What It’s Really Like: An Update On Cancer

 

Today is another episode in, “I sat down to write a post and this is what came out instead.”

I had every intention on writing a post all about my favorite Target finds of the moment… and don’t worry, that’s still coming because I found some AH-MAZING things… but I couldn’t write it today. Instead, this is what came out…

I’m currently typing as I sit on our couch with the afternoon sun shining through the windows while Dolly fights with my computer for her preferred spot on my lap. She keeps batting at the keys like a cat, which is both comical and supremely annoying. I’m also balancing a hot cup of coffee which is proving to be a feat within itself. It’s the first afternoon in a while that feels calm in a good way, not in a “calm before the storm” kind of way, because let’s face it… we are already in the storm. ha.

Life around here lately has been less than boring, but at the same time extremely, painstakingly, slow. I receive e-mails, DM’s, texts, and comments daily from people wanting an update on our lives as we battle cancer and, to be honest, I’ve had the hardest time knowing what to say. 

Cancer is hard. Like really, really, really freaking hard. Chemo wreaks havoc on your body and watching someone you love deeply go through it is the cruelest form of torture. I’m sure of it. BUT, it’s also beautiful. Now don’t get me wrong, I/we want this season to be over, like SUPER OVER, but we’ve made a pact to soak it all in and seek the goodness along the way. When one of us is feeling like we want to give up, the other says “let’s find the good” and so that’s what we’ve been doing. Finding the good. Searching for it. Seeking it. And holding on tight to it.

Ryan is the strongest person I know and I promise that’s not a biased opinion. I’ve truly never seen anything like his strength in hard times. He’s superhuman. He walks into chemo treatments with a smile on his face, ready to fight, not the least bit delusional.  Even on his hardest days, and trust me, we’ve had hard days, he will say how thankful he is that we get to do chemo. When he’s shaking from the pain, drenched in sweat, he’s still a light. He’s everything I want to be and more. 

During his treatment we’ve had ALL the side effects.  You name it, we’ve been through it. That side effects booklet (yes BOOKLET) they gave me before the first treatment has become my new best friend. I find myself flipping though it daily thinking, “there is no way this is normal,” only to find out that, yes, toooootaaaalllly normal. This awful thing that’s happening is, 100% a-okay and to be expected. It’s bizarre. And even though we’ve done all the things, including calling the emergency oncologist (multiple times) at midnight panicking, most days you wouldn’t suspect a thing. He wakes up and says it’s a new day, let’s do it, and that’s just what we do, not knowing what the day will bring.

We’ve worked almost every single day, we go on long bike rides, have movie marathons, play board games, and sit on our front porch and watch the sunset. It has been magical and horrible and good.  That’s the only way to explain it. I’ve loved every second I’ve been his partner in this fight. Even on the days where I want to scream because it’s so hard, there is nowhere I’d rather be. Like I said, it’s hard and it’s good, but most of all, it’s life.

There is nothing surface or normal about what we are walking through.  We are arm and arm in the trenches and making it. We have stories to tell that would make you sob and some that would make you laugh till you cry. We are quite literally in the midst of our great story.  When we sit back and really see it for what it is, it feels big, worthy, and good. I’m proud of our fight.

I’m thankful for such a positive prognosis and light at the end of an extremely dark tunnel. I’m thankful for the conversations I’ve had with other patients receiving treatment alongside Ryan. The stranger’s hands I get to hold, their stories I get to hear, and their pain I get to share. There is nothing that will ever replace that connection, that emotional depth and growth. It’s the kind of life people who are really living live, the kind of life that can only begin in a chemo chair.

People often tell me that your life will start again after treatment, once Ryan is in remission, come Winter, our life will be ours again. But that’s where I think they’re wrong. Our life has never been richer, deeper, or more beautiful. Harder? Absolutely. But richer nonetheless. 

