It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since I have written. A year ago, in May 2016, my husband John was in a terrible car accident. He was hit by a semi-truck on his way to work. He recovered quickly and was back to work by August. In January of 2017 John had his left carotid artery surgery and again recovered like a champ. From there life went on as it always does.
In 2016 before his accident we had finished remodeling our bathroom and kitchen. Doing most of the work ourselves. That’s just how we roll. We talked about how we need to tackle projects on the outside of the house and had planned on doing those in the spring and summer of 2016. But as luck would have it the accident occurred and life as we wanted came to a halt. So, we spent the summer and fall recovering and the rest of the cold months talking about what we were going to accomplish outside the house in the warmer days of 2017.
As soon as spring rolled around this year we began. New gutters and awnings. Painting the shutters and the garage. Biggest project was removing the old fence and replacing it with new fence we stained. Thirty panels in all. They were heavy and it was a huge job, but with our sons help we got it done. We talked about wanting to take a vacation with just the two of us, but we thought it more important to get these projects done so we would have time to relax later. Vacation could come in 2018 and we could celebrate my 50th, just the two of us.
This summer we spent lots of time in the pool as we do every summer. It is our get away. Very refreshing after a long day of yard work. In June of this year we finished the fence and it was about then that we really noticed John had a cough he just couldn’t seem to kick. In early-July I finally convinced him to go to the doctor. He went through 2 rounds of prednisone and anti-biotics and wasn’t getting any better. The doctor ordered him an x-ray and within 24 hrs I got the news the x-ray was not good. The doctor ordered a CT Scan with contrast and asked that I get his scan from last year’s car accident.
The first week in August John had his CT scan and again within 24 hours I got the call. A tennis ball size mass, swollen and clumped together lymph nodes and nodules that had grown 5 times in size. Last year during John’s accident they found nodules in his left lung. They said not to worry, its common, we will review them in a year. Now a year later they have grown from 4mm to 2.6 cm.
The Doctor’s words to me, “It doesn’t look good Julie, I am so sorry”. Within hours the pulmonary doctor called and he personally scheduled a biopsy. A very quick procedure. Within 15 mins the doctor came out to get me and said it is positive. John has cancer. He explained what he had seen and said because of the location of the cancer surgery would not be possible. He said he would call me, no later than Monday, to tell me the type of cancer.
John attempts to work on Friday but he just can’t. He goes in half a day and comes home. The pulmonary doctor had explained how his airway was being cut off, causing him to not be able to breath. Monday comes and I am at work and I get the call. Small cell lung cancer. For a minute, I felt my own breath leave my body. I felt like someone had just jumped on my shoulders. I couldn’t move or raise my arms (something that has been happening a lot since all this news). Everyone in the office was gone to lunch. I just sat in my office and cried, texted his sisters and sister-in-law, and cried some more. I eventually gathered myself and drove home to tell him the news.
All I kept thinking is how is this happening. Why does our family always go from good to bad? Why are we always put through these challenges? What are we going to do? And then those terrible unthinkable thoughts go through your mind. How will I live my life without the love of my life? Will he be around to see our boys get married? We he be around to see his grandchildren? All the thoughts you wish you could stop, but they fill your mind.
We met with the oncologist and John will be having a mri, pet scan, port installed and he begins Chemo on August 28th. He has already lost 12 pnds and is in pain. My heart is breaking into a million pieces and there is nothing I can do about it but pray.
Although he doesn’t want to talk about it, he is depressed, worried, and I am sure a bunch of other emotions. And then there are my boys. How do I keep their hearts from breaking? They both seem to be handling it well and in their own ways, but I continue to worry about them. I encourage all of them, including John, to talk about it if they want to. For the most part, they all just want to be around each other.
The hardest part is that we have not told his parents yet. His dad is 88 and fighting his own battles with cancer. John doesn’t want to hurt them or make them sad. Losing his brother of cancer in December 2015 was hard enough on his family. He feels that knowing this news would be too much for them to handle. We try to remind him that if it were his boys, he would want to know. I pray he finds the courage and strength to share with them soon. I can understand his position and feel for both sides. When he is ready, he knows I will be right there with him.
From what I understand so far about this cancer is it does respond well to chemo. The overall statistics are not high, but we are very hopeful for our future. We have been through hard times. We have lost all material things before, but somehow managed to hang onto our home. We are fighters, survivors and most of all we LOVE. Our love for one another got us through so much in life it is what will get us through this.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we begin this journey. A journey I know way too many of you have been on before.