To make a long story short, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer in December 2016. He was only 40 years old and I was only 35, so as you can imagine, this was devastating news. Especially when the doctor gave us a prognosis of 3-5 years. Really? I'm going to be a widow at 40? Like wtf? How is this my real life?
In the meantime, he had surgery to remove the tumor and started doing radiation and chemotherapy treatments right away. In fact, when I started blogging again, we were staying at an apartment in Houston near M.D. Anderson, where he was receiving his treatments. Luckily, he actually did really well during the radiation treatments, which lasted 6 weeks. During this time, i took off work to be with him. In my spare time, I started the genealogy do-over as established by Thomas MacEmtee. I blogged a lot about my do-over efforts in the winter and spring of 2017.
We returned home from the radiation treatments in late March 2017, and I returned to work in early April. He continued to do well the first month we were home. He was going to occupational therapy to gain back the use of his right hand, which he had mostly gained back since the surgery in January. He continued to take chemotherapy treatments at home for five days once a month in pill form. I continued to blog.
But in the first two weeks of May, things changed again. His hand started going backwards. He had learned to button his pants again after the surgery, but he suddenly could no longer do it. We had actually taken him out of occupational therapy, thinking he was okay to just continue doing exercises at home. Things were very scary as we scrambled to find a new occupational therapy location, as the previous one we were using had closed the last week of April.
We also went back to MD Anderson in mid-May for his second MRI since radiation. He had an MRI in April that was questionable, but they said it could just be swelling from the radiation treatment. They told us the same thing in May, but this time they were leaning more towards new tumor growth, especially since his hand had started going backwards. They said we would have to come back in June for another MRI to be certain. In the meantime, we found a new therapy place that we quickly began to like much better than the previous therapy place. This was around the time I stopped blogging.
We went back in June, and this time the news was finally good. It showed that the chemotherapy was working. The questionable areas on the previous scans were simply swelling. He was starting to gain back some of what he had lost in his hand, though not quite as quickly as he did the first time. But overall, things were finally starting to calm down again and seemed to be going back to normal.
But in late June or early July, we started to notice that his right leg was getting weaker. He started having a hard time walking. We emailed MD Anderson, and they put him on more steroids. They said it was likely due to continued swelling in the brain from radiation. The steroids would help with the swelling. It became so bad that he had to start using a walker and cane by early August. He also started physical therapy at the end of July. Now he needed more help with daily tasks, such as getting dressed, showering, and fixing his dinner plate. And of course, I was doing all the household chores and all the driving.
We returned to MD Anderson in August and October, and the MRI results were once again good both times. They even started to wean him off the steroid in October. Work was getting to be too much for me, so I decided to take another 6 weeks of family and medical leave around late September. He continued to work from home during this time. From October to November, things were rough while he was being weaned off the steroid. He also had a low grade fever that he was given an antibiotic shot for in early October, and this caused a month-long round of reactions to the antibiotic.
But finally by Thanksgiving, things were starting to go well again. He was actually put back on the steroid in mid-November. He even started to make great improvements in physical therapy. We had the next MRI the week after Thanksgiving. Once again, as they had in April and May, they saw questionable areas on the scan. They said once again that it could be changes caused by the radiation. They just weren't sure, and we would have to come back right after New Year's for another MRI. I also decided during this time not to return to work full-time. We agreed that I could just help them during their busy season as needed, which would start in January. It was nice to be off during the holidays and spend time with my husband.
We went back on January 11 of this year. But the days leading up to the scan were not without their troubles. A few days prior, our hot water heater went out and our cat got sick. I also realized around the end of December that I needed 13 hours of continuing education courses to keep my CPA license. I was frantically trying to finish those courses. By some miracle of God, I finished my courses in time, the hot water heater was fixed, and our cat got better. Even with all the bad omens leading up to the appointment, we finally got good news again. They still want us to come back in February, but I hope after that we can go back to just going every other month or every 3 months.
So, yes, my life has been totally and completely crazy since May 2017 when I stopped blogging. Just writing that all out tired me out. But it was good to get it out to realize all I have been through. I haven't even talked about all the emotions that go along with this: devastation, depression, disappointment, sadness, fear. Fear that I won't get to grow old with my love. Fear that we will never get a chance to have a child together. Fear that if we do have a child together, that child will not know him for very long. And the fears of financial insecurity. Fear that I will never manage to figure out how to deal with work and caregiving at the same time, and we will forever be financially insecure. That is really scary for anyone, but especially for a CPA. I can't ruin my credit record, or I could lose my whole career. Luckily, we have my parents and his parents helping us out financially. They also help with the caregiving when they are able. Hopefully, I will be able to let go mentally of the house so that we can sell it and move into his mom's rental home. We will be closer to family and it will help out a great deal finanically.
And there have been rays of hope. On the way home from our last Houston appointment, we saw this rainbow.
And there was the time I was crying in bed back in August wondering how the hell I was going to cope, when my best friend from childhood sent me a snapshot of a daily devotional that I love. She had no idea I had the same devotional or that I had been thinking just that very morning about picking it back up again after several months of not reading it, and I had not heard from her in four months prior to this. If that's not God saying "I am here,", folks, I don't know what is.
Also, as we are struggling with the notion of having a child now, I turned to a fertility board on Facebook. Part of my struggle has been that we may have to use IVF or IUI, which are not supported by the Catholic Church. My faith is very important to me, and I have always been a seeker when it comes to faith. I do not blindly follow my faith, but rather always seek out the meaning and reasoning behind beliefs of my faith and those of other faiths. The same day that I joined the fertility group on Facebook, someone else from my local area posted about recommendations for doctors in this area who support the fertility method supported by the Catholic Church. Because of her post, I found a practitioner in this area who I have started meeting with about the method and how to use it. She said that in all the years she has been part of that group, she has never seen anyone from our local area post. I also see that as a sign of God being here for us. I also posted about our situation on the board to see if anyone thought this method might work for us in our unique situation. I received so much support that I was overwhelmed with hope and tears of joy. No one judged me for thinking about IVF or IUI. They were all very supportive.
And there have been so many other signs that I cannot even remember right off hand. I just know that through all the disappointment, fear, and sadness, there has also been joy, hope, and love. I think about my maternal grandmother, Violet Mae (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, who lost her husband in 1970 to lung cancer at 41 and with 6 children still living at home. I think about my great-grandmother, Mabel Ellen (Crysler) Pemberton Beedon, Violet's mother-in-law, who lost her husband at 42 in 1950 to the same damn cancer that my husband has. She also had about 6 children still living at home. They both lived through such great tragedy and yet still left wonderful legacies behind. They are my hope and my inspiration. I know that no matter what happens, we will get through this.
|Us at Hermann Park in Houston in March 2017. He has all of his hair back now.|