|Cheers to the BHE! (Best Husband Ever)|
June 19, 2014. A bone scan. On his birthday. He insisted on accompanying me when I reassured him it was probably a running injury. "Lighten up," I said. "Let's get this thing done and then go out and celebrate your big day."
As I entered the scanning arena, the young tech greeted me enthusiastically and gushed about my "adorable" shoes as I laid down on the extremely comfortable (sarcasm inserted here ) gurney. It was a jovial group preparing me for the scan which led me to feeling more at ease about the outcome. Moments later, after the procedure began, the mood in the room shifted and I craned my neck to see the pictures on the screen. Needless to say, the red dots showing up on my hip and a few other areas made me reconsider my running injury prognosis--this can't be a good sign.
When the previous bubbly tech reappeared with a sad sack look on her face, I immediately sensed a hovering doom settle into the room. She quietly escorted me to the X-ray area without a word spoken between us. At the time I clearly remember thinking, "Please, no bad news on his birthday."
Of course we didn't have any answers until the following day but the evening prior to THE phone call that would alter everything, Rob's sixty-first birthday, was a somber celebration. At the time we had no clue what a metastatic diagnosis would mean only that it was not the news we had anticipated and thought life as we knew it would now be forever changed.
And changed it has become. As of this upcoming June 19th, I will have outlived the three year median life expectancy for anyone diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I have gone through four radiation treatments, switched drugs twice and will be beginning my third line of treatment (on his birthday...again) which also means I have had progression twice and, a silly complaint, but have lost a good portion of my hair. The positive side to all of this is being overwhelmed again and again by the support and kindness of family, friends and strangers.
But one thing has been constant and that is this incredible loving man by my side every step of the way. He refuses to accept a grim diagnosis and has taken on this monster called cancer with a vengeance that would rattle even the most skilled opponent. If you know Rob, you know his tenacious spirit and unwillingness to take no for an answer. Our fundraising has exceeded both of our expectations (well, mine. He sees it as a challenge to find more). And he pushes on to where we are going next, how we raise more money for our researchers and educating all those who are uninformed. His networking skills are his strength and as a result have inspired others to give, donate, offer, pledge, bestow, etc. etc. etc. to our More For Stage IV fund.
A side story about his tenacity. He has become a top notch amateur researcher and well known in the medical circles, ie. my oncology department, as Dr. Google or Mr. I'll ask questions until there are no more to answer. For the past two years he has attended the world's largest breast conference in San Antonio--he schmoozes with the researchers, takes notes and then returns to relentlessly pester my oncologist about any latest treatments that might work for me. Dr. A. is always patient and understanding of his nonstop onslaught of questions and never once has he rolled his eyes. Mine, on the other hand, are often rolling around my head.
My last oncology visit was sans Rob as it was a teaching session about my new treatment so no need for him to be there. I was met with the usual hellos from everyone followed by the question, "Where's Rob?" From the nurses to the receptionists, he is adored and admired for his unbelievable gift of caring and cancer knowledge. According to them he is close to a walking metastatic encyclopedia if there ever was one and it makes me feel proud that others see him as I do--a stand-up kind of man who will do anything to keep his wife around a while longer.
Lucky me to have him by my side as we navigate through the scariest time in our lives. When we said our vows forty years ago never in a million years would I think this one would be of such importance--"In sickness and in health". Yep, he has been there for both--even on his birthday.
To wish Rob a very happy birthday, please consider a donation to UW Carbone Cancer Center. Trust me, he would honestly say it would be the best gift--ever.
Thanks for reading # 550 of 7777.