Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Jack and Jill Cancer Tragedy

with 5 comments

Support From Friends and Family

Support From Friends and Family

The world of cancer can really kick you in the teeth at times, the trick is to be able to bounce back and move forward but sometimes it is more difficult to rise and come up smiling when it belts you below the belt. The following story is of events that have overtaken a married couple who are close friends of my wife and I. It took me some time to choose to publish these events as it is such an overwhelming personal ordeal they are dealing with. I wrestled with my thoughts on the moral justification in making their ordeal public and now I have done so in the hope others may be inspired by their story. In the following events I have used the names of Jack and Jill to protect their privacy and as I write I am still wondering at times if all this is not just a bad dream.

Jack and Jill are now in their late sixties. A few years ago Jill was diagnosed with bowel cancer and was at the time successfully treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. A short time after Jill’s cancer treatment Jacks brother was also diagnosed with bowel cancer and he was also treated successfully with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. With all the health and medical issues that had suddenly descended on them Jack and Jill decided to retire, buy a caravan and join the grey nomads touring Australia.

About the time they bought the van Jack fell off a trestle and broke his leg, down toward the ankle so the grand Australian tour departure was put on hold until his leg healed. Eventually they got underway but just a couple of thousand kilometers into their trip Jack and Jill found themselves stuck in Townsville as Jack had developed an infection in the bone where he had originally broken the leg. Townsville is where my wife and I met this pair and we became firm friends. Jacks infection was such that the leg was invaded by a medical steel structure from knee to ankle with rods descending into the leg at various places to deliver the antibiotics needed to the bone. Jack also was treated in the hyperbaric chamber for two months to try to assist the healing. Jack endured nearly twelve months of treatments to try to beat the bone infection without success.

Late last year the medical specialists and Jack started discussing amputation of the leg as the final solution and while these discussions were going on Jack had a colonoscopy which led to biopsies and he was then also diagnosed with bowel cancer. Now Jack and the surgeons had two problems to deal with and a decision was made to have both the amputation of the leg plus the bowel resection done at the same time (a 12 hour operation.) Both of these procedures were completed early in March and Jack is doing OK. He faces a lengthy rehabilitation period for his leg and prosthesis followed by perhaps radiation and extensive chemotherapy for the cancer.

The cruncher to all this came to a head recently when Jill revealed that she had been re-diagnosed with the return of her bowel cancer which had now spread extensively to her liver. The doctors informed her it was incurable and terminal, she could only expect her time left to be between 12 and 14 months. Now Jill had been informed of this some time ago but decided to keep it to herself until Jack had gone through his ordeal. That last sentence says more about the love and respect that one human can hold for a loved one than any explanation I could give. They have offered Jill some strong chemotherapy, not as a cure but to help prolong life long enough for both of them to return to their home once Jack is stabilised. I shake my head with despair for my friends and wonder how these sort of events can overtake good peoples lives.

With Love from Friends

With Love from Friends

I offer the following verse I composed for them and anyone else out there who might find some comfort in these words. It was inspired by the words of Gordon Lightfoots haunting ballad called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” The lead line has haunted me for years “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours ?” Somehow the haunting returned and I built on it in my own words as the timing seemed just right for my friends.

Does Anyone Know Where The Love of God Goes?

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when a cancer turns your time left to hours?

In the dark and despair only faith can repair, what the verdict of cancer has soured.

But his love is still there in the fond memories we share, with the love-ones we see that surround us.

Those moments are there when the laughter rang out and the hugs and the kisses were about us.

The hard times and fears, the regrets and the tears, have been dealt with and left far behind us.

So does anyone know where the love of God goes? Well I think the answers not hidden.

Seek deep in your soul among your memories there and give thanks to what he has given.

Lee aka Popeye

5 Responses

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  1. A beautiful poem. I wonder if you would mind me reading it at our church’s Australia’s biggest Morning Tea this year? I have volunteered to speak at the event about all we went through in ’97 as I’m sure you too well remember. I am sorry to hear of your friends situation. Sometimes life is just not fair. I wonder, do you still believe the ‘everything happens for a reason’ story? Things like this really make me question it. Lots of love from your niece down south xo

    Megan Oliver

    1 April 2015 at 6:19 pm

  2. A very touching poem Pop and nicely dedicated. It is so hard sometimes to understand ‘Why’. The couple you wrote about are in my thoughts and prayers. Sending my love.


    1 April 2015 at 9:06 pm

    • Hey Megan: Thank you for your comment I am glad you liked my poem and of course you can use it as you wish. Everything I publish is public for use as people see fit. I put my heart and soul into stuff I try to present and I am happy for people if they can get something out of it all as long as it is for good use. Perhaps you might want to consider the stuff I published regarding my article “My God Box Adventure” I know I have received some great responses to that story and I still get peace of mind as I use the Box frequently and Jack and Jill are also part of my God Box.
      Yes I am still a believer more so than ever. Things happen to me from time to time that seem innocent at the times they occur only to form and make sense later down the track when their purpose is revealed…Amazing life this. 97 was rough but I can compare other years also that have been rough, the trick is in not loosing faith that life is much bigger than we can imagine. All my love to you, Tony and the boys.


      1 April 2015 at 10:27 pm

      • Thank you.
        Glad to hear you are still a believer. I am too. There is always a lesson to be learned.
        Great idea about the God Box example too. I think I will also use that example, thank you.
        Yes, you are right. 97 was just one of many years of highs and lows.
        Love to you both xo

        Megan Oliver

        3 April 2015 at 8:35 pm

    • Hey Wanni: Glad you liked it. You will have to let me know if Steve liked it also. Perhaps we are both on the road to find out. I will pass on your prayers to jack and Jill. All my Love.


      1 April 2015 at 10:29 pm

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