Ready for some real stuff? This...is...hard... Like the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life (and if you know me, I've had some hard stuff). Please note that there are clickable links that will take you to more detailed information.
Four months ago on September 12, 2020, we were told by the emergency room doctor that there was a mass in my husband Steve's left lung. At the first visit with the specialist he was very matter of fact and said "you have cancer, I suspect it's stage 4 and probably throughout your body". After 3 bronchoscopies (one of which ended up with him in ICU) we had the beginning of an answer when he was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. That was followed by more tests. We were very nervous about what the CT scan would show, as it would determine how far the cancer had spread and if surgery was an option. We were lucky enough to find a pulmonary specialist who had (in his words) "crazy ideas and 90% of the time I'm right". On November 23, 2020 Steve had an pneumonectomy The day after the surgery he was up walking and we were actually preparing for discharge in a couple of days. That night they discovered he was bleeding into the empty lung cavity and the next morning he went in for emergency surgery. Thanks to Covid, he spent 4 hours in the surgery waiting room until there was a bed available in ICU. At that same time, through a weird set of events I ended up unable to get back into the hospital because he was not listed as a patient. He was in the hospital 15 days (9 of which were spent in ICU following the second surgery). There were a couple of days that things were definitely dicey. He experienced delusions from the pain meds and lack of sleep, he ended up with extreme constipation and I learned so much about advocating for a patient.
For both of us, it has been months of highs and lows (very low), hurry up and wait, facing the unknown and realizing that life will never ever be the same. Steve is doing very well overall and we are preparing for the next phase, treatment. I am very proud of him and I don't mean that to sound "childish". He's been to Hell and back and will probably be there again. He's shown me a whole new loveable side of him. He's made sick jokes about cancer and we've cried together over the unknown. Once I started sharing our journey on social media, we have been so touched by the care, love and help we've received. It means so much to both of us.
As for me, well... I wish I could tell you all I'm fine, I've got this and that it's all being taken care of. I mean, I've always loved taking care of people, as a recovering alcoholic the thought of being "in control" of things is the best and I usually multi-task very well. But since I'm sober, I need to tell the truth. And the truth is I'm really struggling.
Making sure that Steve is getting taken care of, without taking away his ability to care for himself (not making him feel bad if he forgets to take his meds, etc). I worry a lot and if he takes a deep breath, rubs his head, shifts in his chair or just stretches, I'm asking "what's wrong" or "what do you need". When we first got back home from 15 days in the hospital I kept poking him at night because I couldn't hear him breathing and I was worried he'd died in bed beside me. He was breathing so much better that I couldn't hear him and I was panicking. Of course it wasn't helping him being jolted awake by me in the middle of the night.
Making sure that we have food in the house that he will eat, that I put breakfast, lunch and dinner in front of him. Because he really isn't hungry, he says that he often doesn't think of eating. When we first found out he had cancer he was barely eating. He said (and I quote) "I'm listening to my body" and I literally yelled "Your body is lying to you". I am a decent cook but it's not my favorite thing to do. I actually get super excited when we have a doctor appointment out of town because I know that we will be stopping to get fast food and I don't have to cook or do dishes. The other day we got signed up for Meals on Wheels. Not gonna lie, this may be my lifesaver. He really enjoyed the meal, it was exactly the right portion so we didn't have leftovers (he's never cared for leftovers, I love them) and the fact that I don't have to think about what I can feed him for one meal is amazing.
There is so much more that I am trying to understand... too much to write here in one blog post. Watch for more blog posts to follow. Thank you all for your love and support as we take this journey. #lifewithcancer #cancersucks #buckcancer