Monday, January 16, 2017

Returing from the Dark Side of the Moon.

Dear Friends: For those still praying for, thinking of, or standing by, a kind of report of things as I am on the way to recovery from the treatment.

I last wrote a “status report” on November 29th. My sense then was that I was going “behind the moon” meaning that communications would become more and more difficult as the treatment and its effects began to overwhelm my ability to do much more than make it from day to day. 

I was about right, although I had no sense of how tough it was going to be.  For all intents and purposes I have been absent as a person from about the first week of December until the first week of January. The cumulative effect of the radiation and chemo treatments crested about a week after the end of treatment (December 19). I ended up in hospital from December 18 to 22, with a salt deficiency and related miseries.

Christmas was a kind of marker that things were beginning to turn slightly better. Being with family and back at my Boston home (Matt and Kellee’s) helped a lot. But there was no food by mouth, no taste, an inability to speak much, and strange dreams.  The dreams were an odd addition to the effects.

I tend to dream with some story-line, with a kind of beginning and end, and certainly with a sense of difference between begin awake and asleep. But for a while I was drifting in and out of a dream state and waking state without much changes between one and the other, and the dreams themselves were of bleak dry places and pointless wonderings. I became quite worried (when I was fully awake) that I was slipping into another world.

All of that broke one night when after dreaming this pointless dream yet again I woke up with a start and thought, “Oh, that was a dream.” And the two were separated again.  I have not been back to that fearful bleak world again.

So now I am in recovery. The doctors say that the process varies from person to person, but it is a two to three month process, mirroring the increasing effects of the treatment program itself. So at first there was not much to report, but now as the weeks go by (it is January 15) things are looking up.  I am eating again, although most of the taste has not returned. I’m able to concentrate more.  I can talk for more than a moment or two.

Most importantly Kathryn has come to take me back home to Delaware.

The healing goes on.

In the meantime, of course the healing from the treatment is different from the healing if the cure takes hold and the cancer is gone.  The hopes that I will once again be able to taste, swallow, speak, eat normally, are all being met more and more each day. But what about the hope that the cancer itself is effectively gone?  Well, there won’t be a first read on that for another two months, and if clean then regular readings over the next years. If the readings come back with cancer still present, then we work on next steps. Hope for recovery from the treatment is one thing. Hope for the end of this cancer is another.

So we move from hope to hope, from living in this moment where a good moment is drinking a smoothie with chunks of fruit, to living in the next where the good moment is dealing with the challenges of that moment as wellA 76, I suspect life will consist more often than not, of moments of “dealing with” with some grace and joy.  I can do this.

Again I am so aware of how much “dealing with” moments are effected by the love and care you have all had for me.  The Rector of all Lewes got members of the congregation to write postcards, so each day fifteen to twenty cards arrive, and after a while they become a tidal wave of mutterings of love. I have received wonderful letters and emails from friends. In particular, I have been touched and energized by notes from people who I encouraged along the way in exploring life and ministry, who have “reported in”.  When I’m down and out, these notes make me hope that perhaps something I did was of value. And value, the mutterings of love, and the care along the way make all the difference.

Barring setbacks or other surprises I’ll probably report next in a couple of weeks. But for now my thanks again for all your care, support and love.

As I reported last time:

“There, there,” she said.

“After a while,

On the dark side of the moon,

The Earth rises,

And you get to go home.”


  1. Thank you. Len. I am wishing you the best of recoveries and continued healing and good health.

  2. Oh, Mark! You are the embodiment of Joy and Grace! Your being (or, "personage" as our mutual buddy likes to say) alone, regardless of actions, is of the highest value. I would add to Joy and Grace, the qualities of great Warmth and Love. Sending you heart flowers from California. oxoxo christine

  3. Keep a positive mentality and emotions. It can do great difference in the outcome of the treatment.
    Best wishes.
    +David Alvarez

  4. Mark, h
    here on the other wing of this land mass and hearing from you is such a gift of space time delta. Hyde and I are so glad that the moon did not capture you keep the rotation spinning!

  5. I know how the postcards felt. I was sometimes so moved by the ones I got, in large bunches sometimes, that I cried. But then, I cried anyway. Love to you. Fleda

  6. Houston, The Eagle has returned. Praise be to God!

    It is comforting to all who read this that you are back sharing your journey. It's also good that all the prayers, thoughts, postcards, etc. have brought you some comfort. May this continue...
    Caressing prayers continue for you and your loving family,Cindy

  7. Dearest Mark, I have held Kathryn and you in my daily prayers and have not reached out for the simple reason that this posting illustrates: you had gone to the dark side of the moon and barely had energy to keep up with this sunnier side. But I have held you in my heart all this time and think of you (and, yes, Anne and I marched in Washington before going to Guatemala and El Salvador from where we have just returned). I send you much, much love, wishing you were nearer (Boston visits were not an option obviously). Lots of abrazos, too.