We spent the weekend watching the clock very carefully to make sure Linds was on top of her pain med schedule. If she missed a pill or was late by even an hour or two she would get pretty sore. Like I mentioned before, her incision was about 4-5 inches long running vertically downward from her belly button so you can imagine the challenge of finding a comfortable resting position…especially you cesarean birthing moms out there! We had some visitors that stopped by throughout the weekend, a few day care families, a few family members and a few friends. Everyone was very supportive and happy to just sit and hang out with us–which was awesome for us.
Despite the immediate support, we were both still very broken mentally and emotionally at this point. We both hadn’t fully let the gravity of the situation sink in whether it be due to disbelief, confusion or unwillingness to accept it; I felt as though we were both kind of walking around in an almost zombie-like daze, unsure of what was next. Sunday was a great day for us as far as healing goes. I will openly confess that Lindsay and I weren’t the most regular of church-goers but we felt it was more important than ever to try to speak to and hear from God on that day and woke up and headed out to Eastview Christian Church. The message that day was a reminder that Jesus is the only one, true king capable of sitting on His throne. It seemed a fitting message for the day, reminding us that we must put the Lord at the front of our life, on our highest throne and trust in Him and His plan. It was a very good analogy for how to take the next step, as I made mention to previously. We even got out and went for a walk on the trail around the park behind our house that day, a BIG milestone for us, as it was a battle just getting up and down from a seated position until that point. With these few monumental strides towards recovery, we realized what was next; it was one step at a time, one day at a time while leaning on each other and others for strength.
The following Tuesday (18 weeks), we went in for a surgery post-op checkup and met with our OB doctor. She came in and gave us great news about our son, he was happy, healthy and full of activity! However, she then proceeded to explain that despite the pathology department at Bromenn being able to narrow the cancer down, they were unable to give a proper diagnosis of the type. She suggested sending it off to the Mayo Clinic and we agreed so the tissue and slides were sent off that day and we were told we’d have a 7-10 business day wait period. She then talked about the two types of cancers we were looking at, one being what is known as LMP (Low Malignant Potential) and the other being small-cell cancer. She left us with as much information about the surgery, what she saw and the message that we needed to hope for the LMP and not the small-cell diagnosis from Mayo.
Nine business days later, I had just gotten home from work and was out back enjoying a beautiful day with Lindsay and the daycare kids. I remember just getting all the kids organized and seated around our picnic table to give them some birthday cupcakes that one of the kids had brought in to celebrate. Lindsay’s phone rang as we were setting the kids’ cups in front of them and she said it was her OB and she was going inside to answer. My anxiety (which I never get) and adrenaline levels were through the roof, I’m pretty sure my heart was close to beating out of my chest. The kids were busy getting their faces messy with frosting and giggling amongst each other, unaware of the gravity of the news being delivered to their beloved caregiver. I couldn’t take it anymore and started to walk towards the house from the middle of our backyard and didn’t get more than a few steps before Lindsay opened the door and burst out in tears. She didn’t have to say a word, I knew those tears, I could damn near feel the physical pain. My feet felt like they were stuck in concrete, almost unwilling to move even one more step despite my heart wanting to cry for my wife. I held her tight as we sobbed together for what seemed like years until she decided she wanted to call her Mom, to be with her in such a difficult time, which I totally understood. I honestly don’t even really remember much of the following hour or so, during which all the daycare parents showed up to pickup their sweet, innocent children. I do remember a few of the kiddos seeing me upset and in tears and coming over to offer hugs and snuggles, which helped a little but the pain was still cutting all the way to my soul. I felt as though my whole life had been ripped out from under me, all that Linds and i had worked for professionally and personally, was being ripped from us for no good reason. I don’t cry a lot but I was in a lot of pain and it took every ounce of me to not lose it when explaining to each of the parents that the daycare wouldn’t be open the next day. That all to familiar question of “Why me, why us, why now?” came fluttering back, no answer in sight. I went inside with the last daycare family to walk them out and then went to the room where my wife and mother-in-law sat and just collapsed on the couch next to my wife. We didn’t say much, from what I remember, after all, what do you say in that situation? After some time, my mother-in-law got up to leave and gave us both hugs and told us how much she loved us and left to head back home, I’m sure that was a very rough 45 minute drive for her.
Those next few days were some of the hardest yet. Of course we made the natural human mistake of trying to play diagnosing doctor on Google and even if there was good news hidden amongst the emotionless words we read, we naturally suppressed them and picked out all the bad or horrible statistics or stories. The first thing I will tell anyone that, God forbid, gets diagnosed with this (or any for that matter) disease is STAY OFF THE INTERNET until your doctor gives you a much more specific case or medication listing. We had another realization that weekend, one that would set the tone for the next few weeks. We knew that we had almost lost sight of the one step, one day at a time mantra that we had learned just a week earlier. Linds and I both vowed to remain strong, regain positivity and focus on staying as healthy as possible for both her and our little baby boy. So there we sat, curious and scared for what the future may hold when it hit me right square in the forehead. I remembered one of my favorite quotes that was spoken by one of the most truly divine individuals of my lifetime, Mother Theresa, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Those words will resonate with you time and time again if you take them to heart. We only have today. Think about how powerful those four words are…we only have today. This world would be a better place if we lived our lives like we only had today, I feel as though a lot of times we live our lives for the future or to “correct” the past. Let us STOP. Slow down, enjoy life and how precious it really is. This situation has enabled me to do that a few times already and life is truly unbelievably beautiful, especially the people in it. I thought my wife was beautiful and incredible before…I’ve seen that tenfold since this all began. Ok, back to our story, we pressed on through the weekend and tried to remain as positive and strong as we could while maintaining as much of a normal schedule as we could. Again, cancer patients will universally tell you that maintaining a normal schedule does WONDERS for your mental and emotional health. We knew that we had something to look forward to in a few short days, our 20 week checkup with our OB doctor so we took it one day at a time, waiting for that day to arrive to give us some good news.
Tuesday came and we headed in to our 20 week checkup, still downtrodden from the news we received less than a week prior. All those feelings lifted, if only for a few minutes, when we heart that familiar “thump, thump, thump, thump” from our son. That sound can be described as nothing short of soul-cleansing for me, personally. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, what kind of mood I’m in or what emotions I’m experiencing, as soon as his heartbeat hits my eardrums everything melts away and all I hear in my world is his little heartbeat beating away all the thoughts and cares that were clouding my brain before. He is all that matters in that moment and that is a very beautiful thing; any parent will say the same thing. Anyway, the checkup continued and we knew we wouldn’t get too in-depth at this checkup because we had an appointment with our newly assigned high-risk obstetrician the following day. We knew that a lot of time would be spent driving back and forth to and from Peoria over the next few months but again, we didn’t care because it was all for those little thump, thump, thump, thumps and his Mama’s health.
My Mom, Mother-In-Law, Linds and I all arrived the next day to meet up with our high-risk OB in Peoria and we walked in to the office waiting room and sat and waited, anxious to meet the man that we had heard so many good things about. We knew the level of care that we were looking for would be almost unobtainable but we knew that we had been recommended to this doctor for a reason and we were ready to meet him. Linds and I sat there holding hands and shared a few laughs and stories with our mothers when we heard our name called. After a medical history consultation with all of us, we followed a nurse down the long and wide hospital hallway of the Maternal Fetal Medicine department to our ultrasound room, I looked down at my feet and reminded myself “One step at a time”…