Thursday, February 20, 2014

The C Word

A little over 2 weeks ago, we found out my husband has cancer.  

It's a rare cancer, with an occurrence rate of about 1 in 100,000 in the United States.   We knew when he saw the surgeon that he would be having surgery, but the cancer diagnosis was very unexpected.  

Since then, he's had major surgery, bone scans, CT scans, blood work, oncology appointments, followup appointments with the surgeon, and he potentially has more scans, more surgery with more biopsies ahead, possibly requiring us to travel to the University of Michigan, all before we'll know what treatment is recommended after the surgery. 

I've spent the last 2 weeks packing and dressing his wounds 3 times a day, caring for his catheter, helping him dress and bathe, all the while working my 4 to midnight full work-at-home job as a medical editor/transcriptionist.   

This cancer is so rare, that there are no studies with a large enough sample of patients to be able to even predict 5 year survival rates, recurrence rates and so on.   The statistics that are available are not very encouraging, with life expectancy of 7 months to 2 years after diagnosis for the more advanced stages. 

I'm still trying to wrap my head around all this.  We've been together for 43 years, since I was 18 years old.  We have worked together in the same home office for the last 18 years.  We're sort of joined at the hip.   When you grow old with someone, you expect that at some point, one of you will die.  Somehow, I always thought that if his time came before mine, that it would be a heart attack, or something quick like that, where he's here one day and the next day he's gone.  

It never occurred to me that I might have to watch him die.  

I don't know how to deal with that, so for right now, I'm hanging on to hope that when all the testing is done that there will be a treatment that can cure him, and if not, at least hold it at bay for a few years.   In other words, I'm holding on to hope until somebody tells me not to, and that day is not here.  . 

We all know someone who has been affected by cancer, but somehow, you never think it will hit this close to home ... until it does.  

Until next time,