We hit the cancer wall. We had had enough. We could not take any more talk or wrangling of treatment. We needed to get away…and a getaway is what we did. Last minute, late one night, John and I received a gift to leave everything behind to go on a cruise a week later. Revealed in the last post, John and I got the send off we really embraced and had been craving for a long time. Last Saturday, John and I made the drive to Miami the day before the cruise to not worry about the rush of the four hour drive the next morning. Wide eyed and bushy tailed, we were jubilant to begin the journey. We ate the cuisine and relaxed into our downtown Miami hotel room, ready to board our ship the next morning. The night quickly came and went, and all of a sudden…we were admiring the ship from the drive in. The mammoth beast floated before us in the most welcoming manner. Though the weather was dreary and grey, it did not seem to damper our spirits. The lines, customs, security, entrance photos, and emergency preparation seemed to fly by in a blink of an eye and we were…eating. Yes, we were on the boat a matter of what seemed like minutes and we were already eating. The “Liberty of the Seas” had not even left the Miami port and yes my friends, we were feeding our empty bellies. The groaning and growling was tamed by a buffet ranging from sandwiches, hamburgers, sea food, fruits, and foreign fare…to ridiculously colorful veggies I seemed to pile on my plate to make some sort of concoction with a mix of dressings. It all looked appetizing and every bit of it wanted to coax its way to my plate. We continued to make this our theme for the duration of the trip. I told you I would fatten John up while on the high seas and I made sure to take this mission to heart…as did he. We also made an agreement to turn off our cell phones and reconnect as husband and wife that week. There would be no discussion of cancer, doctors, illness, sadness, struggle, hurt, or anguish…only love. Food and love flowed in perfect harmony.
Days one and two were spent at sea with the majestic view from our balcony in tow. Every morning, noon and night, we made it a point to sit there and sip in the sea air and release it back into the ocean waves just as it came to us. John surprised me with a massage before porting on the third day in our first destination…St. Maarten. Just pulling into the port was breath taking as all we saw for two days straight was water. The green from the tree tops and mountains flooded our view as we welcomed the island into our field of sight. Day four we stopped in San Juan, Puerto Rico and day five we were in Labadee, Haiti. Just like St. Maarten, we walked for as long as we could in the overwhelming heat to explore and of course…eat. It had been quite some time since John had been out of bed and walking for lengthy strolls. He did beautifully. We did sit down and take plenty of breaks…per request of his wife…but decided not to attend any excursions to keep everything at our own pace. Day six was spent at sea and all we could do was look back at the week and be thankful for the time we had together on the “Liberty”. We hit the port early on the next Sunday morning and drove back home right off the port. A few short hours later, we were home. Home, sweet home. Everything about the trip was magical and the level of reconnection we experienced together cannot be described well enough to do it justice.
Returning to the swing of things was difficult. We leapt right into another week of chemotherapy. It was the very next day after returning from the trip of a lifetime that we had to continue with the grind. They gave John new nausea medicine for this fourth round and his vomiting was a little more controlled. There were only a few bouts of queasiness he had to overcome this week. Then…we got the call. Wednesday evening, before I walked out the door to run some errands as John slept, the gastro doctor called with the results of the biopsied portions of his esophagus. I came running upstairs and awoke John from his nap to then listen to the call together on speaker phone. Dr. Q continued by saying he had been trying to call us last week while we were on the cruise for the results…forgetting we were away. As he continued talking, our eyes met one another’s and that is when he said it. “…I biopsied the heck out of his esophagus and the results came back clear...” The source of the beast is gone…done…where this mess all started....John killed part of the bitch inside of him. He did remind us we were not out of the woods yet and we know there is still quite a fight left of battle. His liver and lymph nodes are still a great concern, but the source of the spreading is gone with no sign of its existence. It was the best feeling in the world to share that moment together and realize how far he has come. It is nothing short of a miracle. There is no other word to explain what is happening before me. More tears of happiness rolled down our cheeks and it was the boost of confidence he needed to finish out this week of chemotherapy strong. Celebrating each and every milestone together helps the journey seem more manageable and uplifting. We never asked for cancer…nobody ever does…but I will never ask why in damnation of it all. “Why?” should be stated or asked differently. There is a reason why we are on this journey. There is a reason why John was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. We will figure it out sooner or later, but for now, we keep pushing to clear the monster out of his body. It is an amazing feat.
That night, I personally had my break down. It was incredibly difficult to hear John only had three months to live in the beginning…then getting the news he was winning so far beyond anyone’s expectations after feeling as though we walked through the pits of hell these past five months. Emotionally, I lost it. Do you remember when you were a child? Take yourself back to when you were young and cried uncontrollably. Do you remember when you would cry so hard, you could not seem to catch your breath? Yes, that was me. I was just like a small child, who could not catch their breath, because the emotion was so overwhelming and nothing seemed to calm me down…except John. It has always been him…to make me laugh, cheer me up, take my hand, hold me close…to make it all go away. He did the same that night with the help of our stunning friend Michelle. I needed to feel those emotions to my core and release the ambiguous thoughts I had been carrying all this time. The mission was clear from the beginning but the destruction going on in my mind was a mess. My very own breakdown seemed to help clear things up a little bit and with this, the good news and my husband...clarity is looking better by the minute.
I have always explained to John he was going to beat this because I could not picture my life without him. There was never a lucid thought of being alone or a widow because I knew his vitality would overcome…and look…he is doing it. He is overcoming something many thought he would not. With the weight of the world on his shoulders...he is doing it and all I can do is watch in awe.