A few weeks ago we thought Casey was out of the woods. The cancer was (almost certainly) gone minus a small active spot in his lungs which they would check out with a bronchoscopy and which, if it was cancerous, they could remove surgically. No big deal. We told everyone the good news and we celebrated. For the first time in a long time, a weight was lifted and Casey could (pun intended) breathe a bit easier. We all could.
Then they did an MRI of his brain and found a lesion – a brain tumor, likely a metastasis from the lung cancer because, apparently, chemo doesn’t reach the brain due to a blood to brain barrier. Suddenly we were back at the beginning, talking radiation for his brain and new rounds of chemo to battle any leftover cancer in the body. And he heard that news on his own because it was just a routine appointment with the doctor. I wasn’t there for him. Again. And while I wanted to cry, I didn’t because it was still my turn to be strong. So instead, I got angry.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately feeling angry. I’m angry Casey has cancer. I’m angry I have to work and I’m missing precious time with toddler. I’m angry with all of the people I know who take their lives for granted or who take each other for granted. I’m angry that we’ve spent the first year of Zoey’s life in and out of hospitals, that I haven’t mothered her on my own because I’m not always here to do it. I’m angry that time has been stolen from Casey, from us, and from Zoey. I’m angry at everything all of the time because if don’t get angry, then I’m going to start crying and never stop.
Because much of that anger is actually fear – fear and sadness with a little exhaustion mixed in. Marriage is hard. Motherhood is hard. And when you throw in a brute force like cancer, it’s a recipe for pure disaster and a wonder we don’t collapse under its weight. Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get out of bed and I contemplate faking sick to escape rest. I feel cheated out of something, everything, but I’m not sure what it is. And I feel myself cracking.
…my sister offers to take the monitor for a night so I can sleep.
…Amanda sends me a text that makes me belly laugh.
…Casey makes homemade lasagna and takes Zoey for a ride on the “gof car.”
…a friend makes us dinner and drops it off so we have one less thing to worry about after radiation.
…our parents come to visit and take care of us all for a few days, cooking and cleaning and caring like only parents can.
And I feel better, refreshed, rejuvenated enough to keep going for a little while longer, until the next piece of kindness is thrown our way.
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This is the third draft of a blog that’s been aching to be written. It’s evolved as I opened a little more of myself. I wanted to write something positive, something free of the darkness I so often feel. I wanted to write something funny, something hopeful and light. I wanted to write about marriage and the inner strength I’ve seen in Casey. But writing doesn’t work that way; more often than not, the writing takes something that you didn’t know you needed to say until you did. And I guess I needed to write this – I needed to be heard. So, thank you for reading this and for hearing me, and thank you for being here with us. It’s not been an easy year but each of you, through your acts, thoughts, prayers, friendship, and love have helped make it a little bit better.