Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Big C - No matter what you call it, you finally have to own it.

Sharon Bray has written a powerful post on her blog: Writing Through Cancer 

I'll never forget the moment I heard the doctor tell Barry and me that my husband had cancer. I felt the young man was cavalier, uncaring, until he asked, didn't you already know? He thought, because I was there in the office with Barry, that we had already been told.

Barry Beall

In the post from the blog Writing Through Cancer, the blogger writes about how doctors feel when they must give that bad news. She also writes about the patient's feelings and suggests to us to write about when we first heard those words, you have cancer. 

Although I was not the patient when I heard those words, I was one half of the patient, the man I'd shared my life with for 45 years. Nothing can prepare you for those three words. The fear that rises inside you is unstoppable. Even if you are reassured, "This is the best kind of cancer you can have. It is treatable," you catch your breath and begin to worry about the outcome. 

We fear that word, that disease above almost any, because not only is it often terminal, the treatment practically destroys our bodies. 

I watched my brother, Ray, in his last year of suffering. His eyes spoke first of the sadness inside him. His eyes had shown the defeat from the the first. He did everything short of chemo to keep going and get well, but he had been told he only had three years. I think he believed that, so in three years, he died. 

Before his diagnosis. He was happy. Such a good and sweet man.

The day he came to my house with Gail, his wife, and told me he had something serious to talk about with me, I immediately felt a big heavy rock settle in my stomach. I had no idea he was sick until he said he had multiple myeloma, and then explained what it was and the prognosis. The doctor had told him he could expect to live three years if he did not take chemo.  

As we often do, I have tried to look back and find the good things that happened during those three years. Because he reused to take chemo, he was able to travel. He visited China. He didn't give up. He visited me on several occasions, alone, so we had opportunities to really talk with no interruptions. I treasure those times. I had always loved and enjoyed him, but he was next to oldest of the seven of us. I was next to youngest. I realized during those visits, he had confidence in me, believed in me and felt I would help hold the family together as he had done for many, many years. 

I have faced the fear of having cancer. More than once, I've had to have second mammograms to be sure there was no tumor. The morning I awoke to find a large bump on the side of my breast, I almost panicked. I was at the doctor's office before he opened his doors. It was a benign cyst, thankfully. Another time I found a small lump and doctors said it was so small we would just watch it.

Well, that is fine for the doctor to do - watch it. But after a month, I was in the hospital having it removed. It, too, was benign, but I slept much better knowing it was gone. 

Barry and I often referred to that awful illness as the Big C as if we could avoid it by not giving it a real name. You know, like not naming the stray cat so it would not really be your cat. I have a friend who feeds two stray cats, but doesn't claim them.

The Big C creeps in when we don't know it is there, and when it is found out, it seems to jump from behind the curtains dressed in the most fearsome costume, one that brings chills to our hearts, and ripples up and down our spines.

If you have never had to hear the words, you have cancer, I hope you never do. If you have heard those words, and I know some of my readers have, I pray that you overcome it, fight it as hard as you can, look for the best doctors, and hospitals for your kind of cancer. Strides have been made in the medical world today that can prolong life and even put cancer in remission. Some people, like my brother, Rex, who had a slow growing cancer, go on with life and die of another disease or illness.

The post by Sharon Bray made me pause and think about the doctors who give this diagnosis over and over and how they must feel when they do. It helps me feel empathy for the men and women in white coats who tried to help us during Barry's fight for his life. 

1 comment:

DJan said...

Another reason it's so scary is that it can be there for a long time before you even know it's there. I haven't had it and hope I never do. I'm so sorry for the losses you have endured, Glenda. Sending you my very best thoughts of light and healing.