Posted by: donrhymer | September 30, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Sentimental

Warning: Treacle alert. The sap is so thick in this one you’re going to need to wear gloves.

I finished another round of treatment yesterday. Seven or eight weeks of chemo and radiation. Yay me! I wanted to take one entry and thank a bunch of people who once again made going through this bearable, but it comes with a huge caveat.

I may need you all again.

This ain’t my first year in clown college. Four times in a little less than three years I have gotten the call from various Doctors saying: “Don, I’ve got bad news.” The first is when I found the tumor on my tongue. Then nine months after that surgery. Five months after my second surgery and first round of chemo and radiation and only five weeks after my third surgery. As you can see, the length of time between phone calls is moving in the wrong direction.

I bring this up to make two points, one – I’m glad it’s over once again, but it’s hard to get too excited about it. And two – I am finally learning to appreciate today. To embrace the moment and worry about tomorrow… tomorrow. Enlightened of me, huh?

Anyway, it seems a great time to stop and say thanks. So, get your insulin ready.

MY KIDS – Andrew, Molly and Carrie. Just amazing is all I can say. This is not fun news for any child to get no matter how old you are. You could have withdrawn, you could have acted out, you could have done a lot of things and no one would have thought the lesser of you for it, but you stepped up. Your calls, your trips home. The text messages, the emails. The way you propped me up when I needed it, listened when I needed to talk and laughed with and often AT me when I couldn’t always see the humor in things. My only regret is that my illness has caused you even one moment of pain or sadness.  My job as a Dad is to make your lives easier, not harder and I am truly sorry I have not been able to do that. You’re wonderful kids, but I can’t take credit you learned it from…

KATE – There are no words. I’ve written you notes and bought you “things” but those were all the lame efforts of an inarticulate man to express my gratitude. My only hope is that when you look in my eyes, you just… know. These kinds of experiences either tear marriages apart or bind them together and I am so happy to say we have suffered the later.  I simply would not be here today were it not for you.

KELLY – My sister. You paved the way on how to handle cancer with grace and humor and I am blessed to share your DNA.

MY FRIENDS – From the almost daily text messages from my East Coast college buddies, to the La Canada family and even the  “show people” in my life, you’ve all helped in big and small ways to pull me through. If I named twenty names I’d leave out fifteent others that deserved to be on the list so I won’t bother, but I have to name-check two.

When the shit truly hits the fan, you hope your very best friends will be standing by with umbrellas and Dave and Kathy – you sure were. I tried to think of one incident, of one particular word or one gift that really touched me, but I couldn’t because you just do what best friends do. You showed up. Sometimes almost every day. Whether for five minutes or five hours, empty-handed or with pie. You watched me eat soft foods, you sat quietly while I napped through a Dodger game or you made fun of me while I lay in bed and watched “Yard Crashers” in my pajamas.  You have been amazing.

USC NORRIS CANCER CENTER – My surgeon, radiologist and yes, even my “Oncologist Who Hates Me” really are the dream team. Tops in your field, I  have put my life in your hands and you haven’t let me down.

THE RADIATION TECHS – Over the course of six or seven weeks you were treated to an awful lot of “Don.”  Hyper-Don, Moody-Don, Obnoxious-Don. You seemed to be able to figure out which one you were dealing with on any given day and responded accordingly. It’s an awful procedure to have to endure for twenty-five minutes a day and you did everything you could to make it as bearable as possible. You’re good people.

LINDA – The radiation nurse. Tracked me down almost every day and grilled me on how I was feeling and always had a million suggestions on things I could do to stay as comfortable as possible. You saved my life at least four times and I am forever grateful. As well as…

THE DAY HOSPITAL NURSES – Rachelle, Thelma and Elizabeth. You deal with really sick people during the most trying time of their lives and you do it with such grace and professionalism. Truly inspiring.

And also KIMMI, my physical therapist. Your work got me back to playing tennis once, and I have no doubt you’ll get me back there again.

I would also like to point out that the entire medical staff made this blog ten times tougher to write. Competence and professionalism are the enemies of comedy. If only you’d given me the wrong medication once in a while, or wheeled me into rectal surgery by mistake, I could have milked that shit for weeks, but NOOOOOO!!! I had to do all the heavy comedy lifting myself. So less laughter for everyone, thank you very much.

Okay, I left people out, but blame the cancer, not me. Though another round of treatment is over, this blog is not. I will continue to write, hopefully about non-cancer stuff sometimes. The next entry may be in two days or two weeks, we will see. My best advice is if you want to stick with me is to click on the little icon and subscribe to the blog. It just takes a second and WordPress will email you a notice whenever I post something new and then you can check it out or ignore it if you wish.

Okay, thanks again. I need to shower, I don’t know about you, but after re-reading this I feel like I’m covered in syrup.



  1. Frankly, I thought the light blue “jammie” pants were quite a fashion statement! Who ever likes to watch someone you love go through your experience, let alone a nurse like me who thinks “Make life easier for yourself, use drugs!!” I believe I even said that on several occassions, but you being you, would have no part of it. You wanted to be present with those you loved, every minute of all of it. Not to share your misery, never that, but share their day. To walk with them in their journey as best you could, probably tired, maybe in pain, but always present. Caring the way only Don Rhymer can care-100% engaged. Your strength was amazing, and I know its in no small part due to the love of your wife and kids. I am so blessed to be able to call you my friend. So cheers my dear, to you fighting your fight with such courage and thank you for allowing the rest of us to walk along side you. I love you.

  2. I think about you each and every day, Don Rhymer. I wonder . . . ‘what would Don do?’ as I navigate through my minor ‘trials’ in life and am present to, in an instant, the fact that very few things deserve the energy that could otherwise be devoted to celebrating all that life has to offer. Abundance.

    Your sentiments are straight-forward and moving. All seven of you (Kathy and Dave included) are the fortunate recipients of the bond and love you created and share. What else is there?

    You are a blessing to all who know you and to those who don’t (but reap the benefits of your creativity and talent). Taking on your cancer makes all of our lives better. Thank you.

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