The fear never really leaves

My husband’s doctor told him today that they found two polyps while performing his surgery yesterday. The very weird thing is that he just had a colonoscopy a month ago and they didn’t find them then.

Maybe it’s just because I’m more worried about him since he’s in the hospital and I’m at home, but I’m finding it difficult not to immediately jump to worst-case scenarios that the cancer has come back. If it has and they missed it just a month ago, that would suggest it’s a very aggressive recurrence.

Rationally, I know enough about medicine in general and cancer in particular to know that colon cancer rarely returns in the colon. It’s much more likely to show up in the lungs or the liver when it comes back. I’m clinging to this for dear life and trying to ignore the little voice whispering to me that even though recurrence in the colon is uncommon, it’s not impossible.

More, it just reminds me of what life is like after you’ve heard those first tragic words: your husband has stage IV cancer. You never really feel safe again. Stage IV is by definition incurable. I’ve been so encouraged and hopeful based on his response to treatment so far that I’ve gotten into a mindset (quite intentionally cultivated) that he’ll beat the incredibly grim five-year survival statistics.

But I can’t lie: this latest finding freaks me out more than a little. He’s almost two years out from his initial diagnosis and honestly, I’ve been believing that he’ll be around for at least 5-10 more years. But the truth is that I don’t really know that for sure. Everybody wants to believe that they’ll be the one to beat the statistics, but the fact remains that 85 percent don’t.

I’m sure that I’m feeling more down because I’m extra sleep-deprived and exhausted. I’ll probably be back to my usual more optimistic self soon. It’s just a reminder that once you’ve heard a cancer diagnosis, it permanently puts you on edge. You try your best to block it out and sometimes succeed, but it doesn’t take much to bring it back to the forefront of your mind again.

I’m not much for praying these days but please God, don’t let this be a recurrence. Let us have more time.

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