Saturday, July 31, 2010

Whoo-hoo! July is OVER!

So, July (& the last five days of June) goes down as one of the more interesting months of our lives.  Terrifying, hopeful, uncertain, overwhelmed, faithful, supportive, loving, horrible, and just about any other "feeling" word you can think of.  It seems I've been through them all.

On the outside Mike is so positive and upbeat & looks great.  The "same ol' Mike", albeit more tired.  On the inside though, he must be going through most of what I have, but on an even larger scale.  This past month has made us stronger in our relationship.  It was pretty damn good to begin with, but going through something like this really puts things into perspective.  It's kind of cliche, but it's true.

August will be a fresh start of our "new normal".  There will be more uncertainty & waiting and more wondering what the future will hold, but we shouldn't have another shock like the one that started this whole thing.  We kind of have an idea of the direction this could take.  Two out of three of them aren't aren't great.  We're praying for the other one.

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30

What a month this has been!  Reflecting back it's like three lifetimes crammed into 5 weeks.  I'm so glad I decided to start the blog.  I can remember what it felt like to be told Mike had cancer, but I won't always be able to bring that feeling back.  Kind of like childbirth, I guess.  If you could really remember how much pain labor and delivery is, everyone would be an only child.  

Through all of this I have been reminded over and over again how fortunate I am to have the life I do.  Friends, family, acquaintances, even people we have never met putting forth so much effort to support the four of us.  I look at Mike and see how much he loves me and the kids.  I know he'll do whatever it takes to be here with us.

Right now we're in a pretty good place with no more news expected until August 18.  After that we'll see where we go next.  In the meantime I'll try not to think about the uncertainty that surrounds us and instead focus on what I am certain about.  I love my husband, my kids, family & friends and appreciate all they bring to my life.

Now I'm headed upstairs to watch a movie & have some ice cream with the family.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lymph Nodes really are clear!

Found out today from the surgeon that the second pathology on the nodes confirmed they were in fact clear of any cancer cells!  At least that piece can be put to rest now and for that I am thankful & in a much better mood than I have been the last few days.

Today we received paperwork in the mail from the genetic counselor.  Information such as maternal & paternal grandparents, parents & siblings, their current age & age of cancer diagnosis if applicable.  This information will then be reviewed by the genetic counselor who will then determine if Mike should come in for genetic counseling.  We'll get that in the mail tomorrow and then wait.  Again.

We figure the rest of our lives will be spent waiting for one thing or another, but I imagine that will eventually become routine.  Another "new normal".

Until then, I'm going to focus on figuring out what we're going to do on our family vacation in August. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Better today - sort of

Warning to those of you still following the blog - I'm just doing more complaining today...

I seemed to be the only person having a hard time yesterday dealing with the great news about Mike not having to go through chemo.  Everyone who has been on this journey with us was so excited to hear it, but I just couldn't get there.  What is wrong with me that I'm not happier about the news?  I've been struggling since yesterday to try and make sense out of what I actually am feeling.  Some of it I'm almost afraid to put on the blog because of how it might be interpreted.  Maybe today will just be saved as a draft.  We'll see.

Of course I don't want Mike to go through anymore than he has to and chemo would certainly be a rough road.  However, a small part of me wishes we were dealing with Stage II, then Mike could get chemo and we would know there is nothing left of the damn cancer.  How horrible of a thought is that???  To wish my husband had Stage II cancer instead of Stage I?  By being Stage I and not having any additional treatment available there is a lingering concern that all of the cancer cells from the polyp were not removed.  I know he'll have frequent colonoscopies and there is talk of doing a PET scan to check other areas of his body, but I want this thing fixed NOW.  I don't want another 2 or 3 or 6 months of waiting around for more answers.  I guess I need to learn how to deal with the information I have at the moment and move on.  Easier said than done.

There is so much out there about not living in fear of cancer once you've gone through it. I guess I'm not there though.  I'm fearful about cancer cells left behind from the polyp.  I don't want to spend the rest of our lives afraid of something that may or may not come back.  I'll get there eventually I imagine - just need to have more faith.  In the meantime I'm working on getting through this weird loneliness I feel because I'm not as excited as everyone else.

