March 10th I felt my world stop…yesterday, I felt it halt again.
We optimistically walked through the front entrance of the oncology office expecting to hear good news that morning. That all changed when the doctor walked through the door of the examination room. He began by asking the normal questions: “How are you feeling John?” “Where is the pain?” “How is the at home draining going?” Then, there seemed to be a strange calm come over the room before the doctor opened his mouth again and we felt the storm hit. “It has progressed.” Those words hit both of us like a ton of bricks. Every ounce of breath was stripped from my body and I felt like I could not inhale. Progression…gradual advancement…forward movement…radiation had not done what we wanted it to do. We thought he was going to say something completely different. John, though battling the fluid in his chest and the pain, has been eating. Yes, eating more food than he has since February. We celebrate all of these little victories so of course, we thought this was the first step in his road to recovery. As my eyes flooded with tears, the questions began to pour out of my mouth. “How could this happen?” “What does this mean?” “What does the tumor look like now?” “I am so confused…” Just like that, I was then broken and the entire time I was asking the doctor questions, I was staring at John with such disbelief. My angel. How was he feeling hearing all of this? I felt so horrible in this moment for him. In those few minutes, our lives were turned upside down once again. The doctor began to explain how he wanted to proceed with chemotherapy and keep fighting. The size of the tumor could not be determined by the scan and another endoscopy will have to be done later.
We were escorted out to the main area to await the instructions for how chemo would go and what he could expect through full blown treatment. Even though we waited for just a few minutes, it seemed so excruciatingly long. Finally, it was explained that John would receive three kinds of chemotherapy treatment. Two full doses at the doctor on Monday and then a third would be administered continually Monday through Friday at home. It is the most aggressive form of treatment available and since he is so young, they believe he can handle the intake. The walk back to the car was somber as we held hands tightly in support of one another. As we walked through the front door and headed to our room, we both began to break down once again. We sat on our bed, cried, held each other and talked for hours about the results and steps to take next. “I want to fight…I want to fight for us,” he said. For us to be together forever. He is so incredibly brave and it is unreal how resilient his spirit has been.
So, this is where we stand. This is where John has always stood… never give up. It constantly runs through my head…could you blame him for being exhausted? For being tired of all the tubes and wires jetting out of his body? For dreading the 5 days straight of treatment that will be running through his body after the 25 bouts of radiation he just endured? For all the damn questions? I can’t. At the end of the day, he is undergoing everything and nobody else feels his daily struggles. No matter how much I, or any of us, wish to take some of it away from him, it just is not possible. More and more every day he amazes me and I would not want to be anywhere else but by his side in his support, showing him my unconditional love and being his rock when he feels like leaning. His vitality is unwavering and every second I have with him means more to me than he will ever know. There is still a long road ahead of us but one we are going to continue to battle head on.