The weather seemed unseasonably warm on that fateful day in April as we traveled along interstate 90. I tried to make idle chit-chat with my wife about anything except why we were on the road but she wasn’t really in the mood to talk, she just gazed out the window at the passing scenery, her mind seemed elsewhere. We sat in silence during the forty minutes it took us to get to our destination, the newly built medical center that our doctor practices out of. The lump I had discovered weighing heavily on my mind and the research I had done only fed the flames of unease by pointing to two things, a bad bruise with isolated swelling or cancer. The cheerleader in my mind shook her pom-poms and shouted, “GO BRUISE!” The doctor verifies the two possible outcomes for us, worried, I ask “What next?”
Blood tests, ultrasounds and six days later I’m told that I have a “mass” and need to see a specialist. The new doctor tells us that the mass may or may not be malignant and the only way to find out is to remove it for biopsy. After scheduling the surgery we left with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Sitting in the car my wife looks at me with tears in her eyes and says, “Our first anniversary is next month and now I’m told that I might lose you.” I hold her hand, smile and say, “No matter what the biopsy shows we’ll get through it, I’m not done being a pain in your butt yet.” Ten days after the surgery I found out I had cancer. I saw more doctors, months of chemotherapy, numerous blood tests and scans, more doctors, major surgery, and months of recovery later I am cancer free.
Those two years were the hardest I ever hope to experience, but through all the bad, the good had always shown through. The stress put a great strain on my marriage but made it stronger. My family, which never had a habit of saying “I love you”, started saying it, and not to just me, but each other. The chemotherapy left me with advanced arthritis but left my dreams and spirit intact. After facing my mortality and the end of my career I was able to look to the future with a positive attitude. Enduring the nausea, pain and the looks of worry from the ones I love gave me the strength to follow my dreams. I had always dreamed of earning a degree that will allow me to help others work through the darkest days of their lives. To teach them that the shadows of our lives only work to enhance the brightness of our days on this Earth, and this I believe.
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