Monday, January 18, 2010

The Big Payoff

Nearly a year ago, we received some of the most devastating news possible: Michael was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. For nearly a year now, we've dealt with the aftermath of that news. Radiation and chemo. More chemo. Major surgery. Lots more chemo. I've watched my husband become diminished, and at times it was impossible to see past the darkness.

Today, we received some of the best news possible: the post-chemo PET scan Michael underwent last week showed no more cancer. This is what all the hell and pain and misery were for, this big payoff.

It's interesting how in the face of something so horrible, you can end up feeling very lucky and grateful. We dodged a bullet there. It could have been so much worse.

Some things I've learned through this ordeal:
  • You learn who your real friends are when something like this happens. Some people will distance themselves. A lot of others will stick by you like glue, always there with an ear, a shoulder, and a helping hand.
  • People like to help. As hard as it is to ask for help, or to accept help that's offered, it helps to realize that they get something out of it too - it makes them feel good. Needing help does not equal weakness, and giving help does not equal pity.
  • Insurance companies suck. At least Anthem Blue Cross does. Despite the sentimental ads, what they really care about is their bottom dollar. And they really couldn't care less about the emotional distress their shenanigans cause, on top of dealing with a devastating illness.
  • When planning a family, it would be wise to consider how many children one could handle as a single parent, because one never knows what life might throw at one. Not saying I regret my overly large brood, but I've discovered how difficult it can be to raise them with a sick husband, and I think I have an inkling of how exponentially more difficult it would be to raise them with no husband.
  • A good cry is cleansing. Swearing and drinking can sometimes help, too.
  • You gotta laugh. You just gotta.
There's probably more, but those are the biggies.

So, where do we go from here? Michael goes in for some somewhat minor surgery tomorrow, which is the final phase of treatment. He'll be in for a few days, and although I'm going to miss him, the mind-numbing anxiety that preceded his first surgery back in June is absent. I want to say that we are ready to live again, but the truth is, we never stopped living. The kids have continued to grow, the sun has continued to rise and set, the bills and junk mail have continued to find their way into our mailbox, and we've still managed to have plenty of laughs, and even a few dinners out, over the year.

Life will never be exactly the same as it was before cancer. Fear of recurrence, I think, will always be lurking, and the scars from this ordeal will linger. And appreciation? Yes, there is so much of that.


Lisa said...

I am so THRILLED to hear this news! And as for the takeaways, here here! Now you can take a drink in celebration :)

Anonymous said...

Yay! I'm so happy for you guys. Congratulations!

Karly said...

So thrilled for you both and hope this is the relative end of a long road. Lots of good thoughts for M's procedure today.

Leigh Anne said...

lisa...(and michael), that is the best news i've heard in a really long time!! i'm so happy that the scan showed no cancer! it was a long fight, but you won! you are an amazing family! i'm so happy that we had babies at the same time Lisa...and for pgo.



Esther and Brian said...

HOW AWESOME AND AMAZING! Great news, happy to hear this...awesome. Lisa...

The Beers Family said...

Congratulations Michael and Lisa. You have a beautiful family and I am so glad this ordeal is coming to a close for you. I completely understand how the fear lingers in the back of your mind though.

Anna Alexandrova said...

I am so delighted to be reading these words, Lisa! Truly delighted. I might even pour a drink to celebrate!