Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hello from Chemoland!!

Good Morning from Houston

I figure I should catch you up on where things stand in Graceyland Health World now that I have hit a landing place. I promise I will start blogging about interesting things very soon now that I feel better, but therein lies this story…
I have been diagnosed with 3rd/4th Stage esophageal cancer since January. This pretty much throwed me from my hoss but as I have said before, you do what you must to survive. This has meant chemo every two weeks since then with the strongest drugs I could ask for and withstand, since I figure the side effects (nails falling out, hair disappearing, weight loss, severe fatigue, neuropathy in limbs, stomach feeding tube [“Nil by Mouth” now joins me to Sir Roger Ebert], etc.) are nothing compared to an early death. It’s like I told my oncologist, “don’t go easy on me, I don’t need nice nails at my funeral”.
However, one aspect of this bravado has been having to grind through the side effects in reality, not just in talk. So, it has not been a very fun year thus far. I have gotten to go home some, see the family, cook a little bit (can’t eat at the moment) just for the cook’s pleasure, but most of my time has been spent in dealing with all of this and in going in and out of the hospital as my white blood count dipped and vicious little infections roared to life in me. 
At last we came more or less to the end of the chemo and started radiation this week to try to kill or nearly kill some of the major cancerous spots that were beaten down by the chemo but not dead yet. Four more weeks of radiation and I'm catchin' the first thing smokin'- first to Paris, then to our newly renovated little home in the Languedoc for some actual Life Its Own Self and not just jabber about living longer. I’ll come back to Austin for holidays and family and friends but first I need my France fix, and it is almost harvest time there and I can’t wait to see the red grapes being hauled into town in the hopper trucks and taste the grape juice and eat some nice food at last. 
So, there you have it, minus all the little stuff that so interests the patient and so bores the friend. 
I have more to say about the effects on my thinking, my life, and my newfound (again) love of this sweet existence, but that must wait for more energy to accrue in the batteries. 
Thanks for your condolences, cards and jokes and I hope to repay you in the future!

Joe Gracey, Jr.


Lluís said...

Joe, please tell us when you are coming to France!! We are coming to visit you for sure!!

And of course, I thought about you and Kimmie many times during these past months, so it's good news that after all the suffering you are able to come to Occitània to enjoy life. You deserve it, pal!

Love u, truly. Get well. Come here soon!

Carmen said...

I was talking to God about you today.I love you so!

Bill Lavery said...

Love you Joe!!

Lynda Jones said...

You are my inspiration! I so look forward to the day I can give you a big hug! If I don't see you before you leave, give France a big Kiss for me!

Ed Ward said...

Lemme know when you're settled into the village; I'd love to come see you guys, and I figure that B&B there is just waiting for my call.

Been a good year for the grapes, apparently; talk is it's gonna be a major vintage.

Robby Vickery said...


I have not seen you since your hospital room in 1977, but my brother, Randy, has told me some about you through your brother, Bill. I loved reading yesterday's American-Statesman article about you. I'll try to find your blog about your mom's funeral.

You are in my prayers. Peace!

Your Bilglade neighbor,

Robby Vickery

Joe Gracey said...

Robbie, the blog on my mother is August 3rd.

Thanks for the prayers and for getting in touch!!