14-15 May 2014 …Finding Cancer

May 14 2014

My Husband is living with Cancer! There  I’ve said it. I need to get my head around this awful sentence, because today we have found out that it is a strong possibility.

Brendan has always been fit and healthy! He has never smoked, anything. Never done recreational drugs, has always eaten well and in the last few years has pretty much stopped drinking alcohol; due to an allergic type reaction to most types. He is the last person you would expect to get sick, and we would never have imagined him getting cancer.

He is now looking at a possible diagnosis, putting him amongst  a group of too many amazing people that we know, who over the last few years have hand cancer. Many have survived, devastatingly and heartbreakingly, some have not.  None would have seemed to have the unimaginable face of cancer.  But did and we have just found out, Brendan’s is now as likely as anyone to be that face too.

Indiscriminate, cancer can strike no matter who you are. Being fit and in his prime was no deterrent, Brendan was as easy a target as the young, the elderly and anyone in between. It seems that having a strong body and mind may not prevent him from getting cancer, but will help him withstand a difficult treatment plan week after week, if a diagnosis comes.

May 16 2014

Yesterday, just after lunch, we arrived at the Doctor’s rooms quietly anxious, but on time. The reception was empty, but for two girls having an animated conversation about someone’s sister’s, auntie’s baby. They looked up with surprise to see us standing at the reception desk, and asked what we needed. We told them we were there to see the Doctor, to which the older of the two said, oh no, doctor’s not in today, he has surgeries all day.

We looked at each other, confused, and told them that the Taree office had organised for us to be there today, at this time.  After a few phone calls and some awkward glances taken in our direction, the younger woman eventually came over and showed us into the doctor’s office, saying kindly, doctor will be with you shortly, he said he would pop over and see you between surgeries. She smiled apologetically and hurried out of the room.

It felt odd sitting there in a quiet, poorly lit consultaion room, just the two of us. Waiting, hoping, worrying. We sat side by side, we didn’t speak that I remember, but we knew that this was not how good news was delivered. Pale, shaken and too afraid to open my mouths for fear of what might happen, I tried to focus an anything but what was going on, but couldn’t. Barely breathing, it was like we were existing in the twilight zone. I knew that today was the day that our lives would change forever, and not because of anything we had or hadn’t done. Things would never be the same again. I heard a voice in my head reminding me to breathe. That’s all I could do.

Our nightmare was about to begin. Dressed in scrubs, the doctor hurried in not long after we had sat down. It felt like an eternity. He sat, pulled his chair toward us and brushed his thick fringe back, over the top of his head, in what seemed like a nervous gesture. He looked at us very seriously, with kindness, and thanked us for coming in. He explained that he didn’t want to give us this kind of news over the phone.

And there it was, the news we didn’t want, and he hadn’t even said it yet. I heard myself exhale sharply and looked straight at Bren. He was bracing himself, I could tell because of the way he was sitting – stiff, straight back, hands clenched tightly.

“I’m sorry this looks like it might be nasty,” The Doctor said, with great compassion and care.

I felt hot tears fill my eyes as Brendan’s body slumped beside me,  like the breath had just been sucked out of him. His chin quivered ever so slightly. Shock set in as we went on to speak with the doctor about what would happen next — like we hadn’t just heard the worst news of our lives.

As he flicked Bren’s scans up onto the light box with the ease of someone who has done the same thing many times over, Doctor White told us  for what it was he thought Brendan had, there was only one Doctor in the state he would consider sending him to. I was still stunned by the two black spots on Brendans femurs, the right twice the size of the left, and was only half listening. You didn’t have to be a doctor to know that wasn’t a good scan.

Then I heard him say, Brendan this looks nasty, we need to get you in to see him as soon as possible, and my attention was back were it needed to be. The new doctor was in Sydney, and did a weekly clinic at the cancer hospital there. He was also a Orthopaedic Surgeon, and head of the Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma Unit at one of the Cities larger hospitals.

We knew Brendan would be in good hands, it also didn’t take a rocket scientist too work out we were dealing with cancer. Now we had to find out how bad this cancer was.

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