I know many who don’t see us regularly are wondering how we are doing. Since it is year end I figured I would summarize.
To begin, I want to have a disclaimer that this is Amy writing about Brian and the family, and that I have been called unemotional before, and in no way want this to be interpreted as without feeling. I hope this comes across more to the peace and strength I have had in my faith in God the last year.
We had a pretty good 2011 in the beginning of the year. We had moved into our new house in April, I wasn’t having any MS symptoms, the kids were busy. Summer started and Brian began to complain about stomach pain, especially after he ate. I told him to go to the doctor. He did in July and the general doctor thought maybe crones, diverticulitis, or a parasite. He told Brian to follow up with a GI doctor. We left for vacation to MN. He still had symptoms, pain, diarrhea, some blood. Upon returning to Texas and with the beginning of school Kate and I both got strep. However my strep turned bad. It was horrible for a week and finally after seeing the ENT I was scheduled for a tonsillectomy. When Brian went into see the GI doctor his tests came back negative, so they scheduled him for a colonoscopy. The doctor called me after and said he had a large blockage at the bottom of the colon where it meets the small intestine. They estimated the blockage at 90%. He said they took lots of samples for biopsy. Brian came home with pictures. They didn’t look pretty. Being medically ignorant, I really thought it was a large polyp or something. Either way it had to be removed. Brain was scheduled for surgery right away and I postponed my tonsillectomy. I never really thought cancer. I was more concerned that they would be removing a foot of colon and small intestine and his appendix. I was more concerned about the actually surgery, never really having any myself.
I have to say for once in 7 years it wasn’t me being admitted to the hospital (after delivering 3 babies, I really dislike hospitals). Brian seemed to be at ease with it, although his exterior remained clam, I knew he had spent the week googling pictures, researching cancer and other scary topics. When the surgeon came out to talk to me that everything had gone well, I asked him what he thought. He took out the pictures and said point blank “it looks like cancer”. Really? I was surprised. It didn’t make sense. Just like the MS, it isn’t something you think will effect you. I really never worried about Brian. I had lots of peace about the situation. And as cold as it might sound, I knew that whatever his outcome, this was our path and it would be ok. The road might be unpaved, but it was lit. I knew Brain was in God’s hands. Did I ever think I would lose him? Yes. The thought crossed my mind, but I knew I couldn’t go there. We could only make decisions based on the information we had. One step at a time. Colonoscopy, CT scan, surgery, pathology. I couldn’t play what it games. I didn’t have the energy.
We were really lucky in a sense. Colon cancer is a silent cancer. By the look of Brian’s colonoscopy pictures, one might thing he was in a stage 3 or 4. Usually by the time there are symptoms it is too late for treatment. For us, the CT scan was clean and out of all 24 lymph nodes removed none were affected. After pathology testing, it came back that Brian had a genetic form of colon cancer with micro satellite instability. He was prescribed 6 months of chemotherapy as a precaution because of his age and form of cancer. He had a port put in for the chemo and goes every two week to receive 2 of the drugs and then comes home with a pump to wear for 2 days for the other drug. We take it one day at a time, one week, one treatment at a time. He has sensitivity to cold, hot flashes, fatigued, and nausea. Each treatment reaction a little different.
For the most part we do well, asking for help when we need it. It’s hard with three kids and two fatigued parents but we manage with great friends and neighbors. Your health is if not the most, of of the most important things. We can suffer through many losses, but the loss of health affects everything we do. If you haven’t experienced a significant health issue, it may be hard to relate. Before I went through mine I did have a sense of immunity, that it couldn’t happen to me.
When I read the story of Job, one of the last things to go was his health. Job 2:7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolishwoman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. 11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Sometimes the best we can do for each other is to just be there.