Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The C word

The dreaded C-word, cancer, has come to our house.

And it came with no warning. No symptoms, no complaints, no suspicions. And completely uninvited, not to mention unwelcome.

My husband went to our local pharmacy to renew some scripts and was told he needed to see the doctor before one of them could be refilled. This was fairly routine and a good medical practice. He dutifully made his appointment and went in to the clinic for the required checkup.

While there, the doctor did some blood work, another good medical practice. Prescription refilled, all was well. So we thought.

Except the blood work revealed a very high creatinine, whatever that is, level and some other abnormalities. Our doctor said my husband was in kidney failure and needed to see a nephrologist, which we never knew existed nor did we know what it was, and an appointment was already scheduled for us that same week.

The nephrologist, which we now know is a kidney specialist, sent us to a urologist. Okay, we knew what that was. After an exam and a cystoscopy, which I insisted on watching, a mass was seen on top of the bladder. I saw it with my own non-medical eyes.

From there, we went to the University of Minnesota to yet another doctor, this time a specialist in urology surgery. It was the first time the C-word was mentioned as he said matter-of-factly that most of the time, these masses are cancerous. Surgery was scheduled to remove the mass but first a nephrostomy tube (another new concept) was inserted through his back into the kidney for drainage and to minimize further kidney damage which was already compromised.

Following surgery, tissue from the mass was sent for a pathology review, which we knew was normal and expected procedure. What wasn't expected was the results, showing it was a stage T-2, invasive cancer of the bladder, in medical-speak.

Thus the C-word came into our house, invading not only my husband's bladder but our sense of security and overall well-being; also disrupting our normal, hum-drum, bordering on boring, daily routine.

Many, if not most, of you have been touched by this dreaded word and dreadful disease. Up to now, we have been fortunate so for us this awakens new feelings and issues, and causes a slightly sinking feeling in our hearts.

However, since this diagnosis and the recommendation that my husband have his bladder removed and a stoma or pouch surgically placed for urine collection, we have heard countless stories of successful outcomes about people who have gone through this themselves, or their brother-in-law, niece,  other relative or friend had experienced the same thing. All resuming normal lives and activities.

We are grateful for the sharing of these stories and hope to add to them my husband's success as well.

We have a lot of hope; yet we know there are some for whom hope is not offered. We will now know the gripping feeling of just hearing the C-word spoken and will pray for all those on their own journey with cancer, or sharing the journey with a loved one. God bless and give you all strength.