We thought we were done. We thought surgery took care of it. We didn’t know there was more, lurking somewhere, ready to pounce. And boy did it ever pounce. Now there’s more in what’s left of his colon, his liver, his spleen, and his lungs. For the last month we’ve been visiting doctors for more tests, multiple consultations, getting as much information as we can about possible treatments and weighing all the pros and cons. We’ve shed some tears, but not too many. We’re in fight mode. Grief can wait.
At first I was a little annoyed at God, to put it mildly. Why would He allow us to think we had dodged that cancer bullet only to have it come back and slap us in the face? I mean, really? The oncologist here in town told us that the average survival rate for a person with colon cancer that has spread like this is about two years. TWO YEARS?!? I’m sorry, that is completely unacceptable. And then the Lord gave us a gift, at least I think He did. The doctor pointed us in the direction of another doctor at Georgetown University (supposedly one of the top experts on colon cancer in the country) who gave us hope, proposed an aggressive chemotherapy regimen, and reassured us that we were not alone in this fight. He took the time to do some digging for us and found a brand-new clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health that was worth looking into, and off to Bethesda we went. Long story short: My fabulous husband is the first colon cancer patient ever (EVER!) to receive a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy. It’s been done with other types of cancer, but not this kind. I realized that maybe there is a higher purpose for all we’re going through. Someday someone is going to find a cure for cancer, and now we’re part of that story. If this can help him live a long and healthy life (I want us to be married ANOTHER 22 years, at the VERY LEAST) and help other cancer patients do the same? Pretty cool.
Maybe it won’t work. It’s certainly worth a shot. Nowadays that’s what’s taking up most of my time and energy. (I’m feeling guilty just taking the time to write this, because there are so many other things I feel like I should be doing.) We’ll be driving to Bethesda four days in a row every two weeks, which depending on traffic on I-95 and the beltway, can take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours one way. Immunotherapy the first day, chemo the next, a pump to take home only to bring it back the next day to be replenished with more chemo, and another trip the fourth day to unhook it. Between that and working I haven’t had as much time for running, much less training for anything. I still plan to run the Historic Half here in Fredericksburg on May 21, but I’ve ditched the Devil Dog Double. I did not enter the Marine Corps Marathon lottery (and a friend who ran the 1775K this year gave me her “access granted” code because she wasn’t going to use it, and I was REALLY tempted to sign up). Frankly training for a marathon isn’t something I’m really interested in right now. I’ve also taken an unplanned hiatus from geocaching, and who knows when I’ll be able to get into that again. I told Ray I didn’t really feel much like running, and do you know what he said? That I NEED to keep running. And I will. Two days a week minimum, preferably three. At least a couple of 10- to 12-mile runs between now and the Historic Half, plus some short runs during the week to keep me sane and in relatively decent shape. I’m still trying to go to my power lifting class every week. And I take walks at NIH; up and down the hallways and stairwells, and soon I’ll likely venture outside to explore the rest of the campus. (Not to geocache. It’s United States government property, where geocaching is not allowed. Plus security is tight and you need a badge to get in, so it wouldn’t be a very good place for caching anyway.) OH, and I ran the J. Brian’s 15K last weekend, and got a new pair of running shoes, so running is still a priority. But no longer an obsession.
(My less-than-glamorous finish line photo. Every time I’ve run this race I’ve PR’ed. Not this year.)
(My New Saucony Zealots.)
(At the National Institutes of Health, in the little courtyard. I’ll coming here to ponder life quite a bit, I imagine.)
Many, many people have been praying for us and offering lots of love and hugs and help. The people that we work with have been wonderfully supportive and amazing. This journey has convinced me that God puts us exactly where we need to be at the right time. Cancer sucks, and we have a long and difficult journey ahead, but we have a lot to be thankful for.