At the end of May I was invited into a very select club, one I didn’t want to belong to but this is one time you don’t get to decide. Once the decision is made there’s no turning back. I joined millions of people with spouses that have cancer.
It all started when Don got a cold. Within a few days he had a fever of 104 and a few days after that he couldn’t move without struggling to breath. A trip to the doctor, an x-ray and he was admitted with pneumonia and a pleural effusion. They tried to go in with a needle to drain the fluid with no luck so the next morning he was in surgery. They drained about 1 liter of fluid but the lung wouldn’t expand so an incision about 5 inches long was made in his back between 2 ribs so they could peel the gunk off the lung. Surgical glue, chest tubes and he was back in his room breathing easier than he had in 2 weeks.
Six days later I got the call that everything was fine and he was going home. Great news and I was on top of the world when I walked into the hospital but then the bottom fell out. The pulmonologist put his discharge on hold and came in to tell us that the pathology report of the solid material they got from his lung contained cancer cells. Adenocarcinoma to be exact and it’s the type that started in the belly in the glandular system. Abdominal CT Scan and an endoscopy to see if they could find anything came back clear. Our attending called me in Don’s room several times that day and kept saying that things just don’t add up. The preliminary pathology report was normal and now this. I waited as long as I could at the hospital waiting for the oncologist to come in but eventually I had to go home to take care of 3 puppies. About 10:30 that night Don called, the oncologist just left and said he definitely had cancer and he’d have this for the rest of his life. It will eventually kill him but nobody knows when. They still can’t find the site of origin. The next day I got to meet the oncologist who told us that a blood test for tumor markers called CA 19-9 was 1081 where normal is 37 or below. This means it’s pancreatic cancer.
A PET Scan done a few days after Don was discharged, the scan that was going to tell us where the cancer started came back normal. So, Don has a cancer of unknown origin that began someplace in the pancreatic/biliary system but they can’t find it. Time for a second opinion.
The second opinion did more CT Scans and this time it did find some mediastinal hylar lynph nodes that are enlarged. What this means I have no idea but the oncologist is positive that it’s cancer. His CA 19-9 has elevated to 11,000. Right now the diagnosis is pancreatic cancer with mets to the lining of the lung. Time for treatment.
It was suggested that he go aggressive. As it was explained Don’s in fairly good health (except for this pesky cancer) so he can tolerate the aggressive treatment better now then if they wait and do a more mild cocktail. He’s going to have a Groshong Catheter inserted on Friday and the first chemo is 1 1/2 weeks later.
What does this mean for me. It means I’m mad. I’m crying all the time. I want my husband back. I want him to be pain free. I want him to be able to move without struggling for air and I want to be able to plan our future. I feel guilty for thinking about how MY life is being disrupted but this is OUR life and we’re in this fight together. I plan on being there every step of the way. I’m going to be there when they tell him that the CA 19-9 is going down. I’m going to be there when they tell him the lymph nodes are smaller and I plan to be there in 38 years when we celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.
We have God on our side and we can see His hand in all of this. We know he’s the ultimate healer and He can work miracles. We WILL be victorious over cancer and kick it’s butt.
I want to get out of this exclusive club. I want to wake from this nightmare that’s now my life.