“Your dad has cancer” – those were the words Ron said to me one night after one of Michael’s soccer games. Bless his heart – he had been carrying that burden with him all afternoon waiting for a time to tell me. We had come home from the game and then he wanted me to go for a drive with him. Before we got out of the neighborhood he said those 4 words to me. Needless to say we didn’t get out of the neighborhood that night. I had to have him stop the car and let me out. When I am nervous or upset about something I have to pace. So, that’s what I did. He explained to me what Mom had explained to him earlier that day. Apparently from the time of his last surgical procedure (when they discovered and removed the growth behind the voice box) until a recent procedure they saw an unusual spot that had not been there before. They did a biopsy on the spot and it turned out to be cancer. While the last 6 months had been hard and scary there is just nothing scarier then hearing the word CANCER.
In all actuality I had been thinking this would be the ultimate outcome for some time. I was just waiting for someone to say the word. And there it was – laid out right in the car as wide open as it could be – CANCER. When I was in my pacing up and down the sidewalk mode I held my head in my hands and kept repeating the words over and over again “my dad has cancer…my dad has cancer…my dad has cancer”. If you have been hit with that blow to your gut then you know how I felt. I was in shock and wracked with fear. I didn’t cry yet. If you know me then you know that the regular process for me is shock, absorption and THEN the tears hit. Some people may find it odd that I don’t cry right away but this is just the way I’m wired. Ron was my rock – he had been my rock for months and he still is. God blessed me with a husband who can hold me up when I want to fall – who encourages me to keep going when I want to quit and who, eventually, holds me when I cry. I am forever grateful for the gift of Ron.
After it sunk in enough that I could get my head out of my hands and do something other than pace the sidewalk Ron said that Mom and Dad were waiting for us to call. We got back into the car and headed back home to make that call. I always try to be the strong one because my Mom has always been fragile in my mind – although thru this process she has become one of the strongest women I know. I have learned a lot about all the members of my family in the last months. I was afraid to talk to them because I was afraid I wasn’t gonna be able to hold it together. But I took a deep breath and shook my head to Ron to make the call. We were all on speaker phone. Mom explained to me everything the doctor had said. This meant that they would have to remove the entire voice box and replace it with a prosthetic voice box. Eventually he would be able to talk again with the use of a handfree talking device. Considering the trouble Dad had experienced with his voice box for the last 8 years removing it sounded like a relief to me. Of course, our greatest fear was the unknown. Before we hung up Dad told me in his sweet voice that I would treasure in my memories “I’m gonna be ok, Baby”.
We are now two months post surgery. The surgeon got ALL of the cancer that day. The day of the surgery I told dad at home as we were getting ready to leave for the hospital that I knew he didn’t want to do this. He said “but I have to”. I told him that all of the problems he has had over the years stemmed from this problem and that today (surgery day) all of that was going to be gone. Yes, he would have new adjustments to make but a solution is in the works and he would make it.
At this point in time he now has 6 radiation treatments left. Once the healing is complete they will be able to complete the prosthesis procedure and get him talking again. He has been so strong. The Lord has walked next to him the whole way. There were times he probably didn’t feel His presence but He was still there. My Dad is a servant of the Lord. He has always done all he could to spread the Word of Christ. He has wondered along the way what the Lord could possibly have in mind for him to do since he has gone through all of this. We have assured him that God DOES have a plan. I have no doubt that whatever it is my Dad will jump in with both feet. He has seen the love of his friends and family. He has allowed us to hold him up when he couldn’t do it himself. He has seen the power of prayer personally. And my hero will one day see the purpose of this time of his life. And I have no doubt that my hero will make the most of it and that God will get all the glory.