Friday, 25 March 2011

This week started relatively quietly, and I have to say I was pretty thankful. I had an ultrasound appointment on monday, and I was nervous about it. The baby needed a double check to make sure everything was o.k., and naturally I was concerned about the amount of stress we have been under, as well as the emotional distress. Though I haven't received the final report, it seems Baby Boy Stem is fine and relatively oblivious the turmoil around him. He seems to have a pretty chilled personality and the same soccer kick both his brothers were famous for.

Tuesday was the day Kev and I were both dreading. Chemo day. The unknown of it all had him paralyzed with fear and me edgy and emotional. Not the best combo, especially before sunrise. Kev's mom came down to take him to Sunnybrook so that I was able to take Quin and Cian to school. As I hugged him goodbye, I promised to be there before they started the actual chemo, I promised he wouldn't go through it without me. I just really wanted to keep that promise, I was counting on the tests that would come first and the slow motion hospitals seem to work in on a regular basis to buy me time to get there.

I arrived two minutes before they called his name. The idea of good karma was on my mind as we walked down to his room. He had a bed there, and a little chair for me. He laid down and the nurse came over to access the port in his chest. While holding my hand, they started the chemo. We were there for five and a half hours, the drip going into his chest slow and steady. Near the end of it, Kev was feeling better, brighter. It hadn't been as bad as he, or I for that matter, had imagined. They hooked up yet another bag, telling us it was the chemo he would bring home. Thursday the nurse would come to unhook him. Three days.

The next few days were spent managing all the meds and side effect preventing methods given to us. I have to say he came through it like a champ. No obvious side effects to contend with right now, no nausea. It was a great outcome, he was tolerating the chemo pretty well. That in turn lifeted his spirits, made things easier to take, made the fight more plausible. Kay, his nurse came in on thursday afternoon to unhook him, remarking how much brighter he looked. Hopefully it is the sign of things to come.

I am feeling more hopeful these days. I know the road is long, but on the flip side I'm glad it won't be short. Round one down, seven to go. The thoughts and prayers coming our way are serving us well and one day I hope to say that they accomplished their goal...that we accomplished our goal.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

It's been a long week, but I guess I shouldn't start out that way as the weeks are all seeming long these days. Kev was feeling better after the rods and stitches came out on monday and he seemed to be gaining strength which is what I wanted and needed to see. We decided that the tickets we had for Disney's Toy Story on ice were going to get used after all, and that we'd be able to go as a family. It was really nice to do something "normal", though even normal was different. There I was walking in front with my portruding pregnant belly making sure nobody bumped into Kev. It worked, but bothered Kev...he wanted to walk in front of me to make sure I wasn't hit by the throngs of people. The show itself was great, the kids totally emmersed in the story and the characters, eyes wide, faces smiling. As it is becoming my norm, a tear slipped down my cheek watching my family doing something that wouldn't have garnered a second thought just a few short weeks ago. It became a very special outing.

After getting out for a few short hours on thursday and being overwhelmed by the love and support my friends showered me with when I entered the pub for the first time in a month, my alarm early friday morning was not a welcomed sound. Port day. We had to be at Sunnybrook by 9:30 so that they could surgically implant a port into the veins in Kev's chest to make it easier to administer the chemo. It was to take an hour and a half they told me, so I went walking, not able to sit and wait. Waiting is still not my strong suit.

Again I felt myself being drawn to Wellspring, determined to find answers, bolstered by the bright sunlight. I walked in feeling strong and asked for information about talking to kids about cancer. I found myself amazed to hear my unwavering voice say the words aloud. Then came the pamphlets, the questions, the more detailed explanations. It was over, my determination, my unwavering voice, my strength. I was gently ushered from the entrance to a more private place. I sat in the Ribbons of Hope peer support room pouring my heart out, opening up my soul, saying aloud all my fears. I cried too, seemingly endless tears fearing they would never stop. But they did. It was then that Icould finally take in the information given to me, the offer of support, the help I was so desperately seeking. Again I left there feeling better, lighter, slightly more able to cope. It was time to get Kev and go home.

I wished they had told us, or warned us that the port would be so painful. It was all fine and good when the anesthetic was still there, but once that wore off the pain was glaringly obvious. Kev is so thin that the pocket needed for the port was created by stretching already thin skin thinner. I have had to resign myself to the fact that this process is going to be a continuous variation of one step forward two steps back. I just hope and pray that the steps forward one day out number the steps back. It's friday the 18th of March, my birthday. I have only one wish but fear saying it aloud in case it won't come true. I really need it to come true.

Tuesday is chemo day. We both fear it, the unknown of it all, but the need to move forward in the treatment plan, to see results is strong. In in my weakest moments the glimmer of hope is still there, that we will be able to beat down this beast and regain our life. Forever changed however is our appreciation for life. Perhaps that is one of the good things that will come from this.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Things seem to happen on mondays. We had to go to the hospital for chemo class. It is a class set up for impending chemo patients, to learn about what to expect, timelines, side effects etc. I guess it's better than going in blind but we sat in that auditorium alittle dumbfounded that we were in fact there. Very surreal.

Kev's mom was with us too, so after chemo class, we went to the follow up with Dr. Tan and Dr. Ko, his medical oncologist. Dr Ko explained the chemo regiment to will be folfox every two weeks for three days. This will be an eight week course, then they will re-evaluate, do new scans, see how it is working. A port will be put in on friday to administer the chemo. It is surgically implanted in the chest just under the skin to avoid being pricked each time Kev has chemo. He will have the port until chemo is no longer necessary. The chemo itself starts very early monday morning. We are daunted and very scared.

