My husband had his CT scan yesterday to see how his cancer was doing after his first complete round of chemo.
The scan showed no evidence of disease, or NED as it’s referred to in the cancer community.
You’d think that would be good news, right? But his oncologist wanted him to stay on chemo anyway and couldn’t really explain why.
So today he had a consult with a different oncologist at UT Southwestern, which is the best hospital in our area. It’s also affiliated with MD Anderson, which is I believe the best cancer hospital in the US if not the world.
The oncologist at UTSW said my husband’s actual diagnosis is likely stage 3, not stage 4. That alone dramatically increases his chance of survival because the odds for stage 4 are so grim.
The UTSW oncologist also said my husband doesn’t need more chemo now and will instead have blood tests and CT scans every 3 months to watch closely for recurrence.
However, the new oncologist also said that my husband’s at high risk of recurrence, especially in the first couple of years.
Yet here’s where my naïveté or blind optimism comes into play: I am choosing to believe that if we got this one miracle, we can get more. Maybe it’s greedy on my part, but I feel like I’ve had so many miracles in my life already and maybe it’s a better default position to just assume there will be more.
I have a sign in my bathroom that says “miracles don’t just happen; you have to believe that they will.” I looked at that sign whenever my hope was lagging during the six months of chemo.
I really do try to be positive, and some of my friends have said that my positivity is inspiring, especially in light of the hardships I faced this year. Sometimes, I had low moments when the positivity lost out to fear, which I wrote about here. But for the most part, I just didn’t let myself stay in that mode for long.
My husband’s cancer and chemo treatment was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through and I know it was worse for him than it was for me.
But there’s nothing to make you truly feel like “no day but today” than to confront the mortality of your spouse in such a visceral way. When you get the news that everything you hoped for came true, it almost seems too good to be real. In many ways, it still hasn’t sunk in for me yet.
Maybe we’ll have many more years left to enjoy being together. Our story isn’t over yet. And that feels like the best Christmas gift I possibly could have gotten this year.