Small Success: 6 More Months

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I purposely waited to do this today. Early this morning, as soon as TheKid got on the school bus (a Small Success in his own right, given his track record for making the bus), Hubs and I headed off to the cancer center for his checkup.

I had a container with 2 dozen cookies in hand, to thank the radiology staff who helped us through all the craziness with the needed referrals (thank you, ever-changing rules regarding who gets to provide what service for which patient…)

Yesterday, in the middle of all those awful moments when I was told Hubs wouldn’t be able to have the tests because of some insurance snafu, I cried. And then I prayed. I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own with this. I prayed before I made the next phone call I had to make. One Memorare Express Novena (9 Memorares plus a bonus one in thanksgiving) and a plea to St. Jude later, I dialed the phone, sat around on hold for a few minutes, then disconnected the call when my call-waiting showed Hubs’ primary physician was dialing in–to tell us that he could, indeed, have the tests today.

THERE IS NO WAY THAT WAS A COINCIDENCE. And yesterday was the feast of St. Jude, you know.

double chocolate cranberry cookies (3)My new friend in radiology was happy for the cookies and immediately gave me her email address so she could get the recipe. By the time Hubs was done with his CT scan, she’d printed it out.

The oncologist gave Hubs’ test results two thumbs up, so we’re all set for the next 6 months.

We had to stop back at radiology to take care of a few details before we left. I was annoyed at the inconvenience–we’d already been there almost 4 hours and I’d had enough. But back we went, and I sat down to wait.

And someone called my name. It was my favorite cashier from ShopRite. She and her husband go to our church, and he’s been quite sick recently. Today, he walked out of the X-Ray department looking better than I’ve seen him in weeks. He’d gotten a good report. We rejoiced together.

There are not a lot of good reports in cancer centers. There are not a lot of people leaving there with smiles on their faces. Today we, and our friends, did just that.

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#WorthRevisit: Waiting. Again.

We’re going for three.

Tomorrow we’re heading back to the cancer center for TheDad’s 3-year, 36,000-mile checkup. I’m not ashamed to ask for prayers for his good health, as well as for all the patients we will see who are living out hell on earth as they navigate treatment for this cruel disease.

UPDATE: waiting is even harder thanks to some stupid medical-insurance issues that I was TOLD were resolved last week. But this morning’s phone calls proved otherwise. Now it will be at least a week, if not longer, before this can be rescheduled. I am grateful to the people at the cancer center and our primary doctor’s office for trying really hard to work it out today. Unfortunately they were not successful.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: We are back in for tomorrow! I prayed a “Mother Teresa Express Novena” (9 Memorares plus a bonus one in thanksgiving) and a prayer to St. Jude. 10 minutes later the phone rang.

Here’s my look back at a post from 2 years ago:

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

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…at least, I hope it turns out to be that way.

Today TheDad and I will return to Philadelphia for his 1-year cancer checkup. He has 3 appointments:  an X-ray, a CAT scan and a meeting with the surgeon. (No, there’s no surgery on the agenda at the moment, but we both thought that the surgeon was a better choice for our follow-ups, just in terms of personality and ability and willingness to explain things clearly.)

My pocket Rosary is ready to go; it will keep me company while I am waiting. Even if I’m too distracted to pray, there is great comfort in holding this Rosary, made (and prayed) by a caring friend, in running my finger over each knot that represents so much, in gripping the cord tightly in my fist.

Please pray for us as we wait, as we attempt to keep the balance between hope and dread.

worth revisitLink up at Worth Revisit Wednesday, hosted by Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb!

Out of Control

I’ve been driving everyone around me crazy lately. There’s a lot to worry about, and if there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s worrying.

god first family then notre dameFor my birthday, my folk-group friends generously gave me 3 tickets for the Notre Dame-Temple football game. That game’s happening this weekend. Middle Sister loves football a lot more than Hubs, so she’s appropriated his ticket.

As the game approaches, I’ve found more and more things to worry about.

  • It’s an 8:00 game. That’s PM. I have a hard time staying awake through an 8:00 game, and now I’ll have to drive home afterward.
  • We’re fans of the visiting team. In Philly, that can be difficult.
  • I’m going to have to navigate TheKid, and his string backpack full of diabetes supplies and snacks, past whatever inspection stations you have to get past in order to get into the Linc.
  • Middle Sister wants to take the subway and meet us at the game. But it’s at night, and the return trip to LaSalle (past Temple, with all the Temple fans who will either be super euphoric or super angry) wouldn’t be pretty for a fan of the other team. And a 19-year-old girl traveling on the subway alone at that time of night? NO.
  • The game’s on Halloween. And did I mention that it’s an 8:00 game?

I just want to enjoy the opportunity to see my team play. And I know that’s all my friends wanted for me when they gave me those tickets.

