"It's not good," he began. In short: The cancer has spread to my hip and my lungs. Yes, that is the reason my hip has been bothering me and not clearing up. All this time I thought it was pregnancy related, and instead it was this horrible, horrible cancer taking up residence in even more of my body.
I know this is an aggressive cancer, and that survival rates go down considerably when there is a recurrence. I didn't have the courage to ask Dr. T. for any quantifiable chances of treatment success, so I just asked if my prognosis was not very good. "It's not very good," he said. By the end of the phonecall, my hand was shaking so much that Ben's bottle slipped out of his mouth and he started crying again.
The next step is to meet with the medical oncologist, Dr. S., on Monday, where we should learn more and find out what's next. Chemo, most likely, Dr. T. said. And maybe they could do some radiation on my hip to relieve some of the pain, he said. He gave me his cell phone number in case Steve or I needed to ask him anything else over the weekend.
I sat on the couch, numb, uncomprehending, wishing Steve were there. Five minutes after I got off the phone, it rang again. It was Liz. She asked me how things were going. "Not good," I said, and started crying. She came right over and stayed with me until Steve got home.
Daniel was asleep when Steve walked through the door with him in his arms. I slipped Daniel's shoes off him, and we walked toward the bedroom to put him down for a nap. "I think I'll take a bath," Steve said. "Actually, we need to talk," I said. "Dr. T. got ahold of me." And as we slipped Daniel onto the bed and out of his jacket, I told him.
And then we cocooned ourselves in our house for the rest of the day and night, not going out or answering the phone. What followed — the words shared, the brokenhearted tears shed, the gestures of love exchanged, the precious innocence of our beloved children — I will leave to your imaginations.
Addendum: Monday afternoon. I can barely write about this right now. The oncologist today used the words: "probably not curable." So anything we are doing right now is a matter of buying time. I have a PET scan tomorrow and probably start chemotherapy next week.
Child care. We're going to need it more than ever. Thanks to those who volunteered before. I may be calling you.
And I'm probably going to have to wean Ben from breastfeeding in the next day or so, which is a heartbreak in itself. I can't do it for something like four days after the PET scan, and not during chemo, either.
Last night I popped a pacifier in his mouth for the first time when he was having trouble falling asleep. I thought, what the heck ... it's not like we need to avoid nipple confusion now. That's going to be the least of this sweet boy's worries.
I need to believe that a miracle is possible right now. At the same time, I need to face reality and prepare myself and my family for the worst outcome. Our poor boys. My heart is breaking a million times a day, and so is Steve's. It's so unfair.
If there is a bright side to any of this, it's that the unimportant, superficial things in our lives have suddenly fallen away, and we are intensely focused on what remains truly important, which is each other, our family, and making the most of the time we have together now. "It feels like we just met again," Steve said. Like we're falling in love all over again.
Excuse my lack of pants, but we had this totally wonderful family moment on the bed last night, and Steve ran and grabbed the camera. We've been doing that a lot lately ... documenting things.
Daniel loves to rest his head on Ben and "hug" him, especially when he's crying. He's really good at empathizing and anticipating Ben's needs. "Baby sad," he says. "Baby eat booby." "Mommy sad."