Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are We Out of the Woods?

With every doctor appointment, scan, or test, comes anxiety. We worry that there will be new growth, or that the medicine has stopped working, or that the cancer has spread to another area of the body. The worry is inevitable. As much as we try to stay positive, or to believe that everything will be okay, we can't help but feel anxiety. This is cancer we're dealing with, here. It's unpredictable.

This past week we heard the kind of news we don't like to hear. The bad news? It's swelling in his brain. The good news? It's not a tumor. We have to balance being grateful for that while standing together to decide how we will treat the swelling. We also have to keep a close eye on him for the next 8 weeks, because if he shows any sign of confusion or sleepiness, it means the spot has continued to grow and we need to take action sooner. Our options? Low dose steroids or surgery. Neither option are great, this man does not handle steroids well (they threw him into a psychosis that lasted a month) and he's already had two brain surgeries.

And then there is the lungs. There is a spot that is growing, which means it is resisting the medication he is on. He will be tested to see if he is eligible for a new medication. If he's not, he will have to go through radiation therapy on his lungs.

As I was processing all the news last night, I couldn't help but think of a Taylor Swift song. Are we out of the woods? Although that song is about a relationship, that same question applies here.  Just when we think we're in the clear, something else pops up that we have to battle. There is no "clearing" in sight, just a constant path of twists and turns.

The good news is that we stand together in this, and push each other to keep going, to ask for direction when we are lost and to encourage each other. The even better news is that we have so many people around us, sending their prayers and well wishes, letting us grab their hand when we need someone else to lean on.

In September 2014, our lives were totally changed when we learned of the initial diagnosis. In February of 2016, we've learned that the changes just keep coming. We can't be fully prepared for them, we just have to hang on and push forward.

I know I've blogged about this before. But the biggest lesson I can share with anyone who stumbles on this is this: appreciate life and the small moments as much as you can. Do not stress about little things, let go of grudges, forgive. Do not wait until cancer or another illness becomes a part of your life. Love the people around you loudly NOW, and cherish the wonderful gifts you have been given.

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