You know the saying, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”? Well, I feel like my middle name should be freaking Super Girl after undergoing the year of hell that I have. It all happened two years ago when, out of the blue, the hubs had a mole removed from the back of his knee. That was the day my world was turned upside down. The usual procedures that happen every time you have a mole removed was done, but this time the doctors came back and uttered the C word to us. I remember this like it was yesterday and still carry the same fear with me today that I was blanketed with then.
The surgery was much harder than you would think necessary to remove a mole and so we thought we were in the clear. The surgeon initially thought it was benign stating he had seen similar moles like this before. When the pathology came back and the mole was found to be cancerous, there was now cause for concern. A CAT scan showed that the cancer was not necessarily in the body, but the surgeon stated that he needed to remove a few lymph nodes to determine if the cancer had spread further.
The news following the next surgery was not what we wanted to hear at all. I was out of town at the time and had decided to take the kids to a children’s museum to pass the time. I had a friend take the older kids to another part of the museum, when she recognized that I was going to need a little time alone. I took the one-year-old Mister Monster to the ball pit and sat and cried. I’m pretty sure I scared off the other parents that day! All I could think to do was to call my mom because that is what you do when you are sad, scared, and unsure of what you should do next. Even at thirty-nine years old, this made me feel better. I was out of town and wasn’t sure how I was going to break this news to the hubs since the doctor had called me instead of him.
After removing all the targeted lymph nodes, the hubs started an anti-viral protocol that is standard with a diagnosis of melanoma. It was not traditional chemotherapy, but it is a tough treatment all the same.
This was my reality. All too soon, I had become the wife of a cancer patient. I was not the first one that was scared to death of losing her husband and unfortunately I won’t be the last either.
This whole thing made me think about having to grow old without the man I married. It made me think further, “Will my husband be there to walk our three girls down the aisle? Will he be there to teach our son how to play baseball?” The idea of my children not having their father in their lives was more than I could take.
(Pictured above) Our kids were confused. They knew that their dad was different and though the older ones understood, it still scared them. They spent many nights on the couch snuggling with him for peace of mind.
Our first trip to the oncologist was a nightmare. We sat there in disbelief as the doctor informed us of our options. None of them seemed all that great and I was stunned to hear that his cancer had been diagnosed at stage three. The doctor continued to shatter our world when he said that, in all likelihood, it wasn’t uncommon that even with treatment, cancer like this had a good chance of coming back.
After all, your skin is your largest organ. It isn’t possible that a cancer like this can be cut out and life can go back to normal. Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers out there. I soon learned more than I ever wanted to know about skin cancer. Melanoma is just as serious as any other cancer. People think it is just a topical cancer. It can be “cut” out, but it is still one of the leading killers in the world of cancers. Not only that, once it gets into the blood stream, it metastasizes quickly. The doctor said once it was in the blood, it was hard to cure.
My husband was prescribed a month’s worth of this drug and had to take it every day. It drained him and made him feel as if he had the flu. On top of that, he also had to receive shots from me (Yes, I gave him shots!) three times a week.
It was probably one of the hardest times in my life seeing my strong husband weak and struggling like he was. I felt like a single parent for that year, as he was down and out. On top of raising the kids and taking care of the house, I was also responsible for all of his care. Please know I am not complaining, but rather painting a picture of how bad it truly was. (Anyone that watched me through that year knew I was a certifiable nut job!)
I have learned over the past two years we must live in the here and now and treasure what we are given. I urge anyone who is reading this to protect your skin. Protect your children’s skin. Be careful in the sun. Please go to your dermatologist for scheduled skin checks.
My husband was just forty when he was diagnosed with this and thankfully has had successful results from the treatments. This last year has taught me to live without regret. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, but we can prepare to expect it.
(Pictured below) I made him this shirt after a year of Chemo. His doctor said he was the first under his doctor’s care to finish an entire year of this particular treatment.