"I have some bad news. You have cancer."
He may have said it differently... but that was the core message. Simple. Direct. To the point.
And everything changed for us.
The rest of that appointment and indeed the year has become a blur of learning more about cancer, medicine and the medical system than I ever expected to learn at this age.
My wife, who at the time was in the best physical shape she'd ever been in, proceeded down a path where she lost her breasts, lost her mane of hair, lost parts of her memory, lost her stamina, lost her ability to quickly process things in her mind, lost her physical health... and basically lost a year of her life.
The good news, of course, is that she didn't lose her life, and that as a result of the treatments she's undergoing and the fact that they caught the cancer early, she's got a very strong chance of being around for many more years. Her cancer was "only" Stage 1 Invasive Breast Cancer, and could have been so much worse had it not been detected.
Intellectually, that's easy to say. Emotionally, it's a lot harder. It's been a hell of a year.
And the journey is not over. She's still got another 7 months of Herceptin treatments... and another 4 years after that of daily Tamoxifen pills (that she is also taking now), both of which have their own troubling side effects. And as we've learned, you're never really "cured" of cancer. You win battles, but the war inside your body continues.
A year ago, the big C invaded our life and became a thoroughly unwelcome houseguest. Now we just have to continue learning to live with it...
Some of the articles I've written about our journey with cancer, in chronological order:
- Of Inverted Nipples... and Breast Cancer
- Of Surviving Breast Cancer... And The Choices Therein
- The Hellacious Purgatory of Waiting
- And So The Waiting Ends - With Chemo...
- The Frustration of Breast Cancer: Dealing With Hypotheticals And Going On Faith
- The Incredibly Tedious Monotony of Chemotherapy
- My Wife's Interview About Breast Cancer In The Keene Sentinel
- On To The Next Sledgehammer In The War On Breast Cancer...