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Cancer's Shoes

On the last post I left you all with a cliff hanger: You knew he had the blood test to know how much of his blood is his own vs. how much is the donor and you knew he was having his first PET scan post transplant. Sorry about that cliff... we are trying to get back to living as normally as possible and "normal" for me does not mean I am a 'blogger.' However, I vow to improve and provide more frequent updates, especially the important ones!

This one is important.

His PET scan results were good. All is clear! There are no traces of cancer in the tumor and it has shrunk once again as a result of the high intensity chemotherapy he received right before his transplant. At this point, the tumor is calcified and has a chance of staying with him for the long haul which is okay when it is cancer-free.

Next, we learned that the cells in Brad's blood are officially 99% from the donor! All signs are pointing towards success and this news couldn't have been better. His body is accepting these foreign cells and we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This is all such good news, but I do have to say, we have had to force ourselves to celebrate. Brad especially. I know everyone will tell us, as we remind ourselves, to celebrate the small wins and we definitely do, but until you walk in "cancer's shoes" do you understand the challenges associated with that. Small wins are good. No, in fact, they're great...until the anxiety of the next scan, or blood draw, night sweat, stomach ache, fever, or whatever else gets thrown at us knocks us back to our journey. Don't get me wrong, we celebrate! We hug each other tight, we eat a really good meal or (when possible) cheers to all that has been overcome, but we can't drift to far from our "new normal" or else that 'new normal' becomes excruciating when we do come back down from our victory, even more challenging than it already is at times.

It's a fact, our lives will never be "normal." Brad's life will never be as it once was and that is okay. We will forever have anxiety before the next scan, have regular blood draws, annual visits to see his oncologist and so on. But, we know this experience is far more than a crappy diagnosis. Our "normal" will look different. Not bad, just different. We acknowledge the foundation it has laid for our marriage, the outlook it has given us for the rest of our lives, the way we love others, what we value and I am certain a laundry list of other lessons yet to be learned. We will always rejoice our 'mountains', but we will also maintain a grounded-ness to our perspective so if valleys do come, they aren't so low.

I say this to share an honest perspective from "cancer's shoes." From our perspective. Really, it's hard to articulate until you're wearing those "shoes" because I would assume that not ever "fit" is the same. By no means do we negate the opportunity for our army of support to sing praises, pop confetti, sip bubbly or whatever else you do to celebrate the good news on our behalf, but instead hopefully this helps you understand why our celebrations are a little more subtle. Slightly reserved.

What's next: We are over half way to the +90 day mark. What happens at 90 days? He can be alone. He is past the 'high - risk' time period. He will begin to get all his vaccines again. We inch that much closer to the end and getting back to living out our newlywed plans!

Prayer requests: that he keeps on doing great. That he continues to feel good. He gets frequent stomach aches right now so please pray that those continue to become less and less frequent. Pray that his endurance continues to improve on our daily walks. Strength continues to return and sickness stays far, far away.

As always, we love you all. We thank you for always celebrating with and for us!

Natalie and Brad

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