Since my last blog post, October 23, 2018, our Unplanned journey took a turn. I mentioned in my last post that one of Howard’s cancer “treatments” took him down a path that was simply not sustainable… life threatening colitis, and our former cancer clinic suggested he double up on Imodium. I knew taking Imodium, double dose, for the rest of his life was not a sustainable option. We learned it was not only unsustainable, it, too, was life threatening. I asked if the colitis would eventually go away after his body adjusts to OPDIVO. The answer was, “it may not”. He proceeded to receive the scheduled OPDIVO treatment. His condition worsened. He lost weight he didn’t have to lose.
I turned to a well renowned cancer hospital. Our timing couldn’t have been more divinely orchestrated. With one phone call, within 2 hours, we had an appointment. I must have called during a slow time (pre-Thanksgiving) or perhaps they had just received a cancellation. I don’t know why it was so quick, but HP and I were stunned. This took a little processing, but we enthusiastically said yes. We got our flights, lodging and began packing. We were at the Clinic the next week.
Getting the medical records transferred did not go smoothly. Not knowing if they would actually have the records prior to our first appointment, I reconstructed a chronological timeline from our calendars and numerous patient portals. There was some benefit in walking down memory lane. It was amazing where our steps on the Unplanned journey had taken us, only to be buried in our memories with each new event and path. On our drive to Denver airport, the Clinic called and said they received HP’s medical records. I was so happy, my voice screeched in her ear.
As one can imagine, the first appointment consisted of walking through the medical details and my timeline of the past. The new medical team needed to reconstruct his past before they could look to the future. Standards blood tests, MRI of the brain and PET/CT scan were ordered and completed. A follow up appointment was set. Thankfully, for the weekend, we were able to retreat to the Galveston area to stay with HP’s relatives. It was a very special 2 days. HP cooked Sunday dinner after visiting the fresh fish market. ❤️
After our special family time, we flew home, rested one day, repacked and drove to Guffey to celebrate a late Thanksgiving with family. But not before learning on thanksgiving eve, via of his patient portal, that the lung cancer had crossed the blood brain barrier. We were devastated. In shock. I left 2 voicemails with the Clinic, one before thanksgiving day and one after. I accepted the electronic results and was thankful they did not hesitate to let us know what is happening even if it was the day before Thanksgiving. Years ago, I started developing a love for transparency. As I thought about it more, I became grateful for the Clinic’s transparency. What a test that was to my belief. I still feel the same. We kept rereading the results. It was only the summaries we understood. Even though we have lots of practice acknowledging fear thoughts and shifting them to light thoughts, this time was different. Our fear, hurt, pain was deep and enduring. It was heavy.
In my last blog post, I wrote my thoughts that happy and sad coexist. Along the same lines, HP and I reminded each other that we need to experience our feelings fully. There is such a strong tendency to suppress and bury the dark. I’ve done it in the past as a coping skill. I’ll admit, this time around, it seemed like the best option. But an inner voice gave me permission to feel and experience it all with a gentle reminder from this voice, “just don’t dwell there”.
We relived the news by letting family and friends know. We relived the news in our minds. We seldom, if ever, thought about anything else. I asked HP if he had the energy to go through with our plans to visit best of friends in Atlanta. HP did not hesitate. He said, “I’m not going to stop doing fun things and making new memories.” We started the laundry and got repacked for Atlanta weather.
As it turned out, Atlanta weather was pretty much the same as Colorado weather. But it did not matter. We were with our friends who, over the years, have become family. We laughed, cried, reminisced, shopped, ate the best foods, drank the best wines, took pictures, went to the fanciest movie theatre I’ve ever seen, exercised (once 😊), and made the promise special friends make, “we will always be here for you, and we know you will be here for us, too”.
While in Atlanta, the PET/CT scan results were posted to his patient portal. The lingo we understand is in the summary, the cancer is active. Thankfully, we were still with our friends who experienced this news with us. Time with family friends has been a blessing.
Next week, we return to Houston. Our return date to Colorado is uncertain. We will consult with radiology and have our previously scheduled follow-up visit with oncology. They have hinted there will be more tests. Perhaps treatments.
This weekend, we will rest, embrace peace and love, and I will surrender to the divine flow. Come Monday, we will enter the week with renewed energy and have our Hearts, eyes and ears wide open. And today, our eyes see more special times with friends and family on the horizon. What a beautiful sight that is.
Thank you, family who are friends, and friends who are family, for your love and support on this journey. You have said, “We will always be here for you”. I feel the same about you all, “I will always be here for you”. May peace be ever present for all of us.