Happy Father’s Day / Grandpa’s Day to our hero.

All our children and grandchildren were here for dinner. Tony made a delicious pork loin. After we raved about how good it was, he puréed some so he could have a taste. (It looked awful, but he said it tasted good.)

A lot of the swelling in his neck has gone down so it looks like he has suddenly lost a lot of weight. His neck is still very firm. While he was massaging it, he found a spot that made it easier to swallow when he pressed on it. He is hopeful that as his mouth and throat continue to heal that swallowing will become easier. One of the sutures in his mouth came out today as he was doing his oral hygiene and he noticed that others were missing.

His left leg started giving us some concern on Thursday. He was up late Wednesday night helping Johanna with a project that required a lot of up-and-down and kneeling. He may have pushed it a little too hard. He wrapped his leg tightly on Thursday and may have gotten it too tight… followed by leaving it unwrapped for too long to rest. He spent most of Saturday taking it easy and elevating his leg.

There have been some emotional moments when we stop moving long enough for the realness to sink in. At first I described it to others as an out-of-body experience or like starring in a movie, because this couldn’t possibly be happening to us in real life. Now it feels (to me) like more of a nightmare that we will never wake up from. It takes a lot of effort to keep the feelings of discouragement in check by staying in action mode (which is exhausting.)

Head and neck cancer is at the top of the cancer-related stressors and emotional distress category. I think Tony is handling it beautifully. Me, not as much.

One thing that has helped me keep things in perspective…

Right after Tony was diagnosed with tongue cancer and Dr. Monroe explained what Tony was going to have to go through, he sent us down to Radiology for Tony to get a chest CT scan.

I was all alone in a large waiting area. Presently, a woman came in and sat at the other end of the room. She was on her cell phone and I couldn’t help but overhear her end of the conversation. It quickly became clear that her husband had been having health challenges for quite a while and whatever had brought them to the hospital that day had become routine.

When the call ended, the lady smiled and asked if it was my first time there. (I must have looked like a deer in headlights. Ha ha) I told her that what we were dealing with this time was new, but it was our third rodeo. I briefly explained that Tony was already a Lymphoma and a Leukemia survivor and that until today, we thought we were done with cancer. She nodded with a look of understanding.

Tony had returned from his scan as I asked if she was wiling to share with us her husband’s story.

Her husband had just reached retirement. It had been about six months and they were still figuring out what ‘retirement’ was going to look like for them. Her husband went out into the garage to pull out one of the ATV’s. The throttle stuck alongside his thigh and flipped him over backward, breaking his neck. He was given 6 months to live. She said he can shrug his shoulders slightly, move his wheelchair with a lever at his forehead, and operate a computer. He speaks through a voice box attached to a trach tube. His accident was 10 years ago.

In my darkest moments of feeling sorry for myself, I remember that courageous woman – a stranger that was a gift from God to me. I know it was not a coincidence that she was there that day at that hour with a message I needed to hear.