***

Logistically, we are looking forward to Ryan’s PET scan after his next chemo treatment, which will tell us whether we will continue with chemo or move ahead to radiation. Our prayer is to put chemo in the past, but time will tell. Also, the wonderboy that he is, he’s still holding onto most of his hair…But at his current fallout rate, we think those days are limited ; )

 

40 Comments

  1. Cathy
    August 17, 2018 / 5:57 am

    Ditto to your post. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer earlier this year. We have three boys 19, 15, and 13. He has completed 11 chemo treatments and one more to go then on to surgery. My husband has only missed a total of two weeks (one full week right after surgery the following week he worked part-time. Rest of his time missed has been the every two week chemo treatments.) He has taken a few trips for work and set through a six-sigma class and we took a vacation. Many people have asked, “Why is he still working? Why am I still working?” It certainly has not been easy and we’ve had an emergency rush to the cancer center on July 4th. We have learned to slow down (yes, we really have) and love deeper. The CANCER journey causes you to feel every emotion imaginable and still be grateful.

  2. August 17, 2018 / 7:51 am

    I have watched close family friends walk your path, and my aunt has ALS. They all have humor, my aunt has grace, but you and Ryan have both in spades. I want nothing more than this season to come to a close with a bang (hello, remission!), but I admire your attitudes and positivity as you hang on during the ride. I think about you both daily. ❤️

  3. Mary Frances
    August 17, 2018 / 7:52 am

    My father was diagnosed earlier this year with stage 4 prostate cancer… Watching a person you love suffer so greatly is intense, dreadful, and so painful. Torturous like you said, but I totally get where you’re coming from. There is a form of beauty in the complete realization that we are yet temporary beings. It does make you love deeper, prioritize life better and put aside selfishness. I’m genuinely praying for you and Ryan during this time and I deeply feel your pain. May God truly comfort you like only He can.

  4. Annie
    August 17, 2018 / 8:27 am

    I lost my sweet Momma to cancer almost a month ago. She battled hard for two years. Every cancer battle is so personal and raw and hard and beautiful. I’m praying for you and your husband in yours! Like really, I am praying. I know people say that all the time when they hear the “C” word, but please know it’s really happening. Praying especially that you both remember who God is even if you don’t understand what He’s doing. 🙂

  5. Amanda
    August 17, 2018 / 8:44 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. My husband and I have also found that struggling through a current season of a difficult health journey has made us slow down and appreciate the small things. I hope that the upcoming PET scan shows he can move on to radiation!

  6. Wanda
    August 17, 2018 / 8:52 am

    Girl, you are just a breath of fresh air. Your gift with words and your perspective regarding this journey are both incredible. It truly is a gift, one I wish I had. Keep it up. My prayers for strength and healing are with you.

  7. August 17, 2018 / 9:11 am

    You and Ryan are always in my thoughts and prayers. God is with you!

    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
    Jessica | whattostyle.blogspot.com |
    Instagram @ what_to_style

  8. Dr. Cindy Briggs
    August 17, 2018 / 9:12 am

    Ashley and Ryan…prayers for both of you! Your story is amazing and I know God is walking with you each step. Thank you for your authenticity in this journey. It helps us all remember to focus on what’s really important in life. Sending lots of love your way!

  9. Oscar
    August 17, 2018 / 10:06 am

    That’s my dude and friend. What an inspiring man he is. Love you guys!

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      haha! Yes he is!

  10. August 17, 2018 / 11:03 am

    Oh wow turn on the waterworks. I’m thinking and praying for you both. I love your outlook on life and finding the good, because it’s always there, even in the darkest times.

  11. Abigail
    August 17, 2018 / 12:11 pm

    Praying for you and Ryan, Ashley. Thank you for sharing your experience as you walk through this season – I am encouraged to focus on what matters most as you two do just that. Sending love from D.C.!

  12. Ryan’s mom
    August 17, 2018 / 1:00 pm

    God has and continues to write this love story. We are grateful for you in Ryan’s Life. Grateful for each new day. You know how to not take any day for granted. We love you both so deeply and feel this with you. Our prayers continually surround you. #TEAMRYAN

  13. August 17, 2018 / 1:51 pm

    I don’t even know you guys personally but man, this got me emotional! Praying for you both daily and I’m just really inspired by your positivity and optimism. I imagine that positivity is contagious with others too, so know that this difficult time in your lives is not in vain. So much love! <3

    briana | youngsophisticate.com

  14. August 17, 2018 / 2:31 pm

    Continuing to pray for you sweet friend!

