I’ve been procrastinating on writing another cancer update, not because it’s “bad”, but because it just flat out wears me out… It’s long overdue, however, and I figured if I didn’t give out some new information my inbox might explode. So I’m here it is. It’s 9:16 on Wednesday night, just about 11 hours and counting from our next chemo treatment. I’m clad in my favorite sweatshirt and hunkered away in our tiny home office while Ryan is busy tying up loose ends around the house. He just brought me a cup of coffee (and a kiss) so I can keep my promise to you all and write an official update… But he knows all I really want is a giant glass of wine and a fluffy pillow.
Truth be told, the day before chemo is always a cruel mental test. Like the day before a long trip, it’s a mix of nervous energy and never-ending to-do lists… Except, you know, less fun.
This will be our 6th chemo treatment and by now I think we finally have a decent handle on the whole thing. I know what to expect, which snacks he likes during treatment, what smells he can’t tolerate (e.g. fabric softener), and the joke that always cheers him up when the chemicals start really working their horrible magic. It’s a dance, one we’ve been practicing for months now.
Even though each treatment brings a new terrifying side effect and a longer recovery time, each one also comes with the promise of further healing and a clearer view of the finish line. I know I’ve said this a million times, but Ryan has been nothing but positive, gracious, and thankful through this entire process. I thought I loved this man before cancer, but I don’t think it’s possible to love him any more than I do right now. Watching the grace he’s had as he’s walked this season has been one of the greatest honors of my life. I know many would say cancer is “unlucky”, but from where I’m sitting I feel pretty damn lucky.
Over the past few months we have been shown real love. The I’m–inconvenienced-but-I-don’t-care kind of love. The love that stops everything and just shows up. It has been more than I think most people experience in a lifetime. The way our family, friends, and neighbors have taken care of us has humbled us to our absolute cores. I will be forever grateful that we got to be on the receiving end of their selflessness. It’s safe to say that we’re both forever changed because of it.
Tonight, our church’s community group (small group/bible study group) Face-timed us and prayed for us, knowing we are, as always, unsettled the night before chemo. Ryan’s white blood cell count (WBC and ANC) dropped dangerously low after his 1st treatment. We’ve been under a house arrest of sorts since then, meaning no church, no crowds, and little fun. Every once in a while, when we start to lose our minds, we get a little “risky” and head out to a local coffee shop or a matinee movie. If you live around here and see a crazy blonde lady Lysol-ing chairs and Clorox wiping tables… It’s just me, don’t worry. We’ve taken to Early Bird Specials and game nights at our house where everyone wears masks. It has been a process and actually kind of a fun(ish) adventure.
Ryan and I are a team. I thought we were before this, but now we are on an Olympic level and I feel really proud of that. I can’t get enough of him and if I have to be locked inside 4 walls for months on end, putting together puzzles, then I want it to be with him. Like I said before, it’s horrible, but also pretty wonderful.
As for an official update, we didn’t get the exact news we wanted 3 weeks ago, but we still got great news. We were hoping after his last PET scan to move on to radiation, but after our follow up it was clear that the chemo was destroying the cancer (praise!!) though not enough to move straight to radiation. We would, in fact, need another 4 rounds of chemo. We were both oddly at peace about the news even as our hopes were deflated… We took that Friday and subsequent weekend off to rest and gear up for more fight.
Now, as we go into our 6th treatment, we are excited to get another one under our belt and antsy to get it over with. We cherish the friendships we’ve made in the chemo room. I have never, ever, seen a cheerleading squad so bright, so positive, or filled with more tenacity than in that room full of men and women fighting for their lives and each other. There’s never a dull moment and the bond that holds us all together is hope.
After this treatment we will have two more. Our last chemo is slated for October 18th. From there we will move onto radiation every day for 4-6 weeks. After that, we will be done. DONE. I still can’t believe I get to type those words. The greatest gift we will ever receive.
I have sooo much more to tell you, but I’ll wrap it up for now. Dolly’s please-play-with-me puppy eyes have reached a whole new level of sad. Before I go, I/we just want to thank you. Thank you so much for your prayers. They are, in fact, working.
P.S. I know what you are thinking and, yes, we are thinking it too… WHY DOES HE STILL HAVE HAIR?! It’s a mystery to us all, really. Truth be told, it’s falling out like crazy and it’s definitely thinning… but for some reason, he still has quite a bit! The doctor told us it should have been long gone by now, but we’ll take whatever miracles we can get. 😉
Photo Credit: Kirk Robert