The Call of the Canyon

April 2, 2012

Gracious Living Day by DaySix years ago I was going through treatments for breast cancer. Every patient handles chemotherapy in their own way – and my way was to become very, very sick.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

I felt so terribly nauseous from the chemical combination of my regimen that I could eat almost nothing. Eating nothing resulted in my loosing twenty five pounds in just a few weeks. Loss of weight caused feelings of exhaustion and disabling weakness, so I spent days hibernating on the couch, hardly moving at all. Lack of any kind of exercise allowed two blood clots to form – one in my arm and one in my leg – and almost finish me off.

It was not a happy time for my family or me, and sometimes I wonder how we made it through.

But like my step-mother, who came to help us out that harsh winter taught us, you take one day and deal with it, and then you deal with the next day. And if a day seems too long a period of time, too difficult and insurmountable, then just try to get through the morning, and think no further.

That winter, I usually felt spent and anxious by early evening, and since going to sleep frightened me, night provided little comfort.

My family and friends each had their unique methods of distracting me from my misery, of cheering me on, and comforting me. Each, in their own way, was my guiding angel.

My brother-in-law Joe, sat with me many times through those evenings, while the others were busy cleaning up after dinner, and he told me stories that he knew I wanted to hear.

Everyone in my family knows of my great love of travel. So, to spur me on, to get me to fight, Joe told me in great detail how he would take me on a great adventure – the American West, to the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had been there, both of us wanted to go there, and so, he said, I needed to get better so that we could go and see this magical place.

I remember making a pact, first with myself, then with Joe, that I would see the Grand Canyon. Its red, sunlit cliffs beckoned me through my illness like a beacon of light and goodness and beauty of this world that I still needed to see. When I felt I couldn’t lift my head, I thought of those sharp cliffs.

By early spring, my chemo regimen had changed, and my appetite started to improve.  My strength slowly came back and I began taking daily walks. My family cheered me on.

Maybe I will see the Grand Canyon! I thought.

Spring arrived and I slowly healed. I persevered through chemo and tests revealed that my body responded well in fighting the tumors. I recovered from a number of surgeries. I regained my strength and my optimism. I started turning towards life again.

But neither Joe, nor I, have seen the Grand Canyon yet. Something-life-always seems to get in the way.

The canyon is still waiting – patient, ageless, beautiful. And we are still planning to visit. Soon!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Harrison April 3, 2012 at 10:03 am

I have been to the canyon twice once with a buddy of mine for a couple days once with my lovely wife Janice and our two great sons Chris & Ben. I can tell you from experience it is an amassing specticale to behold. Standing there thinking this used to be a stream is absolutely unbelievable. I know you & Joe will get there and I promise it will be worth the wait. P.S. Thanks for meeting us for breakfast it was glorious.


Liliana April 3, 2012 at 10:07 am

It was wonderful seeing you and Janice, Dave!


Jeff April 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

We both seem to be in similar places – and such an odd juxtapostion of time you gave. You get thru a day at a time or an hour at a time – yet your recovery has to be thought of in terms of weeks and months. I find myself telling cancer patients this all the time – no one is prepared for how long recovery takes.

But you do recover and life does go on. I’ve got my own plans to have lunch in Paris with my wife one day – and as soon as my personal economy improves, I might exercise that option! And having that option is a wonderful thing!

Onward to more adventures!

– J.


Liliana April 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I hope that you and your wife have a glorious lunch in Paris – soon! Wishing you all the best.


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