I have always feared my wife would get cancer. I know, it’s stupid right. I also have a fear that I will end up in prison one day as someone’s lover named, “Sweet Baby B,” but that’s for another blog. This past week has been the most heart wrenching of my life. Most people would shy away from telling their stories but I want to share it. I want people to know what’s going on. The following months will be filled with pain, sorrow, tears and victory. As such, I will write my post with honesty. I may, at times, be blunt in my language and I ask that no one judge me for that. As I wrestle with the gravity of our situation sometimes it’s not easy to say it in sweet and soft language. Writing for me is therapy and for some, it will be a way to suffer with us. For those who are willing, I welcome you.
Since February my wife Andrea has been dealing with a personal issue in her body. She was experiencing an annoying leakage that is not normal. We had been doing fertility treatments in an attempt to get pregnant and just figured it was a weird side effect. When it didn’t stop after the treatments, we began consulting a wide range of doctors. The doctors assured us there was nothing wrong and it was merely hormonal or some other minor issue. For months we have been bounced back and forth between doctors who insisted it was nothing. So, we listened to the doctors and went along, annoyed, but hopeful that one day it would all be fixed. A few weeks ago we consulted a surgeon, who once again thought nothing of the issue but wanted to move forward with getting it fixed. She determined that it would be prudent to have a mammogram and an MRI just to get them out of the way. Originally, we were to wait 3 months before doing these scans but we elected to get them over with.
So… on Monday Andrea went in to get scanned.
After the radiologist read the reports she immediately told Andrea to schedule an appointment with the surgeon. We scheduled it for the next day. Tuesday we went to meet with the doctor, not knowing exactly what to expect. She showed us the scans. As I stared at the images all I could see was there was something in one that was not in the other. The doctor kept using terms I didn’t understand but after her long speech she took my wife’s hands, I could see the redness in her eyes and pools of water beginning to form. At that moment, it began to hit me.
This is worse than what we’ve been told.
The doctor immediately called for a biopsy and another mammogram. Andrea was directed down a hall away from me and I was led to the waiting room where I sat in silence.
After awhile Andrea emerged and we went home. Scared, worried, hopeful, confused. We were told we would not get the results until Thursday. Wednesday was the longest day of my life. We talked a lot about outcomes. We cried, we held each other, I kissed her and we waited. Thursday I had to go help run VBS while my wife sat a home alone. Honestly, there is a part of me that feels guilty for leaving her. In my heart, I feel I should have been there when she got the news. However, we didn’t want to cause any alarms or be forced into conversations and questions we couldn’t answer. The drive home was long. Kenwood road seemed to stretch on for miles. It seemed so much longer than I remembered. My mind wandered into dark places and fears.
Then I walked in to the house.
I could tell by the look on Andrea’s face it wasn’t good. She informed me the biopsy came back positive that she has cancer. If that wasn’t enough, we were also informed it is in her lymph nodes, which is an indicator that it is moving. The doctor told her that if it has moved throughout the body it is treatable but not curable.
My mind raced. “What does treatable mean?” I feared the worst. I feared it was P.C. doctor talk for, “You are on the clock and will die.” My heart and soul broke. I couldn’t breathe. I held my wife tighter in those moments than I ever have in my life. One of my greatest fears in life is losing her. She in not just my wife but my soul mate. Not in some superficial, Hollywood movie kind of way but in a deep rooted, soul knitting way. She informed me we needed to have a full body scan and a bone scan to see how bad it is and that we had to go back to the doctor’s office that afternoon to meet with a nurse about the procedure. I excused myself for a brief moment to go into our basement where I collapsed and cried. The pain was so much I couldn’t make a noise, I just felt the drops of tears pouring down my face.
My mind raced. “What does treatable mean?” I feared the worst.
The nurse informed us of the reality of situation. If the cancer has moved it is treatable but not curable. In my mind I thought this was a death sentence. I felt a pain in my heart that was more intense than any pain I have ever felt. However, she clarified that this did not mean potential death but that once it has moved they cannot guarantee it won’t come back. We could go into remission but we would never be considered cured. As we walked out of the office I hugged my bride and told her, “I’ll take remission over the alternative.”
Friday morning we both woke up early. Neither of us slept well. My eyes hurt from all the crying I had been doing and my body felt broken. At that moment I had resolved myself that it had moved. So, after dropping Eli off at some close friends house we headed towards the hospital. The first scan was the CT full body. As Andrea walked away into the recesses of the office I sat in the waiting room alone, staring at the floor and trying to pray. The words were not there. I didn’t know what to ask. I didn’t know how to ask it. I just stared at the floor and softly spoke to my King. I asked Him for comfort and strength. I asked Him to give me strength to carry my wife through this journey and reminded Him I trust Him regardless of the outcome. Andrea came back and we left and waited for the call.
We went to Five Guys for lunch. Sitting there at our table, eating what they call, “cajun fries,” I just stared at my wife. I tried desperately not to cry. Emotionally, I was ready to break down, to lose it but I didn’t want to do that in public. We got the call about 20 minutes later. Andrea looked at me and said, it was negative, there is no cancer in the other organs. We rejoiced, we cried and I held her hand as we drove off. I still find it ironic that I rejoiced over the phone call because we still have a diagnosis of cancer. I am learning to embrace the small victories.
Round one was over but we still had to do the bone scan. The bone scan took much longer but the results were the same. The cancer in not in her bones. When Andrea told me I was outside, we embraced in the bright sun of the afternoon and cried on each other. Now we know have a path to being cured. Now we know we have a chance to get rid of this monster which has infected her body. Now we have greater hope than we did just a few days ago.
“I’ll take remission over the alternative.”
Here are the basics that we know so far. Andrea has cancer in her right breast. It is an invasive ductal carcinoma stage 3. Eli calls it momma’s polka dot boo boo. (Based off a book the doctor gave us to read to him) I call it something else. It is not only there but has spread into the lymph nodes in the same region but it has not moved from there. We will begin consulting doctors this week about treatment. She will begin chemotherapy very soon and it will lead to surgery to remove the tumor.
I have decided that we will not walk in defeat. We will walk in the belief of victory. I don’t want to just look towards the victory over this foul beast but towards greater things to rejoice in. I have determined two things will happen when we defeat this cancer. I will stand on the balcony of a cruise liner with my wife and #looktowardsthesea. It will be a hashtag that I will use throughout this process. We will bask in the glory of God’s creation and rejoice over His glorious salvation. We will smell the salt air and cry over His redemption from this evil which has invaded her flesh. Second, I am going to get a tattoo as a commemoration of God’s grace in this situation. I will mark my body as a testimony, as an ebenezer, which I will raise high to proclaim His goodness to everyone who sees and asks. These are the things we look towards. We will look towards the sea and our declaration of God’s divine ability to walk with His children through pain, struggle and disease. To help people walk with us we have signed up for caringbridge which will give you easy access to the diagnose and treatment process. It will also help to answer people’s questions. We are hoping this will be a great tool for everyone to use that will shelter us from having the same conversation over and over again.
We will not be defined by this cancer
We will not be defined by this cancer. It will not be who we are but just a part of God’s story of redemption in our life. I know many people become angry at God during moments like this but we have not. We trust Him and believe in His sovereignty. We know that His ways are higher than ours and can already see His providence. I do ask that you join us in prayer. I do ask that, if you chose, you walk with us through this journey. I do ask that you do not shy away from contacting us and joining us in our suffering. God is still good even though this situation is not.