John’s cancer journey has been a series of bumps in the road for us. We drive along smoothly for a while, and then hit a bump, adjust, and keep going. On Monday we got some pretty devastating news and John said as we walked out of the office, “Well, this is a little more than a bump. This is a zig zag.”
Since his Stage IV diagnosis, John’s had a large tumor on his upper left thigh. It’s gone up and down in size, but for the last 6 months or so, has hovered around 15 cm. It’s a very physical reminder of his cancer for us. This week, that took on completely new meaning as it quickly opened up and active cancer was basically exposed. His local oncologist told us Monday that it won’t heal and has to be removed. At best that probably means removing a large section of his upper thigh and a skin graft. At worst, he could lose his leg from the hip joint down.
His surgeon Dr. Byrd from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has looked at his most recent CT scan and is fairly confident that the latter option won’t be necessary. He did John’s surgery a few months after he was diagnosed in 2013 to remove 32 lymph nodes from the same spot where this new node has been growing for over a year.
John was pretty impressed that his case is being discussed by the entire team this week. I told him that, this week, HE’S “kind of a big deal.” So instead of him being “Mr. Julie Anne Jones” today, I’m “Mrs. John Reinkens” (if you know me at all, you get that joke). In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that he might possibly lose his leg. I was in complete shock when his doctor calmly informed us that this was 50% of the possibility equation.
I feel like cancer has already taken so much from him, this just seems huge. He reminded me the day after we got the news that it’s probably going to take a lot more before it’s done with him. It was a rare serious moment for him and broke my heart a little more than it’s already been broken (something I did not think was possible).
He was supposed to accompany me to the convention at which I’ve been speaking this week and then we were heading to the East coast today to visit my friend Nancy and her family and see some historical sites (Washington D.C. and Philadelphia) for a short vacation. Instead I’m flying home and we’re tying up loose ends in preparation for a very different Summer than we had planned this time last week. Camping trips and boating don’t seem too likely at present.
We see his surgical oncologist next Friday and as far as we know, his surgery will happen at Thursday June 25th at the University of Washington Medical Center. We will spend the week and a half prior to that day dancing in the kitchen, laughing, and enjoying every minute of our lives (like we do every day).
Then we’ll see where this zig zag leads us. It’s not a very fun adventure, but it’s ours.