When cancer is in your life
The first part of our story: Survivng Cancer Part 1
This writing is expressing the emotions I had and how I struggled when my husband had throat cancer.
The next day we went to the doctor yet again to hear how bad things might be because we knew they weren’t going to be good. He had Squamous cell carcinoma that had metastasized to his lymph node. The doc said it probably started in his tonsil and close to it and advised surgery as soon as possible to take his tonsil out and anything else that looked bad.
That alone didn’t sound too bad, but then we were told he needed a radical lumpectomy to remove all the lymph nodes on that side of his neck. There was going to be some disfigurement (we learned later from someone else). There was a risk that the doctor and his surgeon friend, (huh?) could accidentally nick the nerve that enables the arm to lift above the shoulder. John was in construction; that was all he did all his working life. Surgery was scheduled, and we left.
I look back and feel so bad for how I behaved on the way home. I didn’t try to comfort John with any kind words, I just sat there, thinking and numb. Our life was already falling apart, everything we spent 25 years of marriage building. Now I needed to be strong to go through sickness. What??? 50 is way too young to be dealing with this. All our friends were healthy and living it up, enjoying their kids and having grandkids. I thought of my children and how they had grown and the happiness they brought to my life. John and my children were the most important. But now I have to watch them see their Dad go through this, that’s not happiness. I knew I was going in circles in my thoughts. I knew I didn’t like the doctor, nor did I trust him.
I told John this, and we talked about getting his sister, who was an RN, to speak with the doctors she worked with to see if this was the right treatment. As I’m typing this, it sounds like time flew by but it felt like it was moving very slow. We called his sister, and the first thing she said was that you always get a pet scan for cancer to make sure it hasn’t metastasized or spread anywhere else! And the doctor never mentioned or planned it. So aside from googling everything on his biopsy report that I didn’t understand we made plans to go to a reputable hospital that had specialists that most local hospitals did not.We weren’t going to mess around with this. It was not going to get the best of us.
We took all our records to this hospital, and John had the pet scan done. We anxiously awaited the appointment with the surgeon, cancer doctor, and radiologist to hear their plan. I worked with a friend who’s husband had major health issues, and they went to the same hospital. She was impressed with everything there and asked me why I would even consider going anywhere else. That was the confirmation I needed.
In the back of my mind, I was wondering how I was going to pay the mortgage if he couldn’t work. What if John doesn’t make it? I kept telling myself to stay strong. It will work out even though my gut was wrenching at this point.