Hope turns things around

I’m still scared shitless of Covid but other than that, I’m much less scared than I used to be about my husband’s cancer. We have to get new tires soon on my car and just got a new mattress and I’m no longer worrying that he won’t be around for the lifespan of those items. I can’t tell you what a huge weight that’s lifted off my shoulders, no longer dealing with the belief that he won’t be here in five years.

I found this site, which I think I alluded to before. It’s a calculator through MD Anderson (top cancer hospital, with which my husband’s hospital is affiliated) and you put in the original stage of the cancer and the features of the tumor. His tumor features were all the worst of the worst.

But in making it to one year after his initial surgery with chemo, his risk for this second year goes down to 30 percent. At year three, it goes down to 9 percent. At year four, it’s one percent.

Apparently, it’s that first year after the discovery of cancer and the response to chemo that’s so critical. I’m really glad that I didn’t find that out until after he’d already passed the one-year mark or I would have been even more of a wreck than I already was.

So now I’m focused on the thought—no, belief—that he’s going to make it and will be around for a while. There was a time about six months ago when I wasn’t too sure about that. After all, “the statistics” say that the 5-year survival rate of someone with stage IV cancer is about 17 percent. That’s pretty fucking grim. But people are not statistics and he’s already beaten so many major hurdles.

Now I’m left with the question: what am I, what are we, going to do with the gift of bonus time? It’s rare that you get this kind of second chance, this hope when all was lost. I have the beginnings of an essay about this rattling around in my brain. But for now, I can say that it’s such a profound gift to have these extra days, to have hope and faith in his future. I won’t waste it.

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