One year ago today, I was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital with my step daughter Chelsey and John’s twin brother Tony waiting to hear the results from his surgical biopsy. One look at his surgeon’s face as he lead us into the “bad news” room confirmed my greatest fears. Hearing the word “cancer” is always terrifying, but as the weeks passed and the diagnosis became metastatic melanoma (which meant it was inside his lymphatic system), it got more and more scarey.
In the past year, as we’ve navigated physicians, clinical trials, travel to and from Seattle, debilitating side effects, insurance battles, and huge life changes, I’ve experienced loss on many levels.
This summer, I lost John for all intents and purposes for about six weeks. He was just not there, as he went inside himself to do what he needed to do to deal with the physical fallout of poisoning his body. At his lowest point, I looked into his eyes and pleaded, “Just promise me you’re still in there.” It was heartbreaking and frightening.
I lost myself for the better part of the summer as well, as I held on by a thread and took it one day (sometimes one minute) at a time. I cared for him and dealt with all of the things that went along with his cancer while still doing my best to be a mom, daughter, coach, and entrepreneur. I didn’t realize how much I’d lost myself until I came back. Over the past few months, as he’s felt more like himself, I’ve also come to realize just how much we live in partnership in our day to day lives and how much he does for me and us, from laundry to dishes to making the bed and lots of other little things in between. When those all fell on my shoulders, it was a bigger adjustment than I even realized at the time.
I lost a summer with my boys, since there was precious little left for them once everything else got handled every day. For about two weeks in July, I wasn’t even physically here due to John’s hospitalization. They are great kids and stepped up, but it was still a loss for all of us.
I know I also gained so much (you can read about that here) and continue to be grateful for who I am becoming through dealing with this. Today, as we mark this anniversary, I’m happy to report that I haven’t cried about John’s cancer in over a month. He’s feeling great and we’ve managed to beat back the melanoma temporarily because of the drug he’s on. Even though they don’t call it this, he’s essentially in remission at present. We’ve been told it could last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, but that the cancer will eventually find a way back.
Maybe so, but for right now our lives are back to normal and we’re living with cancer instead of letting it define our every waking moment. With the loss of a friend who was diagnosed with lung cancer in April and passed yesterday, after six months of horrible side effects and pain, I’m feeling pretty blessed that we’re where we are right now. As John says, we have so much to be grateful for.
As always, I’ve appreciated your supportive messages, texts, thoughts, and prayers. They have gotten me through more than one seemingly unbearable day, I have no doubt. Thanks for all that you’ve done over the past year to support us.