It’s been months since we first received the news that my husband had cancer. Up until now it was just too hard to relive those initial days but for the benefit of those who don’t know how it happened – here is our story.
It was Wednesday, June 25, 2014 when I took my husband to Emergency. He’d been complaining of a sore back since the May long weekend. He’d dug up my garden that weekend, using the good old fashioned shovel instead of borrowing his buddy’s rototiller. He thought at the time that he may have pulled a muscle and by the beginning of June he had visited the family doctor who prescribed rest as the answer. Through this time he continued to ride his bicycle to work, play tennis with his buddies and do all the normal things one does. However, on the evening of the 25th of June he was in significant pain, not only with his back, but he had started to experience a pain in his chest. Although he didn’t want to go to Emergency, he knew something was wrong and allowed me to take him over.
Due to the fact that he was experiencing some pain in his chest we were processed through quite quickly. They did some blood work and hooked him up to an ECG to monitor him. After a couple of hours the ECG was removed and his numbers appeared to be okay. The Emergency Room doctor was not satisfied with any of the results that had come back, he felt that there was definitely something at play here and asked my husband to stay overnight so he could arrange for a CT scan for first thing in the morning. That settled, I left for the evening advising my husband that I would go to work in the morning and then swing by to pick him up around noon – if he needed me sooner to call me at work.
When I arrived at Emergency at noon on Thursday the Triage Nurse took me right back to my husband and asked me to wait for the doctor. A little odd, but okay. I asked my husband if he knew what was up and he stated he had no idea. The doctor came in, this was a different doctor from the one who had admitted and dealt with my husband the night before. He started off by telling us he had some difficult news for us. He had the results of the CT scan and it showed that my husband’s pain in his back was attributed to his T10 and T11 which were deteriorating as a result of bone cancer. There was also a lesion at T6, as well as some deterioration to his sternum. After he told us this, the doctor paused. In that brief lapse of time I remember my husband just looking at me. We were shocked beyond words. Finally he said to the doctor, “Well I didn’t see that coming.” A brief and flat statement. However, that was not the end of the doctor patient conversation.
The doctor stated that unfortunately the CT scan also showed widespread lung cancer, both lungs. The main tumour appeared to be located adjacent to my husband’s heart. He stated that his observations were very preliminary that we needed to speak to our family doctor as well as an Oncologist. The doctor stated that it appeared to be at least Stage 3 cancer. Although the ER physician chatted through a few other things at this time we were no longer listening. We were together but apart, both of us lost in our own thoughts. When we left the hospital we went home and sat outside on the deck. There were a few people to call, but first we had to do some strategizing. We needed to figure out how much we could share with our family and friends. We needed to see our family doctor to talk this thing through. We needed to find out how cancer could get to stage 3 (although it turned out to be stage 4) without any real indicators. We needed to find out what happens next.
This was our world from June 25 – 27, 2014. Everything turned upside down and we weren’t ready for it.