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Diary: Saturday the 5th, July 2014 … biopsy results.
The last thing you want to hear your husband say when getting his biopsy results is “fuck!”
We have the results, and they are not what we were hoping for — but are what we expected. It is a sarcoma — a cancer that has begun in Bren’s femour. The odd thing is, he has a tumour in both femurs — in the same spot on each. The right side tumour is the biggest of the two.
It’s a serious diagnosis. And a hard one to hear, but now we know. The next step is to get Bren better. There is no treatment plan yet, but we imagine one will be ready soon. We are staying positive. We have to, it’s the only choice we can make. That, along with Bren’s, let’s get on with it, attitude — is keeping us going.
Bren is physically fit and strong, which is something to feel good about — and a huge plus when it comes to his recovery and the treatment he will have to endure. He’s good at endurance.
We have the best family, friends, colleagues and community, supporting him and our little family. And Bren is getting the best medical treatment available. He will receive his treatment in a purpose-built cancer hospital capable of treating this rare, aggressive cancer. It is worth the 8 hour round trip by car for his oncology clinics and treatment.
We promise to keep you as updated with Brendan’s progress as possible.
11 July 2014 — the waiting game
Almost a month has passed between Brendan’s initial consultation with his Orthopaedic Surgeon in the city and receiving the biopsy results. The waiting has been fraught with inexplicable anxiety, sitting within moments that feel like hours. Not knowing what is happening with his treatment plan is frustrating and a bit scary.
Impatient, I rang the doctor’s office hoping to find out when treatment would start. I spoke to Molly, a pleasant, helpful girl in reception, and she assured me that we would know what was happening soon. I hoped [soon] meant tomorrow.
Throughout the month, Brendan has remained calm, upbeat and strong. I wonder, often, if I were in his shoes would I show that much courage. I hope I would. Waiting has been challenging and out of our control. I am trying to practice patience. I keep telling myself everyone is doing all they can and we will have news soon.
Besides Brendan’s strength and grace — there are a few things that seem to be getting him through the tough days. His ability to laugh and our ability to laugh together help maintain a sense of normality in everything we do. Humour is our go-to when things get tough. Laughing helps.
We have to put keeping [normal things] at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter if we are catching up with friends, listening to the kids playing in the street, getting chores done or hanging out in the backyard having a picnic lunch in the sun.
Small things matter when you find yourself restricted –Brendans leg is compromised at the tumour in his right femour. The bone has cracked and could snap with any sort of unexpected pressure. If this happens the cancer cells will no longer be contained to that area. It would be devastatingly dangerous. Suffice to say we are not venturing out unless absolutely necessary until the tumour is removed. This could still be months off.
Another thing that helps me through this strange and frightening time is to write about what we are going through. Writing is cathartic and comforting. It helps me to see it all written down. It’s easier to make sense of everything. I will be writing a lot.
20 July 2014 — road trip to recovery
Last Wednesday, I sent an email to Bren’s treating hospital, (NB: I recommend you put everything in writing if you ever find yourself where we are) and requested his treatment plan be organised for him promptly. He had waited long enough. And I couldn’t wait any longer. I’m not a patient person apparently. The next day we had a call from the team. They want Brendan down there for his next clinic appointment as soon as possible.
Due to the speed of the reply, I am sure the timing of the call was a coincidence and had nothing to do with my email. After what has felt like a long wait — it’s all go. We find out the details of Brendan’s treatment plan this Tuesday.
We are packing and getting organised, ready to hit the road to recovery — anxious and hopeful. Bren has no idea how he will tolerate chemotherapy. But he is willing to do whatever it takes to rid himself of cancer. He has two kids to raise.
Sometimes I scream uncontrollably inside my head at the thought of my husband going through all of this. I can’t imagine how it feels for him. Someone who has had chemotherapy told me recently — you realise having it how sick you have to be before you’re dead. It was confronting to hear. But the person who said it didn’t mean to scare me. She was letting me know we are stronger than we think. And we can fight and win against incredible odds.
Sitting in the clinic waiting room on this bright, sunny Tuesday, I ask Bren how he’s going.
“I have two choices. I can fall in a heap, or I can keep moving forward,” he said.
He has never been one to stand still or take a backward step. That’s why he will always choose to move forward.
I am posting Chapter 17 within days of the 4th anniversary of Bren’s death.
The beginning of his cancer story remembered at the anniversary of the end.
I miss him. I have said it before and it never becomes less true — sometimes it feels like he was only here yesterday and sometimes it feels like a million years ago. I don’t think that will ever change.
If you are looking for Grief Support — for you are someone you care for,
Refuge in Grief is very helpful.
For more information on Sarcoma and Rare Cancers follow the links below.