.

My sister’s husband Ron has brain cancer. He’s 49 years old, and he’s been fighting this for ten years now. He’s had two surgeries to remove the tumor. This year he’s been on oral chemo, then IV chemo. He’s suffered dozens of seizures, depression, blackouts, and lots of other side effects from the drugs and from the tumor.  He had to quit his job about a month ago. He was preparing for the beginning of his radiation treatments next week, but he had a bad seizure yesterday and is now in the Intensive Care unit on oxygen. His tumor has been growing and inserting itself further into his brain recently, despite intensive chemo. We’re waiting on results from yet another MRI today to find out what’s going on.

This experience has turned Ron and Deb’s lives upside down. My sister and her adult daughters make sure someone is always with Ron in case he has a seizure. She says she feels like she’s on high alert constantly, and only after he goes to sleep at night can she let her guard down and try to rest herself.  Not only is she the sole source of income for the family now, but the hospital where Ron is being treated is 80 miles from home. Every time he has treatments, she or one of her girls has to take off work an entire day. Her oldest daughter is a nurse working full time as well as raising a 10-month old baby. Her youngest daughter is a full-time college student and working full-time too. They are all being run ragged by this whole experience. Physically and emotionally.

Ron at Amber's wedding in 2007

I know it’s futile to say this, but this just is not fair. Ron and Deb are so much in love and have been through so much in the past 27 years. They’ve raised two beautiful and strong girls who remain very close to them. Ron and Deb are two of the nicest people I’ve ever known, and I don’t say that just because I love them. I say it because it’s true. They both bend over backwards to help their friends and family. Before Ron got sick he could be counted on to spend all his free time lending a hand to anyone who asked him. Deb used to complain that she couldn’t get him to do stuff at home because he was always helping someone else. But I know she took pride in how he could do just about anything he set his mind to.

Now his personality has changed. I miss the wise-cracking, funny guy who always cooked us breakfast when we visited. The man who looked at my sister with so much love in his eyes.  It breaks my heart to know what my sweet little sister is going through right now. She should NOT have to have this pain in her life.  She. Should. Not.

I’ve just realized how angry I am about the whole thing. I guess I’ve already been through the denial stage, and am moving on through the grieving process as Ron’s disease progresses. I remember just a few years ago the doctors said his tumor wasn’t life-threatening. They said he’d have more problems from the drug side-effects than from the tumor. Fast-forward to today, when it seems things are spiraling out of control. How did this happen?

Ron and Amber have always been best buds! (1989)

Our whole family is sick with worry for Ron and Deb and their two girls. I live 300 miles away and feel helpless to do anything for them. I’m afraid to think about the future. I don’t even want to think about tomorrow. I worry that my sister will collapse from the stress of caring for him and trying to pay the mortgage too. I worry about my parents being upset. They love Ron dearly too, and it just kills them to see Deb going through this.

I know this blog is supposed to be about the healing power of nature, but I find it difficult to think about that right now. Ironically, this is just when I could really use a day on the lake or a long hike.  Now that I think about it, maybe it’s time I took a trip down there to take my sister for a walk in the woods…..I’m sure she could use it.

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8 Responses to When Bad Things Happen to Good People

  1. Kim,
    I don’t think there is anything anyone can say at a time like this, except “I’m so sorry.” Trying to give advice isn’t just useless, it’s irritating, because none of us know what to do. I’ve never met you, but from your writing I can tell that you have a sensitive soul and that must make all this even harder for you. I can only wish the best for you and your family. I don’t know, but I expect that Ron will (or has already) come to peace with this before the rest of you.

    I’ll be thinking about you.


    • Kim says:

      Randy, thank you for your kind words. I traveled to Ohio today so I can spend a few days here at the hospital with them, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Watching my sister and her daughters trying to communicate with Ron and seeing their faces when he can’t respond…it hurts. But he’s still in there…I can see it in his eyes. And soon he’ll be able to talk to us again, I just know it.

  2. Sharon says:

    Dear Kim,
    I’m so sad to hear about Ron. Deb and your whole family are going through very tough times now and need all the prayers and support they can get. Sounds like they’ve been through hell. I’ll keep them all in my prayers.

  3. I am so, so sorry you are having to go through this. Cancer is a horrible thing.

  4. As I tell my kids life just isn’t fair…I’m really sorry Kim, wish there was something to say to make it better, there just isn’t…

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