He caught the Cancer…

It’s crazy to think that it’s been two months since I have published a post. I have written many private posts or drafts, but none have met my mental criteria to be put out there for the world to see. I vowed to myself that today I would put a stop to that.

I suppose this story starts in mid-November. My long-term boyfriend had a surgery to remove some swollen lymph nodes on his neck.

15285031_10209459790185039_560605871122775375_n

The nodes would be biopsied, and the doctor assured us that it was most likely a benign type of tumor. Optimism ensued.

On the weekend before his 42nd birthday, we celebrated alone together at the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle. We each had our favorite, the steak diane, with several Blue Moon Ale’s and a lemoncello cream torte for dessert. I remember how he wore his grey beanie instead of a ball-cap. For some reason all of these details stand out to me as if they are important, when they aren’t. I think I have committed them to memory because I clearly remember his smile as the glow of his candle hit his face, right before he blew it out. I remember that moment and thinking that he seemed happy.

The day after his birthday, he met with his doctor to get his biopsy results and was diagnosed with follicular B-cell non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I was at work when he told me the news via text. I felt like I was in a time warp while the rest of the world kept on going. It seemed impossible to keep performing day to day tasks while my world was seemingly hanging on by a thread. Memories of my parents came to me over and over again. A bedside commode next to a frail body. Pill bottles covering an entire table. Tar black coffee to be my only meal as I sat in the hospital for an entire afternoon.

I really just wanted to break down, but that seems entirely selfish. Sure, I have my own part in this. I have to play the role of caregiver, once again. I have to helplessly watch my loved ones suffer. I don’t want to be one of those people that makes it about them, though. I am not the one that has to go through chemo.

After his diagnosis, he had to have a PET/CT scan to determine where the Cancer had spread throughout his body. The doctor told us at the time that he probably had stage 1 or 2, and might not even need chemo. Optimism ensued.

Before the scan he had to eat a low-carb diet. I was in HEAVEN because in my efforts to fit into skinny jeans I have researched diets galore and finally had someone to bore to death with my findings. For three days we both ate a Ketogenic diet, and after his scan we enthusiastically ate a full breakfast of biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit and juice from the hospital cafeteria. Hospital food had never tasted so good.

Yesterday he met with his oncologist and was told that he has stage 3A lymphoma. 

_________________________________________________________________

People say to remain optimistic but if you expect the worst you will never be disappointed.

_________________________________________________________________

Okay, it’s not that I expect the worst. I mean, I don’t think we should start picking out caskets or anything. The new diagnosis was simply a slap in the face considering we have been told every step of the way that it was likely a better outcome. It seems like trying to remain optimistic is a jinx.

The next step is a bone marrow biopsy to see if the Cancer has spread there, and if it has he will become a stage 4. The doctor said that she doesn’t think this is the case because he has no symptoms and his blood work is great. I am not going to be fooled into optimism this time, though. Fool me once, shame on you…

I keep wanting to throw a pity party. Every time that I see him tearing up. Every time that I think about going through the Cancer rodeo again. I keep wondering why this is happening again, but I don’t think I will ever have these answers.

bbe800524cfea744bbc9839fe4b22cce

 

Regardless of this staging I am hopeful about the prognosis. I know in my heart that we have many years left together.

Advertisements

Independence Day, literally.

For two days I have tried to write this entry. I have written paragraphs, only to dissect them and ultimately delete them. Each effort began on a different tone or at a different scene, but the result was always the same: darkness. My mind is like a black, empty void that is scrambling to give description to 14 years of repressed grief.


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy


 

Independence Day, 2002 took a very literal meaning for me when my mother, who was terminally ill with breast Cancer that metastasized to her bone and brain, passed away in the hospital. She was 48.

It wasn’t sudden. My mother fought for 6 years with Cancer and never really went into remission. We were constantly told that she would die, as if she had some expiration date stamped on her arm. My bed-ridden mother was the reality for so long that I guess I perceived it as normal. I didn’t believe that she would die, or at least told myself that I still had plenty of time. Time to talk to her and hear her old stories. Time to play games. Time to drop the teenage attitude and be a better daughter.

There wasn’t enough time.

I don’t remember my mother before she died, with her bald head from too many rounds of chemo or her heart surgery scar. I remember the version of her as she was when I was a small child. I remember her boy haircut, and her big plastic glasses. I remember her red lipstick and her puffy purple coat. I remember how she was the director of Camp Fire boys and girls, and I know now that it’s because she wanted nothing more in her life than to be with her two daughter’s and their friends every day. I remember her borrowing money just to put food on the table. We didn’t usually have much but my mother put us first.

hpim7048

My mother, cooking in the kitchen, how I remember her.

My mother didn’t make it to my High School graduation. The birth of my first child. My wedding. My divorce! Mother’s Day comes and goes and I’m not sure whether to mourn or celebrate because I am a mother without one. Time goes on but the scars are permanent.

I was left to spend my days with my alcoholic father, who joined her in 2010. I remember so many nights, laying in bed and asking the darkness, why?  My mother’s passing brought my father and I together. So, if there can be any ‘why’, it was that. Nothing helps you understand the fleeting beauty of life more than death. Nothing helps you understand what is important in life more than death. The people in our lives are the most important. The connection, the bond, the stories, and the memories that we share.

The people that you call family, whoever they may be, are your greatest gifts in life. Forget the arguments, the drama, the fights, the blame or the wrongdoings. Grab hold of them. Don’t learn about life from loss.