This is my husband, Randy Moore. Or maybe I should add that this is my junior high school sweetheart, my best friend, my husband for over 30 years and the father of my children, my life coach, my handy man, my personal IT specialist, my sounding board and my lover. His war with cancer began on February 11, 1982 when he fell playing ping-pong with a friend. Initially the x-rays showed a walnut sized mass that had destroyed most of his tibia, in his lower right leg. The fall happened because the tibia was so compromised that the remaining bone gave way also causing the fibula to break. I checked him in to the hospital on Valentine’s Day for a bone graph. Three days later they informed my twenty-five-year-old husband that he had cancer and we had to seek treatment at one of three clinics in the country. On Sunday, February 21, we drove to Rochester, Minnesota. The trip was long and painful for Randy and the information received in the next few days was devastating. Our options were amputation of the lower right leg or death. We choose the amputation. Randy’s pathology came back as fibro sarcoma and he had an eighty percent chance of survival. Randy stayed in the hospital for 10 days following the amputation. A few weeks later, he had a long cycle of physical therapy to learn to walk again. For five years we went to the Mayo Clinic for check-ups and they continued to watch two small nodules on his lungs; they never developed into anything.
Our life together went on. He spent hours learning to walk without a limp, relearning how to bowl, which was his favorite, and just adjusting to daily life with a prosthetic leg. He never was able to water ski again so we concentrated on other activities. We lived, had children, bought houses, and went to work. Randy loved it when people he had known for years had no idea that he was an amputee. He was just a guy, bowled a little funny with a hop, but just one of the guys. He loved fishing in Canada with friends, pheasant hunting in the fall and playing poker with his friends and his son. Randy was a middle class man. He mowed his yard, fixed the cars, coached his daughter’s softball team, and cheered wildly at the Iowa State University football and basketball games.
In October of 2003 Randy’s cancer returned. Tumors were found in both of his lungs and it was diagnosed as metastatic cancer. Later the pathology would confirm that the original cancer had finally spread after twenty-two years.
How do I begin to explain the next six years of Randy’s life? Do I explain it in the “what goes out to the people we know” or in the “what we kept to ourselves” story. Frankly, he went through hell for six years and managed to always present himself with a positive attitude. I watched my husband’s masculinity being challenged every day through his moments of total embarrassment, and his pride mortally wounded as he lost the ability to take care of normal everyday activities. Now, eighteen months later I can put those years into numbers: three surgeries to remove parts of both lungs, one surgery to repair an artery, four different rounds of chemotherapy, one test round of chemotherapy, multiple physical therapy sessions including one for the loss of his balance, countless blood tests, three trips to the emergency room for low blood count levels, and forty one trips to the Mayo Clinic. These numbers don’t reflect the tests, the medications prescribed, over the counter drugs, the diet changes, the weight loss or the fact that he lost his beautiful head of hair twice.
Randy’s war with cancer was an ongoing battle one after the other. On his 49th birthday, they informed us again that the cancer had returned in a lung and it was inoperable. We never discussed the possibility that he would not survive. Instead, we discussed the possibility of a test research chemotherapy; he endured sixteen blood draws on that first day and of course he had a smile for the nurse. We traveled to the Clinic every twenty-one days for tests, chemotherapy, and to pick up the test drugs to take at home. After seventeen sessions Randy’s cancer began to grow. On March 9, 2010 the doctor told Randy he had 6 days to 6 months to live. Randy was still working part-time; he didn’t want to let his boss or fellow workers down by leaving until their department was officially closed.
Randy died May 28, 2010. His war lasted 80 months. But in that time we celebrated our daughter’s high school graduation, and our son’s college graduation and marriage. Randy lived a simple life but the important thing is he lived his life the way he wanted to and left a message of strength and optimism to his friends and family.