OMG OMG OMG
Today, while waiting the 45 minutes for Henry to complete his radiation treatment for the day (5 more to go. Yippeee.) there was a couple waiting on the ugly hard chairs in the corner of the clinic. I noticed them right away as the automatic door slid shut behind us with a whoosh as we entered the clinic.
Why is that so remarkable? Why was this couple so special to catch my eye? This man was probably 45 years old and at first glance, I knew.
I knew he had the same kind of disease my husband has.
His neck was distorted and jawbone was gone.
His face was scarred and to some would say scary.
I was like a 3 year old kid and couldn't keep my eyes from slinking over to that corner, not to stare but to get up the nerve to ask what and how and why and.....
Our friends, the one that has brain cancer, walked in and I saw my opportunity to speak to this couple fading away.
We had a few pleasant words of weekend activities and his progress with his brain cancer but I know I was being rude in my distraction. My scope of attention was not on them but on the man with the neck surgery that sat in the corner.
Time was slipping away.
My opportunity was passing.
I finally excused myself and walked over to the corner and introduced myself.
You have to understand one thing about a Cancer Clinic.
No one cares or feels invaded by questions. We are all in this exclusive private club that requires a stamped membership card. A membership that no one wants to be in but we all are. It's almost an unspoken pact that we can share and explain and ask questions of each other and their cancer. It's almost expected somehow. It's part of the Club Rules.
Sharing is Caring.
How do you approach and ask a disfigured person the details of his pain? How do you ask him to tell you things you have to date only read about on the internet? This was like being in a foreign country and finally seeing another American to speak to. A sense of camaraderie in a sick twisted way.
I explained my husband just went in for his treatment and has stage IV High Grade 4 throat cancer and I noticed his surgery scars.
This gentleman was amazing. He answered every question I asked. He explained the hows and whys and what to expect.
His wife was with him and explained to me the trauma of seeing her husband after a 16 hour surgery to dissect her husbands neck and throat and the horror she felt when she saw him in recovery. He told me about the stares and questions he gets from the public.
After a 20 minute conversation, he told me why he is here.
Why he is back in the radiation clinic?
You see, you can only have ONE series of treatments of radiation to your neck and throat. The spinal cord is so close to the area they are radiating. I can see the lines of demarkation where the radiation is burning and searing my husbands skin. It is like a severe sunburn all around to the back.
I follow the burn lines around to the back. There is about an inch space along the backbone that has no burns but wow, they are so close. Too much and you could be paralyzed for life. *sigh*
This young man's cancer had returned.
It was back with a vengeance.
It was now in his lung and bones and brain. He said he had found a huge tumor on his back that morning. A new one.
Radiation at this point for him is palliative. Palliative meaning only to prolong life for a short time and keep the patient as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.
Have you ever wanted to hug a complete stranger? Have you ever had your heart break from someone else's sad sad story?
My questions were answered.
My answers were already answered by husband at the beginning of this horrible journey. He refuses the surgery 100%.
I have been asked by so many from the beginning.
"Why not do surgery at the beginning of this nightmare and just cut the tumor OUT?"
That sounds so easy.
No risk of spinal cords and burns and pain. No chemo. No nausea. None of that.
The reason we can't go that route?
When a patient has a cancerous tumor, the surgeon must be able to cut it out and the margins beside it. The margins are all of the surrounding areas nearby. The surgeon will cut out the tumor and keep at it and at it, cutting until he gets clear tissue and then more to be assured all of the tumor is gone. You must have good margins to remove a tumor.
In your throat and neck, that area is so very small and tight that it is nearly impossible to get those margins.
My husband not only has a huge tumor in the back of the throat but many large tumors in the neck and lymph. Impossible.
Once the tumors have shrunk I just know the doctors will want to discuss that as an option. Surgery.
Take out the tongue, voice box, thyroid, jaw bones, muscles, teeth, omg. I can't even write more of that thought process.
I went to see my grandkids yesterday. Three little medicine balls of fun they are.
My son prays with them every night before bed. He asks God to keep his family safe and to keep harm away from his family and his home.
My middle Grand daughter, Kennedi asked with big blue eyes wide,
"Daddy, Who is Harm and why is he coming to OUR house?"
I pray to keep harm away from all of YOU.
All of you that are here with us on this journey. We are amazed and feel so blessed by all of your thoughts and love and prayers.
These days I write my blog and can not see for the tears flooding my eyes. I write it to put my heart and thoughts out there for my family and friends. All of you. You push me. You push us both. I feel you there. We both do. I love you.
Please keep harm away from all of us. Please keep harm away from my old friends and all of my new friends
and all of our families.