"We found a mass that looks suspicious."
With those few words, my husband and I hopped on a roller coaster ride. My husband, my inspiration, was told that they thought he had cancer on that day two years ago.
There have been many ups and many downs, with many scary moments, and many triumphs over this disease. And true to the nature of this disease, there was a touch of irony sometimes. The night before he was to be released from the hospital, nurses evacuated us into to the hallway. A strong storm was in the area with a possible tornado being tracked to pass straight over our house. We wondered if we would even have a place to go home to. Fortunately, the tornado popped back into the clouds, and just a few shingles were missing from the roof when we got home.
When you are forced onto the cancer roller coaster, either as a patient or a caregiver, you feel like the world is racing by. You try your best to navigate the twists, turns and loopy-loops as countless doctors send you for appointments, scans, blood tests, biopsies and back around again.
And then you sit at the top of the big hill, you know the one, where you creep up slowly and your car stops near the top. You are up there long enough to question everything, with an ominous feeling that there is no turning back. Then suddenly, you are racing downhill, at full speed, fingers clenched onto the bar headed for surgery, treatments, radiation or chemo.
My husband’s cancer was one that typically does not respond to radiation or chemo. But we were lucky. It was discovered purely by accident, before it had spread. Surgery removed the tumor—and all evidence of cancer. He has had several clear scans since his surgery, and proudly wears his Livestrong band to show he is a survivor.
Others are not so lucky; their car slowly rises to the peak of an even higher hill with an even faster ride down. They face several rounds of treatments. Chemo may not work, so another cocktail is tried, and sometimes another. Doctors order more radiation, or more aggressive surgeries. Some cling to the hope that clinical trials will get them off this crazy ride. Hospice may have to be arranged. Far too many lose the battle.
When we entered the world of cancer, I discovered a very large group of compassionate people. We met so many caring people. There was Frank, the cancer patient who sat and visited with us in the waiting room at our first oncology visit. There was Dr. K, who was just about to board a flight, and left the airport when my husband was in distress. There was Nurse Carmen who came running into my husband’s room with a big smile and ice cream, the moment he was cleared to eat it. And many many others...
These countless small moments helped us keep our sanity throughout our battle. I have wanted to find some small way to return that compassion. With the help of our daughter and the inspiration of my husband, I hope that Cuddles of Courage is my way to pay it forward for the next person.
Mol an latha math mu oidhche.
Praise the good day at the close of it.