but I do it a lot anyway, it helps. I have always processed my stress/joy/fear/love vocally, I tried for a while to be that “good quiet listener”. you know, the personality type held up as the gold standard. That didn’t work out that well. Ended up on Prozac trying to be that perfect church wife.
Disclaimer: I think I am a good listener, or at least a good “let’s talk about it” person, so don’t let my prior confession keep you from talking to me!
back to the story…
not quite 1.5 years ago (a lifetime ago or yesterday) was when we got the bad phone call. Cancer, and worse than just cancer, Rectal cancer. NO ONE wants to talk about cancer “down there”. But talk I did, to anyone and everyone. Poor Dave, more people know about his health issues… Then it was surgery and the awful, painful recovery, and then the good news that the tumor was gone. Check ups followed, things looked good. Summer came and went: camping, hiking, road trips, the boat. Fun, busy, wonderful months of living life, carefree.
Then it was time for the 1 year checkup. As the appointment date neared, we started to remember, and both Dave and I got what I like to call “impending sense of doom”. That pit in the stomach, vague and constant.
The exam came, and with it, a date for a colonoscopy.
Can you guess what comes next?
Recurrence… the scope found a small tumor, just 20mm in size, but growing pretty fast. Our friendly ColoRectal surgeon wasted no words and no time. ‘This has to come out, and soon. You dodged a bullet last time, keep trying to go that route, one of these bullets is going to hit.”.
Dave went to work, and scheduled surgery(again) for the day after he was to arrive home. That morning, I left work a bit early, arranged to have a neighbor pick up the kids from school and feed them supper. We drove the 2.5 blocks to the hospital(seems silly, but there was no way Dave was walking home). We joked and laughed a little, but not much.
Once again, we sat in the surgery prep area, talking to the nurses, and the anesthesiologist. Then to our surgeon. This time, it was both less and more unnerving than last year. This time, not one nurse assured us we would not be back. This time, the nurses said, hope we don’t see you so soon, and oh, yes, I remember you, wow, I am sorry you are back in.
Once again, I sat, trying to knit or read, or both, in the family waiting area. Time slows down in that room. Several times, the hospital volunteer rose from her desk, looked in my direction, and then walked past me to let some other family know that their patient was in recovery.
Eventually, the surgeon came in. he looked serious, but not hurried(I took this as a good sign, I figured if he looked frantic it was bad news. Serious, I could handle). And the news was both good, and serious. Both tumors were removed. Completely. That was great news.
Wait. Both tumors? A second tumor had started to grow in the 2 weeks between the colonscopy and the surgery. And the original tumor? Grew by about 50% in that time. Those things, that was serious news.
Dave came home that afternoon, and did not leave the house, at all, for the next 8 days. The recovery was tough, not as bad as last year, but not the swift one he had hoped for.
The pathology reports came back, and everything was happily pre-cancerous tissue. So, no chemo, no radiation.
Today Dave had a post-op exam. Things look good. For now. There is still healing taking place, and that healing seems to be progressing along just as it should.
In 7 weeks, he will have another exam, and then another scope. And then 6-8 weeks later, another exam, and then another scope. and so on.
It sounds like overkill until the surgeon says: Well, if you decide you don’t want to see me, for say 5 years, if you are lucky you will just lose your rectum and your anus, but probably it would be your life.
So every 6-8 weeks it is. Dodging bullets.
It’s not something fun to talk about, but I am going to do it anyway.