With the release of A Thousand Sleepless Nights just two months away my thoughts are turning more and more toward a battle that too many fight. Cancer. The book is about cancer, how it invades and destroys, strikes fear, steals joy, dumps buckets full of anxiety and uncertainty, but ultimately, if you let it, gives the gift of a blessing. In the story, Nena Hutching is a woman who has endured a bumpy but beautiful life living on a thoroughbred farm in northern Virginia. Her life, though, is full of regrets and when she finds out she has cancer those regrets prop themselves up and stare her straight in the face.
Much of the character development is drawn from my own experience with cancer so for the next couple months I want to share some of that journey with you. It’s a story that’s not unlike millions of others who have travelled or are travelling the same road. My story is one of fear and uncertainty and a roller coaster of emotions, but ultimately it’s a story of hope and blessings, of light and glory. It’s a story of God’s grace.
I hope you’ll share these posts with others you know who have experienced cancer, whether personally or through a loved one or friend. They may find some comfort in knowing they aren’t/weren’t alone in their battle. And I welcome comments, experiences, questions. I’d love to know how others were feeling, how they coped, where they found strength, normalcy, hope.
My story began in early 2008 with bleeding where it shouldn’t be. Over the course of a few weeks it got heavier and heavier until I finally saw the family doctor who referred me for a colonoscopy. We were both thinking a mild case of colitis. Imagine my surprise when the gastroenterologist showed me color photos of a tumor the size of a golf ball residing in my colon. The thing looked hideous, like a monster with a will of its own. He said he took a biopsy and would notify me as soon as the results came in. A couple days later I got the call at work.
“Michael,” he said, “I’m very sorry but you have colon cancer.”
I didn’t know what to say so I thanked him and hung up the phone. I called my wife, Jen, and told her what he’d said then finished my work day and headed home. I was numb and thinking irriationally, assuming it was just a quick procedure to extract the tumor and be done with the little monster inside me. No more cancer. Have a nice life.
That evening we argued. Jen couldn’t understand why I wasn’t more upset; I didn’t understand why she was so upset.
Neither of us had any idea of the storm that was brewing just over the horizon and how much we would need each other in the next ten months.
You’re invited to share your own experience with diagnosis here, whether you’re a survivor or know a survivor. Please share these posts. I’d love to get a small community of survivors and caregivers/friends/loved ones involved in this discussion.