Our Story

About a year and a half ago, my husband was treated for an early stage prostate cancer. (he had a prostatectomy because he is BRCA2 +). We were told he was ‘cancer free’ so we celebrated!

Three weeks later, after a persistent cough wouldn’t go away, he was treated for what they thought was pneumonia. He was exhausted, had lost weight and was very short of breath. He wasn’t getting better, in fact his symptoms worsened. No one gave us answers. He ended up going every 3-4 days for a thoracentesis, where every time, they would drain 1-2 liters off. Finally, I refused to leave without knowing what was going on. After draining another liter from his chest – we went down to the hospitals er to get an answer.

It wasn’t long before a young medical student came in and very nonchalantly blurted out the words that shook us to the core … ‘well, you didn’t know it’s lung cancer? And you know it’s stage 4 because it’s in the fluid’ We were both in shock, and I was furious at this young uneducated med student’s delivery of this news. It was only a year and a half since my husbands brother died from a rare liver cancer, and less than a year that my dad died / ureter cancer. We walked beside my mom 10 years ago as she fought vigilantly with lung cancer. She passed in our home, with the loving help of hospice. My husband’s father is fighting metastatic prostate cancer. We had enough cancer…

So began our journey of the fight for Brian’s life. I remember walking through the hospital corridor- almost floating , like an out of body experience… this couldn’t be happening to us. As a nurse, I knew the uphill fight we were facing. But we were ready. Ready to give it our all. We had always been Christians, but very early in the process, we found a big deepening of our faith with a newfound dependency on God… not bad things.

About a week after ‘the diagnosis‘ we were blessed with the birth our first grandson. We were living the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. Brian had a pleurx catheter placed, and I was draining a liter of fluid, EVERY DAY. Friends from our church came and prayed over Brian. That very next day, I called Roswell Cancer center in a panic – I couldn’t get any fluid from the chest tube. The days before I drained a liter – every day. They got us in on an emergency visit, believing the catheter was plugged – or dislodged. His effusion was gone! I shouldn’t have been surprised- so thankful for answered prayer. They made us keep the pleurx in for a month… just to be sure. That was a year and a half ago and he is still effusion free!

My husband started treatment with chemo every 3 weeks- he would loose a few days to fatigue and weakness right after treatments but then bounced back. Eventually that quit working – he had brain mets treated with gamma knife (amazing technology- my husband would rather have gamma knife than go to the dentist…maybe we should find a new dentist!!!) and switched to a trial of immunotherapy. We were thankful for options, but unfortunately that didn’t work. So, after a second gamma knife procedure for more brain mets, he is back on a different chemo. After a week post this first regimen of chemo- all of his symptoms are gone. No cough. No shortness of breath… he recently went body surfing in the ocean, and stand up paddle boarding, walked 2 miles on the beach without even a rest. He did experience a significant reaction to the second cycle of chemo – which will mean a new treatment/ we find out soon what that will be.

We have truly lived more and loved deeper in this past year and a half since my husband’s diagnosis than some people get to in a lifetime. Like so many others dealing with cancer, we know the value of our days and are so grateful for every single one of them. A pastor once said that life is like a piggy bank. When we are born, God deposits a set number of pennies in our piggy bank. We can’t see inside the bank, so we have no idea how many are in there. Each day we wake up, a penny is removed from our bank to spend. You can’t return it or exchange it- it may be your last one. So.. spend your pennies wisely. We try not to look ahead, we don’t know how long his symptoms will be so well controlled, but for today, life is good.

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