I guess I'll post this anyway.  I'm feeling a bit better than I was earlier and I need to keep reminding myself that this is a process.  All of the feelings I have are OK to have - maybe even "normal".   Without saying it outright, Mike made me realize I'm also taking this frustration with myself & the situation out on the kids even though that's the last thing I want to be doing.  When we first had the diagnosis, we spent the next two weeks leading up to surgery by spending as much quality time together as we could. We had a lot of fun despite what was looming just ahead.  I need to go back to that and enjoy this time we have before the next scheduled doctor appointment in mid-August.  Instead of focusing on all that I am afraid of and have no control over, I should be focusing on what's most important.  Mike is here, surgery was successful, we have an outstanding support system, our kids are happy, our faith is strong and we will continue to fight until we win this battle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Chemo

Mike & I just got back from meeting with the oncologist.  Based on the original findings, Mike is rated at a T2,N0 - or Stage 1 colon cancer.  That alone is HUGE considering there was some time spent thinking he was Stage 3, but hoping for Stage 2.  We still don't have the results of the second biopsy that was done on the nodes, but Dr Arbaje didn't seem overly concerned about that.  Apparently, I'm the only one that is.  For some reason I'm having a hard time just accepting things as they are and I wish I knew why. 

Actually, I think I do know.  I think I was hoping for a concrete answer, which I should have known wouldn't happen based on the ups and downs of this past month.  I wanted to hear "this is the treatment, it will take this long and we will follow-up with scheduled screenings".  Instead we were told that while the main tumor that was removed and the surrounding areas are no longer an issue, the polyp that was removed from the lower end of Mike's colon and tested positive is of concern.  However, because Mike is only Stage 1, chemo is not an option despite concern there may be cancer cells left from the  polyp.  In addition, there is still the genetic counseling and subsequent testing to be done at a later date.

I am absolutely thankful the surgery went so well and the tumor is gone and it appears the lymph nodes were not involved so Mike won't have to go through the horror of chemo.  I guess I'm struggling with not having a specific plan.  You'd think I'd have learned by now - it is what it is.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meeting the next "team member"

Tomorrow Mike and I will meet with Dr Arbaje, the oncologist.  Don't really have any idea of what to expect because it could realistically be just about anything.  Hopefully we will find out if the lymph nodes are in fact clear, or if pathology found something that had been missed before.  I feel like I'm going in circles sometimes.  It could be this or it could be that.

It's funny, though, how life really does just go on again.  Here we are dealing with what is easily the biggest crisis of our lives, but honestly, it does become the "new normal".  We took the kids to the pool today, Cal had Cub Scouts tonight, we ate a great dinner that, once again, someone else made for us.  Mike is worn out tonight though.  Swimming took more out of him that maybe he thought it would and as far as the kids are concerned, "daddy is back".  With the staples out, Mike driving again, etc it's easy for Cal & Zoey to forget about the last month.

I don't like waiting & wondering what the news will be tomorrow, but it can't possibly be worse than what we heard on June 25.  So, I'll hold on to that and know that once again, we will get through whatever comes next.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ready to get on with it

I debated about updating the blog over the last few days while I was away for a long weekend with friends.  I decided against it for a few reasons.  Probably most importantly was that I didn't NEED to write things down this weekend.  Thanks to Michelle & Maureen I could pretend that life was normal for a few days.  Not that my normal life includes hitting multiple wineries in two days and experiencing an incredible concert by one of my favorite singers.  I am grateful to both of them for humoring me when I mentioned anything about our "cancer situation", which I REALLY tried not to do.  Good wine, good food & girl time was just what I needed to recharge.

Being in a small venue (maybe 300-500 people) to hear Nadirah Shakoor sing was amazing.  She is beautiful inside and out, graceful & gracious & has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard.  There were a few times I really wished Mike was with me, especially during certain songs, but I didn't let those thoughts get in the way of appreciating the moment.

I also am incredibly thankful that I have a husband who encouraged us to go despite everything else that is going on.  More.

I'm ready to get on with it.  We meet with the oncologist on Tuesday and go from there.  Right now I am feeling more than "cautiously optimistic".