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:42 pm

      Thanks Hannah!! xx

  15. Erica Miller
    August 17, 2018 / 3:15 pm

    You are both an incredible inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story and being such an encouragement to search and find the good in all circumstances. Praying for you both!!

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you for your encouraging note, Erica! Means so much! xx

  16. Karen
    August 17, 2018 / 4:19 pm

    Thinking of you and Ryan. You are resilient, thoughtful and kind. Keep on doing what you two are doing! Wishing Ryan strength and the best outcome!

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:40 pm

      Thanks, Karen! You are the sweetest!

  17. Kristina Rhodes
    August 17, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    You and Ryan are the real deal and your story is what little girls dream of, it’s true love. Love that would climb any mountain and go into any battle. That kind of love is powerful and what our world desperately needs. Thank you for sharing so vulnerably in the midst of this storm. Your love is beautiful. Grace and peace to you both.

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      Kristina! Oh my gosh, yes. Thank you so much for your sweet note. Means the world. xoxo- AB

  18. Melissa
    August 17, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    Oh sweet Ashley. What a story. God is truly in the center of you and Ryan and both of you are so inspirational. ❤ Praying for you both extra hard this weekend.
    xoxo,
    Melissa

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you Melissa! Means the world.

  19. Yaz
    August 17, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    I know exactly what you are going through. Sometimes when we are caring for someone else, we forget to care for ourselves. Be sure to also take good care of yourself in the process. It’s necessary. Stay strong, and positive. Sending hugs. ❤️

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:38 pm

      Thanks, Yaz, and you are totally right! Thank you for the sweet reminder

  20. Jamie O.
    August 17, 2018 / 9:36 pm

    I can’t read your brave posts without thinking of my dear cousin, whose now 9 year old daughter I just put to bed in my guest bedroom, and her recent battle with cancer which ended with her passing almost four years ago. I send you and your husband both positivity and light in this battle. If you’re so inclined to learn about my cousin Terri, and her fight with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, here is her blog, which my mother carries on today, to be published in book form in the very near future: http://gracefulwomanwarrior.com Please don’t feel obligated though, do what is best for you your husband in the now. Your posts just keep Terri alive for me, so I wanted to send that along.

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:38 pm

      Thank you so much for your sweet note, praying for your family! We are all in this together!

  21. Africa James
    August 18, 2018 / 1:29 am

    Thank you! for the update 🙂 still standing and praying for you all. God Bless

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:37 pm

      Thanks Africa! xx

  22. Kelly
    August 18, 2018 / 8:03 am

    May God continue to bless you both. Sending love & all the prayers from Ohio.

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 6:37 pm

      Thank you Kelly! xx

  23. August 18, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    Praying for you and your hubby Ashley, and so encouraged by your strength, positivity, and valor as you fight toward victory over this illness. Running your own business is hard enough as it is, let alone in the face of such a trying season. You’re an inspiration! May you be so, so blessed!

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:48 pm

      Thank you, Alyssa! You are so kind.

  24. Gayle Middleton
    August 19, 2018 / 12:12 pm

    Precious Ashley and Ryan, we have known Ryan and his family for many years, and certainly were jolted when we heard of his cancer prognosis. We will be lifting all of you up before the Father in prayer trusting in His power to heal and knowing He will be ever present as you and Ryan trust Him every step of the way. You are such a light and inspiration! Sending lots of love to you!

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:47 pm

      Gayle, thank you for your sweet note. Means so much! xx

  25. August 20, 2018 / 8:57 am

    You are precious in His sight and in ours. Hang in there. Praying for you to pull through this.

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:46 pm

      Thank you, Sally! xx

  26. April
    August 20, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Still sending thoughts and prayers for you both. Stay strong

    • Ashley Brooke
      Author
      August 24, 2018 / 5:46 pm

      Thank you April! xx

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