Right now I’m deep into a state of general anxiety that makes me pretty difficult to live with. I’m getting ridiculously worried about all kinds of other things, things that I normally don’t think about. For example, last night we dropped TheKid off at the play. We had tickets, and he was called early, so we decided to go out to dinner before the show. I was wearing a white fleece jacket. All I could think about was that I should have packed a complete change of clothes (down to shoes) for both of us just in case a waiter spilled something on us, because we wouldn’t have time to go home and change.

I didn’t even say anything about that to Hubs, because how insane is that?

This morning I headed out to Wawa to get a hoagie for TheKid’s lunch today (he has two more shows, and we have to head straight from Mass to the theater to drop him off.) As I was driving, it occurred to me that no one knew where I was; they were both still sleeping at home; what if I got into an accident? How would they even know?

I need to make it stop, but I’m not sure I know how. I’m manufacturing worries here.

There are enough real things to worry about, and I suspect that I’m inventing fake worries to take my mind off the real stuff. I can’t do anything about the real things.

In four days, Hubs has an appointment at the cancer center for his 3-year, 36,000-mile checkup. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years. It feels like yesterday, and it also feels like forever ago. But that appointment is coming up. He’s super-stressed at work; I don’t know what’s going on there, because he has never been one to talk about things that happen at work. (He says he thinks about work enough while he’s there so he doesn’t want to talk about it at home.) He’s stressed about his mom in the nursing home. He doesn’t take good care of himself. Put all that together and you get a perfect storm for health problems.

I can’t control whether or not Hubs’ cancer has returned. There’s nothing I can do to change that.

Controlling every other little thing isn’t going to keep Hubs cancer-free either. So why can’t I make it stop?

Agony in the Garden: How I Spent Holy Thursday

"Bruley chapelle du Rosaire Gethsémani" by Utilisateur:Djampa - User:Djampa - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.
Bruley chapelle du Rosaire Gethsémani” by Utilisateur:DjampaUser:DjampaOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

On Thursday, Hubs had his 30-month/30,000-mile checkup at the cancer center.

That’s always a tense time. The doctor he was supposed to see had already rescheduled the appointment once, so we’d spent an extra two weeks wondering whether Hubs still gets to consider himself “healthy.”

The cancer center is an awful place. Don’t get me wrong; they give terrific care. But from the second you pull off that busy Philadelphia street onto the winding, tree-lined driveway, you enter into that world of clenching dread. It’s impossible not to. Every person, every family, in the place is dealing with their own personal hell.

A cancer center on any day of the week presents many, many versions of agony in the garden. On Holy Thursday, that was all I could think about.

As we sat in the waiting room of the imaging center (watching Rachael Ray wave around “chicken cutlets” of the non-edible variety and wondering why she didn’t just stick to cooking on her show) someone called our name. Someone we knew. Someone whose husband has been battling a very aggressive cancer for nearly two years now. Someone whose husband is in great pain.

We moved to stand near them in another part of the waiting area where there was room for his wheelchair. We hugged them, and listened, and all talked about our kids (because that’s what parents do) and waited together until Hubs’ CT scan was done and we had to go downstairs to see his doctor and get the results.

In the next waiting area, more agony. A family sitting together in a corner–husband, wife and adult daughter, chatting quietly in another language while an elderly man sat nearby and struck up a conversation with them. Turns out, they’d gotten good news that day. He shared that his wife wasn’t going to be able to beat this, that she wouldn’t even let him in to see the doctor with her.

And then he rejoiced with them–total strangers–on hearing their good news.

How much grace does it take to be able to do that?

I was practically in tears, in the waiting room, overhearing this.

We finally saw Hubs’ doctor. He got his all-clear for the next six months.

I am grateful. I am relieved.

But it’s hard to celebrate Hubs’ good news when so many of the people we saw there that day would not be receiving a similar prognosis. It’s hard to rejoice when someone we know is in pain.

Father, if you will it, let this cup pass away…

Survivor’s (Wife’s) Guilt

Last fall, Hubs found a ping-pong-ball size lump on his back and it turned out to be cancer:  a sarcoma, which is a rather rare type of cancer. After two surgeries (the first doctor did not suspect cancer) and a course of radiation, Hubs passed his first 6-month check last spring.

That is, of course, the best news I can hope for. I was able to share that good news with one of the moms from school, whose own husband was recently diagnosed with sarcoma. It’s always good to share hope. And, to be honest, it’s easy to share hope.

This dad, who has kids ranging from 11 to 17, had surgery earlier this week. This afternoon I found out that his cancer is stage 4.

Hope is not so easy to share with someone whose husband’s cancer is more advanced and more threatening than my husband’s was. I’m sure that the last thing she wants is for me to tell good-news stories. I’m sure that she is scared and angry and scared and worried and scared out of her mind…and did I mention scared?

I am offering prayers daily. I’m allowing Little Brother to invite her youngest to visit as often as possible. I’m keeping my mouth shut about Hubs being a survivor. She already knows, and I don’t see any sense in mentioning it again. Frankly, I feel terrible about this. 

What can I say or do to extend my support?