Real Time – Part 1

Sometimes life changes on a dime… Sometimes it does more than once.

It was my intention that this was to be a story told in retrospect, a story that would inspire others and give hope.  I had barely started.  I hadn’t even gotten to the part about the 4 months of chemo, a failed colon resection surgery, a month of daily radiation, a successful (take 2) colon resection, a liver resection surgery, and the ileostomy reversal surgery.  Not to mention all the scans, research, supplements, alternative therapies, etc….  I had a lot of good stories too… But I guess that can wait for another time, because after only a few months after being “cancer free”, we are now back in the fight.

So, I guess we will now continue this journey together, in real time… I still fully intend that this will be a story of hope and inspiration, a success story.  I’m just not sure yet how it will unfold.  Here’s what happened…

After three major surgeries in a span of 6 months (January-June this year), my husband was feeling good, buoyed by his achievement.  He had had a foot of colon removed, and 75% of his liver removed in the process.  Though he still didn’t have quite all his strength back after the last surgery, he felt good enough to go on a business trip in early July, and promised to take it easy.  If it had been anything else he probably wouldn’t have gone, but it was the company’s big annual conference and they were unveiling projects my husband had been instrumental in.  He also wanted to see people he hadn’t seen in over a year, and start celebrating beating cancer.  I wanted him to have that moment.

When he arrived home he was tired… normal I thought, given his condition and the trip.  Then he started having a little cough…. Just a little bug, something he must have picked up on the trip… nothing to worry about.  But the cough didn’t go away and neither did the fatigue, it got a bit worse.  Then he started having shoulder pain, and then pain in his side.  At this point my husband was feeling pretty crappy and had already begun to take days off work.  Shortly after that my husband Googled “cough and shoulder pain” and it came back LUNG CANCER.

How could that be possible? I reminded my husband of the number 1 rule – Don’t Google It!!!!  Besides he was cancer free, we hadn’t even had a party to celebrate yet, and it couldn’t possibly come back that fast… could it?  He called the oncologist the next day and they set up an appointment for a CT scan for later that week. We were only a couple of weeks away from a long, long, overdue vacation, and the kids were going to my sister’s the week before so that we could have some romantic time alone…

The CT scan showed spots scattered through both lungs (inconclusive), something possibly on his liver (inconclusive), and slightly enlarged lymph nodes (inconclusive), as well as a build up of fluid in the space behind his lungs (probably the cause of the shoulder pain).  He was sent to a lung specialist to have the fluid drained from behind his lungs, which would be sent for testing.  I reassured the kids that their father would be feeling better once the fluid was gone, and put them on a plane to my sister’s.  I was still trying to convince myself that this was some kind of weird infection.  By this point my husband was not feeling well enough to work, he was exhausted and weak.  Removal of a litre and a half of fluid from behind his lungs had not helped his cough or his pain.  We spent a not so romantic week waiting for the test results.  We decided that we would still go on vacation no matter what happened… Maybe he just needed a break, we knew we desperately wanted a change of scene for a while, we were still optimistic.  The evening before we were supposed to leave, the lung specialist called… it was cancer.  My husband’s cancer had metastasized to his lungs.

Part 2 coming soon!

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