Tenderness (1. gentleness and kindness)

Tenderness, that’s what I feel in my heart recalling saying our final farewell to Peach. He left this world so sweetly and gently. It was a privilege to be his caretaker and friend for the last 14 years. It was hard to say goodbye, but the tenderness of all the wonderful moments we shared lingers and makes my heart heavy. His brother Mango misses him, too. I, we, loved him.

I’m also feeling tenderness for my Dad today. It’s his birthday. He would have turned 99 years old. He passed away 10 years ago, just shy of his 89th birthday. He was a cowboy and proudly said once, many years ago, that he even jogged in cowboy boots. He, too, had cancer and endured oral chemo. Among many other things, he was funny, charismatic, handsome and tender. Happy trails, Dad. Happy Trails.

Life is overflowing with tenderness, especially the tenderness shared by all of you.

Tenderness (2. sensitivity to pain)

And then there is the other side of tenderness that I experience everyday as a cancer patient enduring the side effects of chemotherapy.

Tenderness of my fingers and toes, my constantly and tender runny nose, occasionally (thank goodness) my mouth, and of course the sometimes painful emotions I experience that are typically short lived.

Both of those definitions of tenderness unfold on my monthly visits with Dr. Rugo. I feel deep tenderness for all the caregivers I come in contact with. I feel extremely fortunate to be at UCSF and the kindness and caring they exude. But the painful tenderness I experience is when I’m told the mass isn’t shrinking, but it isn’t growing (as far as we know) either. It’s the pain I feel when my tumor marker continues to increase. It all hurts.

On my last visit on April 13th, I asked how much longer I’d be on Xeloda? The answer was when it stops working or my side effects become too toxic. That was painful to hear. On my next visit on May 17 & 18, I’ll get my quarterly CT scans and that should give us a better perspective on whether any progress has been made.

Until then, I tenderly (the good definition) thank you for all your support. Even when we haven’t spoken or seen each other in a long time, I feel it…all day, every day.

There is nothing as strong as tenderness, And nothing as tender as true strength. —Saint Francis de Sale