Living with a melanoma

Archive for July, 2012

Go kick

Steve saw the consultant this week who confirmed that there were no more cancer cells in the removed nodes – thank God.  He told Steve to ‘go and play football with his boys’ – music to the ears.  Its a turning point, a point that we did wonder if we would ever get to.  Playing football in the park is one of those things we took for granted, we got this house because the park is just down the road.  Its a ‘normal’ thing to do.  How complacent were we?  Never again will we assume that the world as we know it will continue as it is.  

A CT scan every three months is all that is left and I refuse to allow that to dominate our lives.  Steve is at the caravan just now with the boys.  Rumor has it that all sorts of rules are being broken – food on a tray in front of a video, heavy nintendo use, before you know where we are they will be drinking Cola !  Me?  I’m catching up on reading, emails, friends, life.  Who knows, I might just chill out!  I know we are all healing – we had Steve’s favorite hymn in church today and I sang it joyfully – no thought of tears.  

Going forward?  Its Barcelona in two weeks time.  We are so impressed with our travel agents – yes, I know we could have booked it on the internet but no way would we have had the confidence in the arrangements that we have now.  They (Premier Travel in St Ives) phoned us to say that the tickets had arrived, we said we would bring in passports and would need Euros.  Well, we arrived and they immediately found our file, knew we were bring passports and asked how many Euros we wanted.  (Somehow I have grown to expect inefficiency – how refreshing to be proved wrong).  We are now checked in at the airport (!) both for out and return flights!  Guaranteed connecting rooms at the hotel, and I have every confidence that if this were not to be the case that Premier would quickly sort it out.  A frenzy of clothes shopping has occurred and the pile of ‘must take’ is growing on the spare bed.  Any day now I will hear those words ‘do you really need to take all that?’ – but until then – pile it up!  Is this normal?

Really not complaining

No one warned us about this – the whole ‘adjustment’ thing.  In the maelstrom that has been our lives recently I didn’t expect this to be so difficult.  We have gone from two fit and healthy people to one fit person and one dealing with a life limiting illness back to two people, one of whom has had his sentence changed.  If that sounds clumsy, its because it is.  

We made a huge paradigm shift, we took on board  the fact that Steve had cancer, that it had spread, that it was fairly aggressive, that the prognosis wasn’t fantastic.  You know hard that was.

Now, praise the Lord, its all been cut out, no more was found, his prognosis is ‘much better’ (we will find out how much better when Steve sees the surgeon next week) .  It has taken a while to get our heads around this.  I have grown independent over the last few weeks, because I felt I had to, I had to be strong and self sufficient.  I am changing back, not to a needy person, but to one who can once again risk asking for someone’s help.  Once again, I am learning that I am not on my own and can rely on Steve.  There were some very tricky things to deal with at work yesterday and it was so good to come home and tell Steve and get his help and advice.  Then, of course, he can regain his manly role.  We have a very traditional relationship, one that relishes the old stereotypes, so everyone – I am back in the kitchen!  And Steve has taken up the hunter gatherer  mantle once more.  Normality is returning.  

As I left the house today there was a great deal of activity in the garage.  The work bench was up and the drill was out.  New number plates onto the Supra (please don’t say they look the same – you would be missing the subtlety of the title text ‘ticks all the boxes’) and old ones on the boys bedroom walls!

We saw the lymphodema nurse this week.  Probably best that I leave it at that – but you may want to know (on the other hand, you may not) that Steve is now wearing tight underpants as a preventative measure.  And, Steve worked out in the gym yesterday – he’s my model client.  Certainly ticks all my boxes.

Why me?

When the unexpected happens it’s a common thing to say ‘ why me?’  Its as if there is some universal answer as to why something has happened to us.  Its as if something or someone, remote and distanced, has foisted something on us. 

When Steve was first diagnosed with cancer, that was a ‘why me’ moment.  Why should he get cancer, why when we had been through so much – should we have yet more to contend with?  There was a ‘what have we done wrong to deserve this’ discussion.  There was also a ‘if this is part of God’s plan for us, we are not at all sure that we want his plan any more’ time.

Then there was a realisation, a reality that said, ‘why not’.  Why should Steve not get cancer?  What makes us so special that we have a right not to have suffering in our lives, and who decides that enough is enough?  The question is not, therefore, ‘why me?’ but it is ‘why not me?’

I can’t say I understood ‘ why us’  those few short, interminable weeks ago.  I know that cancer has tested our faith, it has tested our relationship, our health and threatened our contentment and our normality.  I know too, that it has given our friends and our family reason to doubt but also reason to shine.  We have gained strength from likely sources and from unlikely sources.  Prayer, cards, tissues and love, don’t ever underestimate the power of any of these.  A touch, a smile, a text, a comment, more precious than jewels.  We have had help from those we know and those we don’t know.  Our blog is being used as a learning resource as well as an update and a connection.  For me it has been a lifeline, a cathartic outpouring. 

‘Why me’ has forced me to look at miracles and the power of prayer.  I have reflected on the news that there is no further spread in any of the lymph nodes, and I chose to believe that this is due to the power of God.  I don’t think the surgeon will write it in Steve’s notes, but we have witnessed God’s work here.

But then we have an equally big ‘why me’.  Those of you in Church on Sunday may have noticed that Steve’s usual immaculate, public visage slipped.  Steve cried.  He cried because through God’s grace we have a new normal, a new normal that can see life, can see a future, can see the boys growing up and can see me getting old.  We can see a normal that we didn’t think we would ever see again. 

We are away at the caravan just now, seeking contentment, finding our lives again, finding our normal.  Wondering why God has chosen us to go on, to live, to love, to grow.  We are asking again, ‘why me’?

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