Thursday, 26 November 2015


I had never felt pain like it before. I was pretty sure it was beyond anything I could have imagined. It couldn't possibly get worse. 

It got worse. 

No surprise really. The last chemotherapy was sometime in July. Some people can tell you exactly what day, the hour of the last drip.  Not us. Not our thing. 

The point is this. Without medical intervention there was nothing left but for the mesothelioma in my abdomen, lungs and lymph nodes, free and unrestricted to do its thing. Four in the morning.  Agony. Despair. I am not exaggerating. New pain, new beyond anything I've ever imagined possible. 

People tell me I look pretty good (considering). The brackets are mine; its kind of implied and frankly, not easily hidden. Considering...a one year prognosis and we're 11 months in...yeah you're damned right I look good!  (Considering). Truth is I'm into big time double-digit weight loss. I weighed now what I weighed in grade 9, gaunt visage and unnatural skinniness notwithstanding. 

The pain took more out of me than I could have imagined possible. It is truly debilitating. For a moment, just for a moment, even hope was briefly lost. I didn't give up on hope, I just couldn't remember where I'd left it...St Anthony!  A little help here!  

All is lost if one abandon hope. I didn't, I just lost it for a time. I can see how that could stick. 

Pain is Manageable
OK, enough. One does not have to live in pain as one lives the next stage of life, as one experiences end of life. I hope this is the one thing you'll remember from this; pain is manageable. There is no lack of dignity in palliative care, in fact for me there has been a tremendous amount of grace and dignity.  It is the very rare cancer patient whose pain cannot be managed. We are making headway and my days are not racked with pain.  For now we have the right cocktail of pain meds, and that cocktail is revisited as needed; when pain creeps back into my day. It's not ok. We address it immediately. 

Hospice care for Canadians who need it is essential.  The arguments in favour of physician assisted suicide are pretty damned close to those for decent, responsible and affordable palliative care.  A voice in the treatment of a life threatening illness. To die as comfortably as possible. To not extend life unreasonably; to not die with tubes; to not die alone; to die at home, to not die in a hospital, to die in a Hospice setting...where available.  

That someone is listening. That someone hears me...

In December 2014 Jeremy Tyrrell was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a disease considered to be incurable. He has already quietly outlived the initial prognosis of several months and attributes it to the love of God, the prayers of friends and family, and the wonder of traditional modern medicine.