It’s been 5 months since our #TranscendCancer journey began. My first post was in May, after we found out about the diagnosis of Bien’s prostate cancer, but the journey really began months prior to that when we learned of his elevated PSA levels. From that moment, we’ve been living in the “unknown”. First the unknown of why the levels were elevated, then the unknown of the 2nd set of blood work, followed by the unknown of the biopsy result, on to the unknown of whether or not the cancer was present outside the prostate, then onto the questions about what treatment would look like, followed by the unknown of how we were going to pay for all of this, having an insurance policy that did not touch cancer…..moving into the unknown of what would transpire in surgery – to now, sitting in the waiting room at Mayo Clinic, waiting to see the doctor to give us the pathology results one week after surgery.
And here is what he told us, “It’s worse than we thought. The cancer is an aggressive and dangerous type, a pathological T3B that invaded the seminal vesicle on the left side.”
As a person who prides herself on being fairly intuitive, I missed the mark with this one. I held Brien’s hand on the way to Mayo telling him, “I’m confident everything is just fine – this cancer journey is over.” He, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. In fact – his intuition told him otherwise….so much so that we burned sage through the house after a terrible dream he had last night. He knew.
For at least the next two years, we will be at the mercy of routine bloodwork, testing the PSA levels for any sign of the cancer returning. At our first meeting (with a different doctor), we were told that the removal of the prostate would ensure 100% that the cancer would be gone. Before surgery, we were told that the surgery gave us 85% assurance the cancer would be gone. Today we were told that there is a high chance it will come back…50/50.
Although it feels like I just got punched in the stomach, I have a glimmer of clarity through this. Our new norm is living in the unknown, and when we are in the unknown, we are forced to be in the “now”. There is simply no way we can go the next two years waiting and wondering. So, our plan? Relax, enjoy life and take it as it comes. Isn’t this the way we should always roll anyways?
If you really want to know, not great. “How are you” – it’s such an every day question. One that typically comes with the same response, “Good, how are you?” If you know me, you know I’m a pretty straight shooter and certainly not one who goes for small talk. But most are still seemingly surprised when I give my honest answer of, “Not great” or “I’m falling apart at the seams.” In fact, most seem to not know how to respond. We are so conditioned to our rote conversations that anything outside of “good” seems to be a foreign language.
It’s the middle of the day on a Wednesday and I have a mile long list of things I should be doing including “taking time for me” – as I have repeatedly been instructed to do by my true blue’s. So here I am, writing away my thoughts and feelings in hopes of some reprieve.
Brien’s surgery is Monday….5 days from now. Logically, it will all be ok. He will go in, they will put him under, remove his prostate and the cancer along with it. He will wake up, take some time to heal and we will have our rock of the household back, cancer free. This is the scenario my logical brain follows. But once my heart starts getting involved, the scenario changes.. You see, on the human side of things, we have a situation that has changed everything. Anytime you throw the big C into the mix,, emotions run high. Medical needs change, relationships change and let’s face it, the entire dynamic that “was, no longer “is”. All of the “What If’s” play out like rapid fire constantly. My heart literally breaks on a daily basis at the sheer thought of the fear my husband must be experiencing right now. Every move we make to “prepare” feels like a game of Russian roulette.
In the midst, we have a business to run and it happens to be a highly involved one that doesn’t allow us to pause (think deadlines). The kids started school today – my boy’s last year before high school and I felt like a cloud hovered over this day that would have made me emotional in and of itself.
I try not to hide my cloud, which is why I’m honest when people ask me how I’m doing. It’s been months since I’ve said, “Good, how are you?” Yet, I feel somewhat guilty answering truthfully. Every time I do, I seem to get that “deer in the headlight look”. I can practically read their minds; “Oh crap, what do I say, what do I do?”
How do I know what they’re thinking? I’ve been on the other end. I’ve been on the other side of someone struggling and it IS uncomfortable. That feeling of wanting to help, wanting to say the right thing but just drawing a blank. It doesn’t feel good to be on that side of things either.
So for everyone who I’ve recently encountered – you simply asking, smiling, hugging, joking or being kind – it’s enough, and it’s appreciated.
My very closest friends keep telling me, “don’t be afraid to ask” so here is my request:
- Positive thoughts and energy
- Prayers for strength and healing
- Compassion & understanding
- Love & kindness
If everyone who reads this shares these 4 things- even from afar, I am confident we will have all we need to get through this experience. And for my besties who are holding my hand every step of the way, you have no idea how much I appreciate and love you.
Thanks for loving us. We love you back.