Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Parenthood and Cancer

Don’t worry, it’s the good kind.

Being told this makes my head want to explode. After the radiologist’s verbal throw-up, breaking the C word, we quickly had another visit with the ENT where he also confirmed I had cancer and he went on to explain:

But it’s the good kind- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s considered curable in almost all cases.

Don’t get me wrong this was a huge relief,  I had already researched the various types of lymphoma and knew this was the best news we could ask for. Having this type of cancer gave me the best chance of getting what I prayed for- a chance to watch my babies grow up.

But somehow being told cancer is “good” when you know that you will have poison injected into your body to kill the cancer, and know that it’s likely you’ll have radiation that will burn your skin and can damage your organs, is incomprehensible. Both treatments may lead to  future cancers or additional long-term complications. If you ask me,  “it’s the good kind” is a load of crap.

This phrase should have been stitched on a pillow over the next week. We broke the news to family and friends and used it shamelessly to reassure them.

At same time, when someone familiar with this type of cancer says it to me, it raises my hackles.  I know my odds of survival are phenomenal, but I feel like this phrase trivializes the fight that is ahead. It’s survivable only because they know exactly what treatment it responds to, you still have to do chemo and radiation. You don’t get to push the easy button.

The survival rate lets me know that my fight should be worth it and I plan on clinging to that in my darkest hours. I appreciate that I know going in my fight will be worth it, and I love having less uncertainty.  But I don’t doubt for a minute that there will be a very real battle with some pretty shitty days.

It may be the good kind, but that doesn’t make it easy. It’s still cancer.

 

 

 

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C.A.N.C.E.R

“You have cancer”.

Because we knew things were getting serious, my husband had accompanied me to the CT and biopsy.  I never expected a radiologist to utter those words.  Typically, a radiologist doesn’t tell you ANYTHING. They dictate a report and your doctor calls you with the result.  The ultrasound tech looked at us with shock after he uttered those three words and walked out the door.

“Did you have any idea? Are you okay”

I can’t speak for my husband, but after all my years of infertility treatment I know how to work Dr. Google to my advantage and had poured over the literature and knew the small list of what this neck growth could be.  Cancer was a surprise, but not totally unexpected.  Being told without a biopsy to support it WAS a surprise and a concerning one.

The radiologist came back into the room and was apologetic.  He must have realized the news was new to us, and he explained that my tumor on the CT extended from my neck to below my heart. It was a very large tumor, and in his experience, he thought the results of the biopsy would show that I had  Lymphoma.

More was said, but my husband and I just held each others hands. All I could think about was that I needed to be here to see my babies grow up.  They are just babies! They can’t grow up without their mama! How is my husband going to handle three kids under three all by himself?

 

 

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Resolute

“I just want you to know, I’m not going to change my mind about giving you this baby.”

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, I’m sure that it’s apparent what my biggest fear is. I’m so afraid of losing another child. We’re not unusual–hell, in the infertility world, we’re not even a particularly sad story. I know women who have had four, or five, or even six miscarriages.

I can only admire the strength it takes to try again when that much pain has gone before. Tim and I had discussed this at length and losing a fourth child was our limit. We would not have attempted another pregnancy in my body. Amazingly, my girls held in there, my body held out long enough and they are here with us today. And even though they both have ear infections, one is getting a set of molars in as we speak and my evenings and nights this week are filled with crying, fussiness and very little sleep, I wouldn’t miss a single solitary minute of it.

“I just want you to know, I’m not going to change my mind about giving you this baby.”

When our birth mother made this statement, I could hear the conviction. She was addressing my biggest fear head-on. And I believe her. We both believe her. I’ve focused so much on my journey, our journey, in the blog, because her story is simply not mine to tell. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been on a journey of her own; that she hasn’t thought this adoption through.

Sometimes, I think that maybe she is light years ahead of me in this process. She knew about this pregnancy long before we did and had those extra months as she contemplated her options and decided on adoption.

We’re playing catch-up. We entered with far more exuberance and hope than knowledge when we dived into the adoption. And we’ve stumbled our ways ever since. I finally feel like we have the right team surrounding us to help us navigate the waters of this adoption. The new counselor is stepping in to help with the entrustment ceremony. She’s also offered to help us finalize a plan for contact between our families going forward. I welcome an experienced person to this process. I’m not sure how it all should work.

This is where I believe a private adoption is definitely harder than an agency adoption. The middleman is lacking in a private adoption, and you either have to hire one or figure it out on your own. You have to ask the right questions in order to find the answers. And if you fail to ask, you may stumble into a quagmire.

To me, an agency adoption appears to have this central lynch pin. For us, this help comes from so many directions. Our home study agency suggested the classes, and has provided direction on key steps in the process. This is really going above and beyond what we’ve contracted with them. The new counselor has done the same.

“I just want you to know, I’m not going to change my mind about giving you this baby.”

In the end, whether we stumble inelegantly or move with the grace of a gazelle through this process, nothing else matters but the end result. Every minute of worry, every bit of effort we’ve put into this process will be worth it when we hold our son in our arms.

Want to help support our adoption? 
Visit our youcaring page and make a donation. Until March 1, each $20 donation will get you entered to win a 3 night stay at the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. View here for more information.

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