Out Of Time
Life does not always follow the blueprint that we created for ourselves nor does it always yield the end result that we want. On vacation, Nancy and her husband Barry are enjoying their trip, hiking and spending time with Sara and her new husband.
For absolutely no rime or reason, things happen that will change the course of their lives but not Nancy’s perspective on it. Out of Time is a memoir dedicated to embracing life and living it to its fullest. After spending an entire day outdoors Nan and Barry return to their hotel room to find Barry quite upset about a bump in his inner thigh. Ordinarily, you would think it might be a blood clot, a pulled muscle or just overexertion that might have caused it but using his medical experience and trying to rationalize the reason did not add to his anxiety or their worry.
Returning home they would see several doctors who were stumped. Going to Memorial Sloan Kettering for the initial assessment, then to an orthopedist answer were not readily given. As this journey began in May 1998 the answers would come until four months later when Barry was in so much pain and one doctor who really cared brought him back to Sloan Kettering for a surgery that would not only find the answers but could definitely change the direction of their lives. This simple bump was not so simple. The doctor gave it a name: Sarcoma, a name no one wants attached to anything on his or her body. Surgery that was done quite fast, a staple and stitch that were not taken out, the end result would not prove to be positive.
Out Of Time is one woman’s way to share her last four years with the one person who meant so much to her, Barry her husband. How they dealt with this fatal illness, the treatments he had to undergo and her undying passion to live life in a positive and uplifting manner. Fighting and hoping to beat this disease they continued going on vacations, working and praying that a miracle would be the end result. One woman’s journal, memoir, memorial, to her husband and much more as we take the journey back in time along with Nancy and Barry to where it all began and learn just how one man deals with learning he might be Out Of Time.
Back to work in the morning really helped them both mentally and physically. Their patients were glad to see them and their attitude quite positive as the journey would now begin starting with radiation treatments that were painful and would leave him tired but would not deflate his will to live or Nancy’s drive for him to live. In many of the chapters you hear the author’s inner thoughts, voice and uplifting pep talks she gives herself and others to let you know that life requires living, dealing with this illness you do it head on and you never give up. After his radiation treatments were completed the staff at Phelps gave me a hand made diploma. How cool and special is that! What is really rare is the dedication of Dr. Lewis, his drive to make sure that he was up on everything Barry was going through, endured and more and his willingness to listen and really hear what his patient had to say. Even more amazing was when he wanted to understand how Barry, as a doctor, felt being the patient.
The holidays were special and her children, family, and mother celebrated with her. Unfortunately, they could not attend a special anniversary for her aunt but his radiation treatments were vital. Next, step, after the treatments were done, was an x-ray that would provide a positive outcome and a trip to Arizona, California and then believe it or not Alaska. Nancy is truly an inspiration and her zest for life and her dedication to caring for Barry, not as an invalid, but as a person and a husband was more than just admirable it was the perfect way to make sure he lived his life as if he never heard the word sarcoma.
Life was fine for a while and then another setback even more difficult than the first as they find out that Barry’s cancer has returned in the form of lesions on his lung and would require more aggressive treatments. How many people really appreciate a place, a moment or life? The author describes in vividly her feelings and descriptions of their time visiting Arizona, the Grand Canyon and the feeling of joy and the privilege to be able to so as she states. March 1999 would change everything and Barry’s life would not be the same but with Nancy and their family’s support, he would endure more than most would normally undertake. Finally, in June of 2000, they planned to go visit her daughter and husband in Alaska. The vivid descriptions, the daily events and the real-life experiences they have on each trip allows the reader to go along on their journey, experience their joys, be apart of their sightseeing and an inspiration for others.
