“My doctor called. They want to rerun my PSA test. It was high.”
“It’s probably a fluke….” I totally believed it was.
Another appointment. Another blood test.
Another phone call… “It’s still high. I need to go see a urologist. Dr S said he checked the box on a whim. They don’t usually check PSA until you’re 50.”
I fought panic with my super power of denial. I tried to research our way out of it. “Maybe it’s just an enlarged prostate. PSA tests can be affected by that,too. It doesn’t just mean cancer.”
Another appointment. As we sat in a waiting room full of men old enough to be our grandparents.. (ok maybe our parents) we held hands.
“It’s probably a fluke. These tests are pretty controversial… high failure rate. ” I said, over and over… trying to convince myself, my husband and maybe God. My stomach felt like the neighborhood trampoline by the time they called his name.
The nurse asked about symptoms and history… “No.Nope. No…” He answered over and over. I was buoyed by hope… you can’t have cancer without symptoms or history.. right?
We pushed her for information…”So these tests are pretty controversial.. huh? Can a PSA this high be something other than cancer? I bet you see this all the time.” We didn’t really want information.. we wanted affirmation… that we were right. That it was a fluke. That it wasn’t cancer. It couldn’t be.
The doctor came in. My hands started to sweat. We asked the same questions we’d asked the nurse. He was not affirming. “Your results do not fall into the grey area of these tests. This is something to take a closer look at. Let’s do an exam.”
Before I could leave the room, he had my husband drop his drawers (trust me, I tried to leave. Not really something that calls for togetherness.) Before I could stand up, and grab my bag.. I heard the snap of a latex glove. Too late. I tried to look anywhere, but THERE. I memorized the cover of the Time Magazine in the magazine rack. (December 2008, of course.)
“Ok, Ok… ” He said.. then silence.
Again, the snap of the latex glove caught my attention. The exam was over. My husband pulled his pants up, and we both hoped all was fine.
” I found a lump that feels like it could be cancerous. We’ll need to do a biopsy, but I’d say it’s about a 70% chance of being cancer.” Tears filled my eyes and sobs clogged my throat as I tried to stifle them. I couldn’t.
“It’s a fluke” Was replaced by a new obsessive thought… “Will he die?”
I was afraid to ask.
“So, what do you think?” My husband asked…
“I think your primary care physician saved your life.” Said the urologist.
That was about a month ago. What’s followed is a biopsy and another call. The one we dreaded. The called that changed our lives. The call that ended the hope that it was s fluke and replaced it with the hope that he’ll survive.
The call that confirmed that my husband has prostate cancer.
We’ve cried, we’ve prayed, we’ve talked and avoided. He’s had a bone and CT scan. The cancer hasn’t spread, but its of a faster growing type. I feel,like a clock is ticking. We’re waiting for the appointment with the surgeon and radio-oncologist.
It wasn’t a fluke. It sucks. This will affect every aspect of our lives, from work, to family to sex and daily life. I don’t know what it will be like. There are no guarantees. We’re hopeful. It’s been caught early and should be curable. We believe our primary care physician didn’t just check that box on a whim. It was God’s direction.
Cancer sucks. I’ve developed a case of cancer Tourette’s. I struggle to not scream out “my husband has cancer.” as I walk though the Christmas decorated mall. I have told random strangers when they innocently asked ” how are you?” (the cashier at Target hugged me. Or maybe she was trying to restrain me so I could be taken to crazy-ville. FYI: everyone that asks, doesn’t necessarily want to know how you really are…)
Part of me wants to be a grinch and stop the world from celebrating. I want to shout: “Hello! We have cancer here! It’s not time to party!” The other part wants to make sure this is the best Christmas ever. You know. Just in case.
I hate having these thoughts. But they are real and normal. When cancer enters your life if brings grief, even if you beat it. (which we’re planning to do!) We grieved over having to tell our college boys. (Telling your kids their dad has cancer, is like telling them there is no Santa. Life changes in an instant. It was, however, a conversation they handled better than we did. My boys are amazing.) We grieved over telling our parents. (Parents never expect their KIDS to be seriously ill, it just feels wrong. It’s a loss of comfort for them.)
We grieved. And now-we’re waiting. Waiting
Thursday we meet with the surgeon and the radio- oncologist. The urologist said they would be aggressive in treatment. We’re afraid but ready for a fight.
God is already involved. He is here. With us. Even in cancer.
And even if I hate it. Actually, I’m pretty sure that Jesus hates cancer too.
Dear lord, I ask you to continue to be present even here, as we face cancer. I pray for your healing and your presence every step of the way. God I pray that you be with our whole family as we do this together. Help us get through potential fears, and side effects and come out stronger than ever- in our faith, hope, bodies and love. I love you lord, even if I hate this current season of life. Please help me focus on you, and help Christmas be a reminder of all you’ve done. In Jesus name- amen.
PSA: to my readers- if you have men in your life- schedule them an appointment. Prostate cancer is treatable if it’s caught early- but guys don’t like to be checked…show them this post. It’s better to be checked than to be dead.