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Just Do It and You Get Through It - My Personal Story
By Lois A. Troutman

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The title of this article exemplifies a motto I adopted early on in my life as a caregiver. Caregiver is a word that I never expected would be in my job description when I got married to Kenneth E. Troutman on March 22, 1975. But, years later it became an all-consuming part of my life.

On December 27, 1990, we discovered that my husband had developed prostate cancer. Cancer is a word that can send shock-waves through oneís very being. It can be a stunning diagnosis and one that takes a lot of time to get used to hearing. Itís even difficult saying the word. I know it hit me with the force of a tornado and so many questions began to circulate through my mind. Those questions had no answers in the beginning. Actually, as time wore on there were only more questions with very few answers.

I immediately knew that I had to adopt an attitude adjustment and vowed to do everything humanly possible to help my husband through this ordeal. My feeling was that I had to assume responsibility and somehow get through whatever came our way in order to be able to best take care of Ken.

The early years actually went very smoothly and our lives were not disrupted very much at all. But, cancer is like a family member who comes to visit and becomes a permanent guest, a very unwelcome guest at that.

I actually felt like I was going into this great abyss where there was so much uncertainty and fear. Yes, the kind of fear that just rocks one to the core. But, at the same time I was determined to just do it and get through it.

My journey began with a visit with Ken to his oncologist on January 7, 1991. My emotions were ďall over the placeĒ. It turned out Kenís cancer had already spread to the bone, so surgery would have been a moot point. He started out with a monthly hormone shot and regular examinations, so it seemed like we were off the hook at this point, but that was not a harbinger of things to come down the road of our journey.

In September of 1997, I believe we began the start of the end. Ken became ill with what we thought was a case of the flu, but that certainly was not what it turned out to be. Finally, on October 21 we sought medical intervention at the hospital. He was hospitalized for eight days fighting for his life from uremic poisoning. He did eventually rally from this, but this was only the beginning of more setbacks to follow.

The hospital at this point became a second home for us.  There were more hospital stays, more medications, more tests. The day that I feared the worst came and that was to enter the infusion room to begin protocols such as chemotherapy that were supposed to help Ken. It turns out that when one became ineffective, another type was implemented. It was, also very apparent to me that all of these treatments were meant to extend Kenís life, not necessarily to make the quality of his life better because it certainly did not.

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