Stories. Everyone is a story. Everything is a story. We fall in love with stories and we want more. I spent yesterday reading so many stories. Stories about grandfathers, fathers and mothers. Stories about travels, challenges, and thankfulness. Stories about reading, writing, and learning. So many stories posted by all of the amazing writers taking part in this Slice of Life Story Challenge. Now I’m ready to share where I’ve been.
I’m sharing it because it is a story of hope. And of thankfulness. And of learning. And what are we if we don’t have hope. If we have nothing to feel thankful for. If we cease to learn. It all started one year ago, right in the midst of this very same writing challenge. But the start of something can fool you. Sometimes things get worse. Sometimes things get better. Probably they most often do both.
My husband battled cancer last year. It took us completely by surprise, as I’m sure it always does. Even his doctors would comment that he was the healthiest person in the room, except for the fact that he had cancer.
The waiting was the worst part of it. Waiting for tests. Waiting for procedures. Waiting for results. But wait, I’m wrong. The results were the worst, at least in the beginning. You see, in the beginning, every time we sat in an office awaiting a result, knowing there was a spectrum of answers, the answer we got was at the low end of that spectrum. The worst end of that spectrum. Until we finally hit bottom and had nowhere to go. Bladder cancer, chemo, surgery.
Then the waiting began again. New doctors. New tests. New results. Remember that spectrum. The one we were on where the answers couldn’t get any worse? Well, they began to improve. This was the course of treatment. This was the expected outcome. This was the timeline. “Superman is down,” his doctor commented, “but we can get him back up.”
We could do this!
And we did! Chemo began in May and lasted all the way through August. Two weeks on, one week off. We began to refer to the weeks on as “Chemo Wednesdays”. And my husband was a warrior, he continued to work, never lost his hair, although as our doctor pointed out, he didn’t have that much to begin with (chemo humor?). We modified our lifestyle. Less eating out (stay away from possible bacterias and germs). Less contact with the outside world (stay away from possible bacterias and germs). Some restrictions on what he could eat (stay away…you get the picture).
September was the month of rest. Thank goodness because I had to get in my classroom, get my class in shape so I could be absent for a short time during surgery. Thank goodness because my husband deserved a bit of normalcy. A glass of wine. A weekend of fun. A month of strength building before surgery.
October we faced that surgery. Bladder removed, a new bladder built. Family gathered around. Support systems in place. The promise of a life being given back. “Six months out of surgery,” his doctor promised, “no one will know what you have been through.”
They were right! It is nearly six months post surgery and life is…back to normal. I still watch him like a hawk. He will continue to see doctors at Sloan Kettering for probably years. It was a year we never expected but we made it through. He made it through. My story is a story of hope and thankfulness and learning. Hope because we never gave up hope. Thankfulness for the amazing doctors and caring nurses who get you through these things. And learning because we know so much more today than we did a year ago. Maybe we just never knew we needed to know what we know now. But we know it and so it is part of us.
And we march on!