As a caregiver for my mom for over 10 years I understand how you sometimes have to put your own life on hold, weather many storms, hope you can endure the turbulence and then wait for the sun to come out. My mom had Alzheimer’s and despite her illness, she never lost sight of who she was or her sense of humor. It was her will to live and withstand all that she would come to endure that helped everyone else. As I read this memoir and tribute to Barry’s life and their life together I can feel the momentum in Nancy, the drive and her compulsion to get things moving, get it done right and keep this amazing and wonderful man around as long as possible.
Then, they are back home and conflicting reports come out the new scan. Added to their distress, Dr. Lewis, their guardian angel, is leaving the hospital and his practice. What would they do without this rare and definitely out of the ordinary doctor? So many have benefitted and been lucky to have had him as their doctor. It is so rare to find someone so understanding, caring and willing to go more than that extra mile.
Distractions were are great an visiting their old college and remembering how they met really triggered some great memories and helped divert their attention away from his illness for a short time until returning home. On what was supposed to Dr. Lewis’s last day at Sloan and now going into research it shocked Nancy when Barry asked him if he would help him die. Dr. Lewis answered that he would never abandon him. Meeting with a new oncologist a wake-up call to remind them that many doctors become immune to compassion and showing it protecting them from becoming too attached or close to patients.
A special surprise vacation Nancy planned with their two daughters and unknown to them his last visit to Arizona. Coming home the harsh reality set in as learned his fate but this time had to deal with a new doctor and a staff that did not show the compassion and understanding he was used to. Switched to a doctor referred to as Dr. B a man like Dr. Lewis and then the oncologist Dr. K who seemed too rigid and hardnosed, the end result was difficult for them to comprehend when told several times he did not qualify for an experimental drug that might save his life. Calling both Dr. B and Dr. Lewis would change things as they told him how this other doctor could work around it. Dealing with the medical profession is something that either makes or breaks you depending on your inner strength.
The realities that the author relates are so real and so scary. Doctors who are not treated any differently than anyone else. A man who spent his whole life caring for others, restoring their eyesight and struggling to stay alive while not giving up on his family and practice. Cancer is a hidden force that overtakes the body unnoticed. As you try and combat it and win one battle as both Barry and Nancy learned another one begins. The sad part is that the harsh realities of these insurance companies, the lack of compassion of those working there and the unforgivable statements claiming you are not covered or that they are working on approval can often result in a person giving up, arguing or worse a death. Enlisting the help of those who are supposed to have the answers is not really the solution. Simply stating that many doctors do not really know what treatments or procedures will work and save your life. It is like the blind leading the blind but worse because often the light gets dimmer until it goes out and turns the person’s world black.
One last hope: Thalidomide: Would it work? With a prescription in hand, they had to wait for the pharmacy to receive it. Next step was the hardest: Retirement. His final journey, his decision to retire and his last moments you need to read for yourself and share with both Barry and Nancy as I did. I think the hardest decision was the reality of what was happening and to call in hospice. Dealing with that with my aunt and recently supporting my cousins who had my Aunt Lily in Hospice in Florida I can understand what this last step meant for Nancy and her family and especially Barry. As one doctor found his way into Barry’s life, made house calls at the end and was an inspiration for life for Barry and Nancy he finally let go and was at peace.
The funeral, the family, her will to live life and those that support her you need to read for yourself. But, one thing rings true throughout is Nancy’s drive to live life, remember all that she and Barry shared, move on at her own pace and the work that she is doing to help others will definitely enrich their lives as reading this book did mine. Losing someone you love is something that you never forget. The pain is always there and their spirit is always with you. I lost my sister last year and I still talk to her knowing that she hears me and often guides me on the right path. Nancy: Thank you for sharing this uplifting, heartwarming and inspiration journal of your four years trying to fight this disease. Remember: it is four years you were able to share with Barry.
Let’s dedicate this review to Barry and all those that have won their battle with cancer and those who fought hard.
In his honor: Instead of stars let’s give this book: FIVE SPECIAL SCOOPS OF CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
To Nancy: Your life has so much meaning and you are definitely Not Out Of Time. It is an honor to review this book.