Marylin Monroe once said, “Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about”. It has been a long while since I have sat at my keyboard with the intent of cranking out the silly and sometime poignant antidotes that make up my life. Perhaps it is the only way that I can fully process the heavy stuff and retain what little sanity remains, because life just got heavy and here I am– baring my soul…again.
Many of you are aware that five years ago my husband, Kevin, was diagnosed with a rare form of sinus cancer (olfactory neuroblastoma). With an overwhelming amount of support from family, friends, the community, and even strangers, Kevin underwent successful treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. For the past five years, we have faithfully made the pilgrimage to the cancer Mecca every six months for surveillance and each time we have returned home with a clean bill of health…until we didn’t.
Two days shy of the five-year anniversary of the first time we arrived in Houston, we received the news that we had started to believe we would never have to hear again…the cancer has returned. What was supposed to be the eve of a five-day trip with our oldest daughter (Riley), boyfriend (Brandon), and his family, was a day of processing, absorbing, and adjusting our plans. The next morning, we saw our fellow travelers off on their adventure and we remained behind to navigate several days of CT scans, biopsies, lab work, and catching up with the old gang (his surgeon, oncology radiologist, chemo doctors and the entire cast of Cancer Slayers—they are amazing folks, I just didn’t really want to hang out with them…again…ever.
The facts are as follows: The cancer has recurred in the same area of the sinus where is first decided to take root. In addition, it has also decided to acquire more real estate in one of the lymph nodes in his neck. This $hit is just not welcome in the neighborhood. So, his team is currently devising an effective evacuation plan. We know that this is going to involved another surgery and radiation therapy. They are also testing his cancer cells to see if he is a candidate for immunotherapy. So, now we wait…again.
While the weight of what he was facing was pressing down us, those around us had already started meeting our needs before we even knew what it was we were going to need. Brandon’s family resides in the Houston area and they opened up their home, gave us gift cards for food, and let us use their car to make the trip each day to the hospital. While we were establishing squatters’ rights in their beautiful abode and focusing on the plethora of appointments and logistics, our community back at home had already started circling the wagons. Money was being raised, prayers were being said, phone calls and texts were being sent, and blessing were raining down on us…again.
I am a fairly good person, most of the time. Kevin is a great person, period. And the people who love him happen to be the most kind, generous, and all-around fantastic people in the universe. It is easy in the dark of the night to let the worry and fear and the dread gnaw on the raw edges of my soul. But Marilyn Monroe, was right, “…life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about”. ALL OF YOU remind me multiple times a day how truly blessed we are…again.
I sat down to write out thank you notes to everyone who has donated financially to the expenses we will incur over the next few months…I ran out of thank-you notes and haven’t even made a dent. It is overwhelming, humbling and extremely difficult to convey the immensity of our gratitude. I am falling short…again.
Just in case you thought this sad-ass story wasn’t sad enough, there is icing for this crap cake. Kevin developed a bad case of shingles that started on his forehead moved down around his eye, and if the way he is grabbing his ear today is any indicator, they are making their way there as well. He looks and feels rough.
So, I said all this to say he is down but not defeated. Thank you for EVERYTHING. We can see the love in action and we can feel the prayers lifted up. He is going to beat this…again.