Kev's mom was kind enough to take him home while I went to visit my dad (another story) and then, as I was parked near, I decided to go to Wellspring. It was strange to be there looking for information instead of being there for cheque presentations after our fundraising golf tournaments. Ribbons of Hope has been raising money for Wellspring Sunnybrook for the past five years and now I was there looking for their special brand of support. It was after hours but the volunteer let me in. I again started to sob thinking of how I was going to tell our children Quin and Cian that daddy was seriously ill...I didn't know where to start and clearly can't say the words aloud without breaking down. The volunteer sat there quietly, letting my tears come in torrents down my face, not saying a word, but holding my hand. I stood up after awhile, still crying, and asked to see the Ribbons of Hope peer support room. She led me to the room and as I looked in, I felt calmer, more able to handle what is to come. It was as if our dear friend Connie, who had just succumbed to this horrible disease was there in the room she helped build, as if she was there to comfort me and tell me it will be alright. I left Wellspring with Connie's strength and courage on my mind. I hope I can make her proud.
The tuesday after that initial monday meeting started with a bang. We had been in the emergency department at Sunnybrook all night. They wanted to do surgery on Kev as soon as possible to prevent the impending colon blockage from occurring. We had gone home only to return at 10pm that monday evening, and by 3:45 am they had done their own tests and scans in order to proceed that morning. I kissed Kev on the forehead and told him I would see him in a couple of hours and headed home. I needed the time in the car to let out some of the emotions that I had been holding in in order to be strong for him and the kids. I sobbed all the way home.

I was back at the hospital the next morning just in time to hear his name called for surgery. His surgeon Dr. Tan was with him as I entered his room, explaining exactly what he was going to do and why. He was patient and kind and answered all of the questions he could, making us both feel more confident. It was to be a tumor bypass, hopefully done laproscopically to minimize any recovery time. They wanted him to start chemo right away, and a full surgery to do the tumor resection of his colon would need too long a recovery time. The chemo just couldn't wait, though they didn't want him to have a blockage during chemo either. This surgery was the compromise.

I walked down with kev being wheeled beside me towards the operating room area. Both of us were silent, pensive. When we got to the place where I could no longer go with him, I leaned over to give him a kiss, willing all the positive thoughts and prayers from friends and family that had been pouring in to wrap around his heart and keep him safe. Then, I waited.

It was the longest three hours of my life, though I did not have to pass the time alone. Kev's mom was with me as well as my friend Deanna who coincidentally works at the hospital. It was still a long wait. Dr. Tan was kind enought to come find me in the dining area when the surgery was over. He was relieved that it had been done as the blockage was already occurring. It was also a successful bypass, the tumor not invading other organs as feared, just the liver to contend with. The fever he had post op. went down and it was time to go into recovery mode.

Only two days in the hospital after surgery and Kev was itching to get home. He couldn't sleep there and the food was not helping matters either. They agreed to let him come home as long as a home care nurse was in order.

For the second time in two weeks we packed his things and walked hand in hand out of the hospital.
So we went to Sunnybrook. We both needed a second opinion...couldn't stand the first one nor could we accept it. It was different there. They were very supportive and had a team approach where we saw a liver surgical oncologist, a colon surgical oncologist and a medical oncologist all at the same time. I was happy not to have to wait for more appointments to occur. We just didn't have the time.

They looked me in the eye and told me that they would not give up...that Kev was an otherwise healthy 39yr old with a young family and that they would do whatever necessary to help him. For the first time in two weeks I felt my breathing go to heartbeat slowing and the panic that had settled in my throat start to subside. It was a monday.
Kev was miserable in the hospital. He was scared and despite me being there almost all of his waking hours, he missed his boys, he missed his life.

The colonoscopy showed a large tumor in the sigmoid colon that was near obstruction. The metastises in his liver were extensive. We still had hope. Take the tumor out of the colon and resect the liver. I told him he was lucky that it was a regenerating organ that had this, that we'd be able to beat this.....

Little did I know, another ball was about to drop.......

Too much disease in the liver they said, no surgical options, chemo would be palliative.

I sat there looking at this surgeon, again the sounds of my world crashing down so loud all I wanted to do was run. I didn't. I sat there holding my belly praying the little ears of our unborn child couldn't hear what was being said about daddy, tears streaming down my face. It was then that I got angry. How dare they tell me there is no hope.. how dare they imply I will be a widow in two dare they tell him he probably would not be here for the birth of our child.

I screamed.....I screamed profanities...then I grew quiet. Kev and I walked to his room, gathered his things and walked hand in hand out of the hospital.
It all started a few weeks ago. My husband Kevin started complaining about sore ribs. He thought he had fractured one at some point playing with our three year old and our six year old boys. It was the middle of the night on a sunday when I made the call to my brother asking him to accompany Kevin to the emergency department to have it looked at...the kids were sound asleep and I, being four and a half months pregnant with our third child, was too tired to go with him.

When I woke at seven a.m. the next morning, they were still at the hospital. They wanted Kev to have an abdominal ultrasound. I called my mom to be there for the kids and got myself to the hospital. Finally by ten a.m. he had the test done. It showed dark spots on his liver. That meant more tests..a CT scan to see what was going on more clearly. We were both exhausted but at this point still thinking it had something to do with the wheat and gluten allergy he had been suffering with or the bouts of IBS he had had sporadically over the last fifteen years.

We were still making jokes about the movie Naked Gun and organ donor cards.

The CT scan results were given to us separate from the waiting chairs we had spent most of the day in, separate from the people we had been talking to to pass the time. We were taken to a private area. I remember hearing the words cancer, colon, liver mets and biopsy but my head was spinning and my world was crashing down on me so loudly that I couldn't quite make out the other words being said.

By the time the dust cleared, Kev had been admitted to the hospital for a colonoscopy and biopsy and I was sent home to gather his things......