It is Thursday, July 29th and the finish line is in sight for my dear husband Sam. After being diagnosed with Head and Neck Cancer on May 3rd and enduring three months that included major surgery, a feeding tube and tracheotomy not to mention six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, he has only two treatments left before he comes home.
Everyday when I talk to him on the phone, I can tell it is a struggle for him just to put a sentence together. And it doesn’t help that I can’t hear very well and he has to repeat everything he says at least once. The treatments have ravaged his body. He has blisters on his neck and his entire body is broken out with a hideous rash. On the up-side, he has not lost his hair. Thank you Lord, there is only so much a person can handle. He says his face feels like he has the worst sun burn ever.
While at Mayo he has been staying at the Hope Lodge, a godsend for us, as it is provided free of charge by the American Cancer Society for patients receiving chemo and radiation. He has been with people going through the same experience, hopefully developing friendships and it is not as lonely has staying in a hotel.
Meanwhile, I have been home taking care of the dogs, knowing that is one less thing Sam has to worry about. Thank God I live closer to home. I have been going back to Kalamazoo often to see my friends and family, dogs in tow. It has been a life saver for me, allowing me to talk things out with objective people and not keep feelings pent up inside. You all are treasures in my life.
But our journey is far from over. The next two weeks for Sam will be hard, as the cumulative effects of his treatments will still be working. In four weeks he will return to Mayo for an assessment of his condition. Then he will go back every three months for checkups. His particular type of cancer is very aggressive and the risk for return within the first couple of years is high. He has promised me he will be vigilant in taking care of himself.
As we face this next period in our lives, we will look only forward and make the most of the time we have, day by day. Because really, isn’t today all any of us can be sure of? That’s why they call it the present, every day is a gift.