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Not Again

It's been awhile since I provided any sort of update...

but, when the topic revolves around cancer, many times, no news is good news and that has been the case for us. Also, to be quite honest, since the start of the new year we have jumped head first into 'normal' and a whole lot of 'new.' Since my last update Brad went back to work, I have had surgery to get a brand new ACL, we moved from St. Petersburg to Palm Harbor and I started a new job with HCA. It's becoming a theme in our lives that we choose to do a lot of big things at once...

Getting back to the update, not necessarily bad, but this week we had a reminder of a feeling and emotion we will forever have to endure.

As you all know, we are very in-tune (me included) with Brad's body, health and any changes that happen, primarily because any little can change can be a sign of GVHD, or infection, or the other host of things that could be wrong since the transplant. With that said, Tuesday of last week we noticed his neck was a little swollen and somewhat sore, not unbearable, but noticeable. Well, I mentioned that we had started returning to our normal lives, which includes fitness and in the last several weeks Brad has been back in the gym. At the first notice of the swollen neck, we both thought "maybe it's sore from all the workouts lately." (Sound familiar...?) By Wednesday evening, his arm looked larger then normal too... and I know that his big, strong muscles are coming back, but this looked far too familiar - like pre - cancer diagnosis familiar. We immediately contacted his doctor, not only because we needed to know what was going on, but also because we were planning to get on a plane on Friday. Thankfully, they were able to get him in on Thursday for an ultrasound of his neck and arm.

I was sitting in a meeting on Thursday when Brad's text came through, "there are 2 clots, one in the jugular and one in the subclavian." I am sure I turned white because the pit in my stomach was horrific. I honestly could not get out of that meeting fast enough. I went straight to my office and lost it. All I could think was that this couldn't be happening again. We couldn't go through all of that again. I had to catch my breath, pray and stop sobbing before I called Brad.

Go figure, I called him and he had on his superhero cap and calmed ME down. We had no indication that these clots were a sign that cancer was back, so he was doing his very best to not jump to any conclusions, no matter how hard that may have been. Due to all of the treatment, medications and radiation, he will be susceptible to blood clots. It's a known fact, but again, this was the worst case of deja vu we have ever had.

To get to the point, after a CT of nearly his entire body, his clinical team confirmed that there was no sign of any new masses. Praise Jesus. The blood clots were simply a side effect of all that his body has endured and will be something we will forever need to monitor.

That evening while we anxiously waited for the call from the clinic, we sat a little closer. I shed a few tears and we talked about the feelings that surfaced earlier in the day. We both agreed that the feeling we had on Thursday was worse than the day we originally found out about his diagnosis. Why? Because we knew what would be coming if the cancer was back. For the first diagnosis, we went in blind. We had no clue how horrible it would be until we were in it. Now, we know. We know WAY too well and it made this scare feel that much worse.

Something else we realized that day...this is something, a feeling, that we will have to face throughout our entire lives. Although it is a terrible, no good, kind of feeling, it's also very grounding. It reminds me how thankful I am for Brad's life. It reminds us how fragile and fleeting this world is. We are blessed to be able to slide back into a 'normal' life and it reminds me that, together, we have overcome so much to get to where we are today. Most importantly, it reminds us that we are nothing and have nothing without the grace of our Lord and Savior, our ever present help in times of anxiety and fear.

With all that said, I am thankful that this update is not bad news and pray that we continue down the no news is good news path.

All our best,

Natalie and Brad


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