The C word

The C word–such a scary word. Cancer.

The last month was difficult. A little over a month ago my husband suddenly had severe back pain that kept him from sleeping. He thought he might have kidney stones. We went to the emergency room and he got a CT scan that found inflamed lymph nodes in his abdomen. Who knew there even were lymph nodes there? Not me.

They thought he had a virus and weren’t sure why his back was hurting so much. They gave him pain meds and sent him home. Over the course of the next week the pain got worse and he went to acute care and back to the emergency room since the pain meds weren’t working. He was finally admitted to the hospital where biopsies were done, then a PET scan. The diagnosis came back–Cancer.

Luckily, the hospital we had gone to has a very good cancer center and we have a very good oncologist. He’s an older man and has a very calm manner and is willing to talk and answer questions. The type of lymphoma my husband has is very slow-growing. (Sometimes doctors just watch it for years before anything is done.) The back pain was caused by a small portion of the spine and rib which are also cancerous.

So much has happened since the cancer diagnosis: chemotherapy, radiation treatments for the back and he’s home from the hospital. This week he’s receiving the rest of his radiation and he’s pretty much pain-free. He will get three more chemotherapy treatments over the course of three more months.

He’s continuing to feel well and is very positive. I have a cold so I’m staying away from him. Our daughter who lives here is staying with us right now to help out. And our daughter in Illinois has come for a weekend. Our son who is in NYC calls almost every day.

So we are blessed with wonderful kids, a diagnosis that could have been much worse, a great oncologist, a great hospital.

But I have to admit hearing the Cancer diagnosis felt like a knock out punch. When I was a child and someone got that diagnosis it pretty much meant one thing: a painful death before too much time passed. It’s hard to get that image out of my mind even though I know great strides have been made on many types of cancer.

However, there are still many cancers which bring that death sentence. One of my husband’s cousins is bravely fighting her cancer right now. She started with Stage IV breast cancer two years ago. She had chemo and that held things in abeyance for almost two years. She has traveled (a trip to Ireland), spent time with her children and grandchild and other family and done many things she had put off. However, in August the cancer came roaring back–it’s now in her brain and in other parts of her body. She decided to aggressively treat it to buy some more time with her family. She came to a family wedding in Seattle at the end of September and is planning to be at the family Thanksgiving later this month. She’s an amazing, positive person who’s an inspiration to all of us–but especially to my husband and me.

The C word still scares me.