4.24.2019

Cancer ... A Year Later


Taken the weekend I told the kids

It has been exactly one year since we went to the doctor to talk about a "small spot" found on a cat scan and heard the word cancer.  I don't think I will forget the first time our doctor said he would be referring us to an oncologist or the feeling I felt at that moment in time.  I honestly had such a good feeling about the time in between when they spotted this "small spot" and the doctor appointment and the news and truth hit me like a brick wall.  We were just four months in with our son's medical crisis and I needed the doctor to tell me this spot was fine so we could focus once again as a team on the plan we had. I was in shock, stunned, sickened and every single thing he said after the word oncologist was a blur. As I look back over that doctor appointment I realize how in shock I really was.  It was not expected at all and when I tried to process the words he was saying it was a lot like Charlie Brown's teacher.  I knew he was speaking but yet I could not make out one single word he spoke.  The hours that evening and the weeks to come also went by as a blur and I tried to make sense of all the doctors were speaking to us.  There wasn't a "small spot" but instead a large and inoperable tumor that would need to drastically reduce in size before surgery.  Lots of chemo and then major surgery and then we would see where we were.  They all kept saying the same thing and I clung to the positive of every thing they shared.  I was desperate for something good and as the shock wore off the reality began to sink in, but all in all I was clinging to the good.

That was one year ago and as I sit and type this I am trying to let it all sink in.  It has been 365 days since the words cancer, chemotherapy, and oncologist became part of my regular vocabulary.  My husband was diagnosed with a GIST tumor, a rare small cell sarcoma.  When they found it it was very large (17.6 x 10.8) and involved too many other organs to be removed.  It is only attached to his stomach, but as we are told, anything it touches will have to be taken out. Our plan was always 9-12 months of chemo, surgery, and then evaluation for additional chemo.  As we hit the 9 month mark the plan changed and with the new plan we will be doing additional chemo until the tumor stops shrinking ... with the goal for the optimal shrinkage.  That time frame is up in the air ... when two scans are the same we move to surgery.



There have been a lot of ups and downs over the last year, but for the most part the joy remains.  There is joy in all things and I continue to look for it at all times. We cling to hope and every single tiny bit of good news they share. We are so incredibly hopeful that he will be completely restored.  The time plan I was clinging to is no longer the plan, but he is holding up with the daily dose of chemo.  He is the strongest man I know, and with the exception of a few days, has shown up for work daily. I knew I married a committed man but honestly I had no idea of how strong and steady he was.  As always, he remains focused and calm as I bounce from the highest joy days to some pretty low ones where I have hit the wall. He is always the straight line in our marriage where I am all the feels with all the highs and all the lows.  As I have come to understand, the perfect balance.

I am not the same person I was a year ago.  My life has changed and I have done the best I can to change with it.  I am trying hard to embrace the changes and let God do all the work in be and through me he wishes to do.  I have embraced all the peace and am thankful for each and every morning he blesses us with.  The sunrises are more beautiful, the sunsets even more stunning and every single time he grasps my hand my heart skips even more beats. Honestly, with the exception of his diagnosis and needing to take chemo I would not change our journey.  I didn't ever dream we would be on this path but the blessings we have received and the closeness we have as a family I would never change.  There is good that comes with everything, sometimes you just have to look for it.


I realize how lucky we are.  I am incredibly thankful his tumor was found as it was and before it had spread.  I am thankful he has tolerated the chemo and his heart, liver and kidneys remain strong.  I am thankful he has settled in and has much less nausea and sleepless nights. I am thankful for our simple weekends while he reboots, and most of all I am thankful he is healing, no matter how slowly it happens.  When we sit in the infusion room (for fluids and medicine only) I look around at all the others in much different situations.  I understand that ours is bad enough for us, but I am also very aware it could be so much worse.  I try to let myself feel all the emotions, even the twinge of jealousy I feel when others are done with treatment and are already at their happy endings.  Ours is still in its process, and I get it.

None of this has been easy, but it has been doable.  I am way stronger than I ever knew I was and I do my absolute best to be his rock.  I try to be steady and try to breakdown outside of our family.  I share only the good news (which should be our focus) and keep the worry and fear for God and my closest of friends.  They remind me to trust, to pray, to let them pray and to lean into the good.  It always helps so very much.

For now the plan is to keep taking chemo and to continue to check the tumor every three months.  We are currently in between scans and he will have another in two months. When the tumor stops shrinking we will once again visit the surgeon and the plan will once again take a new shape.  Currently we have seen about 35% shrink and we are hoping for so much more.  I pray every single moment of the day for his complete recovery and when they deliver the news I will cry the happiest of tears and praise God for the work he will have done in all of us.


I remember trying to think about a month out when we first learned his diagnosis.  It seemed so very, very far away.  I was so focused on the next appointment and the next step and I didn't have a choice but to put one foot in front of the other and take one step at a time.  I could not allow myself to think about the next day when I was so busy trying to make it through the current one.  It was the best way to get through and honestly the only one I am convinced.  I used to plan so far ahead for so many things and I have come to realize that isn't at all what we should or are called to do.  I plan out the day I have and when things completely blow up I toss the paper and take it as I can.  Life is messy and hard but it is also precious and beautiful and meant to be experienced. We are most definitely doing that one!

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of all of our hearts for your support of our family.  You have sent messages, called, texted, prayed and consistently lifted us up for every single thing I have asked for and every day in between.  We feel so supported and loved and I am so very grateful for this community.  I honestly can not thank you enough for every single message and prayer.  They are heard and felt and it is life changing.  I honestly can not imagine walking this path or any without faith.  It has carried me when I couldn't walk and held me up when I was weak and been a rock every single day.

It is truly my everything.  ❤

5 comments:

  1. I have so wondered and prayed since you mentioned your husband's last scan. Thank you for sharing so openly both of the logistics in treatment and the roller coaster of emotions, dreams and realities.
    Please know there are fellow believers walking alongside your family on this journey through prayer. He is able!

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  2. Lifting you and your family in prayers for healing and continued progress towards optimal health.

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  3. I just started following you a week ago and you are truly amazing! I too saw that last year something happened with your husband and today after reading this I understand. Your words will help others. You have such an incredible vibe about you, and I can see that you are all in with everything your family needs. I can feel the love in your home just by looking at pictures. Keep strong and don't loose your spirit, your husband needs you to be just as you are! We are all praying.

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  4. Praying for you and your beautiful family.

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