Diagnosis

Last fall, my husband received a devastating diagnosis. He has Stage IV metastasized prostate cancer. Although this news packs a powerful punch, and there is no soft, kind way to share it, I need to let you know about this major change in my life, dear friends. I am sorry for the pain such news causes.

We have had time now to process the initial shock, to learn much more about what happened and is happening to his body, to begin the process of “getting everything in order,” and to start letting people know about it (although he’s a very private person). And in the middle of all the adjustments and doctor appointments, we are living our new life, which now has a one to four year time limit to it.

We have entered a new world — the world of cancer patients, survivors, caretakers, doctors, nurses, technicians, counselors. Cancer has become the kernel of truth within our daily lives now. Ever-present.

Cancer is a tremendous opportunity to have your face pressed right up against the glass of your mortality.” But what patients see through the glass is not a world outside cancer, but a world taken over by it—cancer reflected endlessly around them like a hall of mirrors.

~ from The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

My husband describes the first months of his disease as “surreal.” Surreal because he felt mostly healthy and normal except for the side effects of his treatment medications, and some pain that came occasionally. His body has been tolerating his treatments well so the cancer has been controlled for the time being. That is slowly changing as this disease finds new ways to get around treatments, but the inevitable decline has not started, yet.

Cancer is an expansionist disease; it invades through tissues, sets up colonies in hostile landscapes, seeking “sanctuary” in one organ and then immigrating to another. It lives desperately, inventively, fiercely, territorially, cannily, and defensively—at times, as if teaching us how to survive. To confront cancer is to encounter a parallel species, one perhaps more adapted to survival than even we are.

~ from The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee

He entered this disease in excellent health, with excellent vital signs for his age, and no “co-morbidities,” using the term we’ve heard so often during this Covid-19 pandemic. He was, and still tries to be, active and fit. He feels his best when he is out on his bicycle. Genetic testing showed no genetic mutations that would have caused this to happen, and that, gratefully, are not something our children and my husband’s brothers need to worry about. It just happened. It is real…but it is not yet “real”. Surreal.

Right now, we are deeply grateful and profoundly sad. Grateful that we have time left to be together, to live life together. Grateful that we can face this disease side by side, as we have faced every other challenge in our 52 years together. Grateful for each day that he wakes up in the morning and is “mostly well.” At the same time, we are both profoundly sad, and the sadness comes in waves between otherwise “mostly normal” days.  We are seeing everything in life now through this new lens of impending loss, and are living each moment with crystal clarity. 

And from this vantage point, with deep feeling, I want to ask you to please cherish those you love. Please cherish yourself. Please cherish the daily-ness of your lives. Please cherish all the little things, because, as they say, those are truly the biggest and most important things. Live your life to its fullest, each day, because “today is all of time,” as my grandmother wrote in one of her poems. Today is all of time.

22 thoughts on “Diagnosis

    1. Robin Post author

      Thank you so much, Barbara. We’re focusing on having as many great days as possible. And I agree with you that cancer changes everything and changes nothing. At one moment it is a huge change, at another, nothing. I’m also going to share with my husband what you tell people — that you’re “in great health except for cancer.” That’s exactly how he has felt so far in this journey, although that is slowly changing. Thank you again.

      Like

      Reply
  1. Marlo Quick

    My very best to you and your husband as you follow this new path. It is a path and a diagnosis given to both of you. Cherish is a good choice for your word of the year and I know that you are living it every day. A friend of mine recently had a visitor to her home that commented on the magnificent tree in her yard. She said she had never really looked at the tree before and realized she was living with magnificence without even knowing it and made a resolution to look for the magnificent in her everyday surroundings. I would wish the very same for the two of you–sharing what is magnificent right where you are. Sending love, Robin.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Robin Post author

      Thank you, Marlo. Your words touch my heart and we will, indeed, look for the magnificence around us. Beautifully said! Hugs.❤️

      Like

      Reply
  2. Davida Chazan

    This is terribly sad news… I have avoided saying anything on my blog, but my husband died in May, after a short illness (not Covid-19) that had some very bad and unexpected complications. We were happily married for 41 years. So… as hard as this will be, I hope you can enjoy the time you have left with him. I didn’t get the chance to just be with my husband, and couldn’t even say a proper goodbye. Be with him as best you can…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Robin Post author

      Oh Davida, I’m so very sorry for your devastating loss. Thank you so much for sharing that painful news with me. I feel so fortunate that we have the luxury of time, however short it may be, and my heart breaks for you to have lost him so quickly. Blessings on his memory and his spirit in you. Sending you much love and huge hugs.❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Diane

    Robin, I am very sorry you and your husband have to go through this terrible ordeal. I lost my mother and a brother to cancer. I’ll be thinking about you and reflecting on your heartfelt post. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Robin Post author

      Thank you so much, Diane. I’m so very sorry for your losses, too. Cancer is truly horrible, and I can’t imagine the pain of losing two family members to it. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for your kind thoughts for us.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Jane

    Thank you for writing this post and please know how sorry I am that your lives have taken this turn. My husband was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2019 and our lives have had to adjust in a way I never thought it would. Cherish is absolutely right, and your grandmother was absolutely right when she wrote today is all of time

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Robin Post author

      Thank you, Jane. Your kind words touch my heart. I’m so sorry you and your husband have had a life changing struggle with leukaemia. Thank you for sharing that with me. Sending you big hugs.

      Like

      Reply
  5. Ti

    I am thinking of, and praying for, you and your husband. This is a devastating diagnosis but I am so glad you chose to share it with us. We can be your support system. I’ve found that the book blogging community always comes together when needed and this is no exception. I pray that his treatments are well-tolerated and that he is comfortable and pain free.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. iliana

    Robin I’m so very sorry to hear this news and I just want to say that you and your husband will be in my thoughts and prayers. Cancer is an awful disease and so sorry your family has to go through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s