So we had our first of many visits with our Breast Surgeon today. If there is one thing I have learned in my lifetime it’s that nothing normal ever happens to me. I mean nothing. Whenever God was giving out good luck genes, He some how figured I would never need any. Anyways, I digress. So we get to the hospital to register for our meeting. We had the joy of meeting a lady who was from Texas. It’s always nice to meet someone who fully understands just how hot it gets in the south. After some small talk we left the desk to go have the joyous conversation with the financial department.
The area we were directed to is called, “financial counseling.” This is a nice way of saying, “We understand you’re poor….don’t worry….we will gladly take your pocket lint, life savings and Starbucks petty cash.” We answered all those uncomfortable questions about salaries and such and then we signed forms. The lady across the desk, who was very nice, informed us we would have 24 months to pay off our debt to the medical gods. I giggled inside. I thought to myself, “Unless you expect me to win the lotto, suddenly make some very wealthy friends or have a career change, I’ll be paying you in scraps till my son get’s married!” I also thought it would be funny to bring all my payments in pennies but I don’t want to be, “that guy.” Plus, after my bride defeats the foul beast, she would kill me. The lady tried to encourage us that the hospital would most likely give us some discounts. That sounds nice but as we walked away I commented, “Doesn’t matter what the discount is, we are still hitting our max out of pocket….they’re just going to save the insurance company some money.” Come to think of it, if that happens, we should get an award for taking the time to help out those poor, hurting insurance companies.
As a side note: I would like to lodge a formal complaint to the individuals who run the coffee shops around the hospital. Apparently they can close down at anytime.It is vital that I get some java before I meet with doctors. They should know this! (I was forced to get a monster energy drink but it was pink….so at least I was supporting Breast Cancer awareness.
When we got back to the doctor’s office, we noticed that everything had gone dark. See , what did I tell you….nothing normal happens to me. People were scurrying around trying to figure out what was going on. There were only a few emergency lights on and at that moment we figured we would have to reschedule our appointment. However, I was wrong. One of the nurses, who has been a blessing since we met her, found us on the stairs and told us we could still have our meeting. They led us down multiple hallways till we found a room with just the right ambiance. The only light that penetrated the office was from the hallway. It was nice mood lighting for conversations that were about to transpire. First meeting…..genetic counseling.
I’ll be honest, most of the genetic counseling conversation went straight over my head. I am forever grateful that I married an intelligent woman. The counselor showed us big graphs that were colorful and well organized, the problem is that I had no idea what the words meant. Give me a Greek word and I can break it down, hand me a script and I can create a character, put a bunch of, “sciencey,” words in front of me and I am lost. My wife kept nodding her head as we listened. I lowered mine and pretended to be in deep contemplation.She and the counselor had sweet moment where they both confirmed their understanding of DNA structure. I looked at the picture and thought, “Hey….where have I seen that before…of yeah…Jurassic Park!” At that moment I sure could have used that video with the dancing DNA strand. At one point the counselor pulled our a huge graph with pink colors. I leaned in to get a good look at it as she drew lines and made squares over specific indicators they would be looking for in Andrea’s DNA. The reality is that my Bride may have the perfect genetic cocktail for cancer. If that is the case, we will now have the tools and knowledge to help out our families and prevent another cancer scare.
This is a nice way of saying, “We understand you’re poor….don’t worry….we will gladly take your pocket lint, life savings and Starbucks petty cash.”
After our meeting with the Genetic Counselor, it was time to talk with the Breast Surgeon. I felt pretty privileged because we didn’t to go to her office, she came to us in our dimly lit ambiance. She began to explain to us the reality of our situation. They determine a few things when they look at tumors, one is size and Andrea has a big one…almost 6cm. Currently it’s only a guesstimate but that is still freaking huge (that would be the proper medical term from Joshua’s Book for slow people who don’t know science stuff.) All cancer cells feed off of something in the body. Breast Cancer cells typically feed from one of three female hormones. Andrea’s feeds off of all three but it’s most prevalent in the HER2. Just 5 years ago this would have been disastrous news but our surgeon indicated that now there are drugs that can specifically attack it and these drugs are like a, “silver bullet,”. I liked the sound of that. The stupid cancer in her body is like a monstrous, foul smelling werewolf. We’re coming for you Scruffy and it aint gonna be pretty.
We also learned that Andrea will definitely lose her hair. I know that this will be a tough thing for her. It doesn’t matter how much I tell her she is beautiful. It doesn’t matter how much I assure her that she will always be my definition of beauty. It’s still going to bother her. I wish I could give her a glimpse into what I see. Yes, my wife is beautiful, but she is so much more than skin and bone. Her beauty transcends the physical. Her physical beauty is merely a container for her soul. Yes, I am quite attracted to her but I fell in love with who she is, not just what she looks like. Besides, she married a man with scars all over his body and half a butt cheek from surgeries to repair my legs. I am not exactly Brad Pit or Tom Cruise. She definitely got the raw deal in the visual department of our marriage. I told her a few days ago I would shave my head for her. I am not sure if that will make her feel better or not. It may be traumatic for her to have to look at my shinny noggin everyday. We will cross that bridge soon. However, if it will make her smile, if it will give her peace, If it will make her feel beautiful….the Broughton’s will both go bald! (and yes, I will post pictures….so we can all giggle together.)
So the surgeon moved to the conversation of mastectomy. We still don’t know if we will be forced to do a single or a double. Some of the decision may just be a personal one for my wife, however, the genetic testing may indicate that it is a necessity. As the surgeon talked about all the realities of the surgery and reconstruction, she kept reminding us that a lot of the decision is based on my wife’s personal comfort. At this point, my desire is that she is healed both physically and emotionally. As we consider the issues at hand, I want her to know that, regardless of the type of reconstruction, I am here with her. I also want her to know that I am okay with whatever she decides. Honestly, I just want her here……for a very long time.
The stupid cancer in her body is like a monstrous, foul smelling werewolf. We’re coming for you scruffy and it aint gonna be pretty.
We had some other tough discussions with the surgeon about the realities of chemotherapy and moving forward but to those issues, I will remain silent. I will say that this cancer stuff is causing us to consider huge, life altering, decisions that we will live with the rest of our days. We also found out she will need to do some radiation therapy. I always knew my wife was hot, now she is going be radioactive! Here is what we know. Recovery is going to take about a year to complete. That seems like a long time but it gives us plenty of opportunity to plan out that cruise we are going to take. Our surgeon and a group of other doctors are meeting soon to discuss our case and the best course of treatment. Because of Andrea’s age, there are a few options to consider with how to proceed. We will also meet our Oncologist on Thursday. Once we meet with him, the ball will really get rolling. For now, we wait and enjoy our time together. We are rejoicing over God’s hand of providence , which we have already seen. We are falling deeper in love with each other as we walk this journey to being cured and we keep our eyes wide open to that great vast ocean we will see one day as we #LookTowardstheSea.