We’re writing because we feel the need to keep family and loved ones informed and up to date (as far as we are aware) regarding TJ’s current physical condition.
As you know, TJ was diagnosed two years ago with Naso-Pharangeal (Head and Neck) cancer. The doctors at that time concluded that the tumor was such that it was inoperable. They determined that the tumor may respond to an aggressive, new, treatment known as Chemo-Radiotherapy. TJ opted to go this route and we were there for him and with him every step of the way through this torturous journey. I have to tell you that during this time TJ more than ever became my teacher as I observed him undergoing this very difficult treatment with dignity and grace and with a minimum of complaining.
The good news for TJ, and for us, was that the three months of chemo-radiotherapy seemed to work as it was declared that the tumor had disappeared. We were all so happy..although it was not to last! In January of this year, TJ sensed that the cancer had returned. He finally went for a new diagnosis and it was determined that indeed that was the case. The tumor was, and is, considered inoperable because it is too close to a number of arteries making surgery too dangerous..
TJ has been in a lot of pain especially located in his head. Last month he chose to enter the Big Bend Hospice program. They are working with him to moderate his pain meds. He was a resident at the Hospice House for ten days. We frankly were not sure he would make it out of there. But, as they had indicated, the Hospice Docs were able to get TJ’s meds balanced and, as all of his vital signs were 1 “10″ out of “10″ they shipped him home to his house in Seminole Manor.
Now, let us tell you about TJ’s house! He lives there with his roommate D.J. whom we have officially elevated to “Angel” status. The house is on a half-acre corner lot lorded over by some of the most majestic live oak trees you have ever seen. The house is always well kept and pleasant to be in! The “guys” have four chickens: Adrienne, Teresa, Kelly & Mandy. The chickens are named after TJ and DJ’s ex-girlfriends. They get lots of eggs from them every day. Although I’ve heard that DJ refuses to eat an egg from the chicken named “Mandy” (his ex), I am not too sure how he can tell? TJ has become a master quiche baker and we have to admit they are delicious.
We had a huge party for TJ last Saturday afternoon and evening at his house. Georjean ordered a big tent with tables and chairs. Scott and Mayea Buchanan fried up some of the best catfish and mullet you have ever tasted? DJ grilled and barbqued chicken. Georjean mixed up some mean batches of Margaritas. Lots and lots of folks showed up and it was clear that TJ was really happy..We told TJ we were going to tell lots of stories at his celebration..he responded, “well, just tell the good ones”. And we did!
The bottom line to all this missive is to tell you that, while TJ has a grave illness, we do not know how long he has left to be with us. As a matter of fact, none of us really know how long we have left.
This past week Georjean and I took a much needed break and went down to a house on the Ichetucknee River with friends Julie and Kelly. We spend our days lazily drifting down the crystal clear waters of this ancient waterway. We heard that this morning, our dear friend Lucia went to visit TJ. She reports that TJ looked good and was up and around messing with the chickens when she arrived for her visit. That’s how it goes most days, some good, some not so good.
The big takeaway we have experienced is to tell everyone we know when we see them that we love them…over and over again…I hope you don’t get sick and tired of hearing it either because we…well..love you. You have been an incredibly important part of our lives along the way. We couldn’t imagine traveling our path without you sharing it with us…although we don’t get to see each other often enough we keep you close to us in our hearts and we know we are kept closely in yours!