Cancer Tried to Take my Husband

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Sometimes things happen in my life, and I look back and think, “Did that really happen? Did I imagine that?” Most of the events of 2018 live in that sort of hazy, yet fully realized part of my memories. It started with me waking up from five years of depression that nearly killed me and ended with the most fun New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had. It felt like someone was in my body, going through the motions, crying when necessary, laughing like I hadn’t in a long time, and the events of April, May and June especially will forever be etched in my memory. While this isn’t my personal health story, it affected the person I love most on the planet. This is my side of the story. 

In April 2018, my person, my rock, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. My husband and I have been married for 17 years this year and together for nearly 20. We met in graduate school and have been together ever since. We’ve had the best of times and the worst of times. We have lost babies, jobs, and money, but there has not been anything we’d been through to this magnitude. It changed us forever, but in the best way. He was experiencing some strange symptoms, so he made an appointment with a random urologist. It turned out that the urologist is the “doctor’s doctor” here in Memphis. We believe God placed us with just the right doctor.

The doctor was pretty confident that this wasn’t going to be the “dangerous” kind. Jeremy would have to have surgery, and probably chemo, but he’d make a full recovery. Surgery happened right before BBQ Fest last year, and I remember dancing our fannies off and having the best time. We were waiting for the results, but smiling and laughing like we had no cares in the world. Something about a cancer diagnosis changes the way you approach life; little things don’t seem so important anymore. Being together as much as we could began to be our main priority. 

I didn’t go to the appointment where we would find out what kind of cancer we were dealing with, because the doctor had been so sure it wasn’t anything. Jeremy called me and said, “I need you to come.” Together we sat while the doctor very solemnly told us Jeremy had more cancer in his retroperitoneum. He’d need a MAJOR surgery where they would basically gut him like a deer to get to the cancer. Gut punch. Hearing words like, “intestinal shut-down” and “weeks in the hospital” and “radiation” began crushing our spirits. We were so sure we’d be hearing very different statements. I kept telling him to not worry, that we’d get through this, all the while feeling like I would crumble under the weight. We went to Italian Fest the weekend before his surgery, scheduled for June 5th, and danced and laughed and had a great time. He turned a cartwheel on the dance floor…that man never ceases to amaze me. 

Surgery day came and I left my person, my rock, my husband again in the capable hands of the nursing staff. This time the surgery was much more intensive and dangerous. As with any surgery, there was risk of him not coming out of that operating room alive. I waited for what seemed like days, but I think it was 8 hours. My dad, bestie, and dear family friends brought snacks, chocolate, and themselves. I will never forget the kindness they showed me that day. They saw the worry on my face and supported me in a way that only those who love you can. Finally the doctor came out. Honestly, the look on his face wasn’t very reassuring that everything had gone well, so I said, “Just tell me…is he dead?”.That sweet doctor looked at me with the strangest expression, almost like he was going to laugh but also like, “Seriously?” and said, “No, he’s not.” The relief. The sheer relief. The doctor said he’d never seen such healthy insides before besides, you know, the cancer. 

Taking his laps around the ICU.

 

Sitting up, eating like a champ…he wore that hat all week…such a cutie!

There were no rooms available in the hospital tower, so we spent four days in the Cardiac ICU, and it turned out to be the best blessing. My husband received phenomenal care and recovered quite quickly. The staff couldn’t believe that he wasn’t in more pain than he was, but we knew it was because we had an army praying for him. Those days in the ICU were quiet and sweet. I cared for my husband in ways I had not needed to in the past. In some ways it felt like I was finally able to repay him for all the care he’s shown me over the years. Jeremy never complained. Not once. I still marvel at the fact that he had been cut from top to bottom, yet he never had a negative thing to say. He’d walk his laps with his pole and machines, greeting and joking with anyone he could in the hallway. He was precious and obviously a favorite on the floor. We were able to go home on Friday. That’s right. No intestinal shut-down, no problems. Prayers of thankfulness. Now we just had to wait for the biopsy results and to establish care at West Clinic. 

The day we went for the results was nerve-racking. Finally we heard the, “He’s clear.” The relief. I think I took a breath for the first time in a month. After the staples came out (I nearly fainted watching that, btw), he was released by his urologist and moved to West Clinic. The oncologist didn’t recommend treatment because the benefit didn’t outweigh the side-effects. A schedule for blood work, scans, and visits was made, and we were on our way.

cancer free
Right after we got the news: “No more cancer!”

The fact that everyone’s cancer story doesn’t end well is not lost on me. I will never take for granted the fact that my husband is a survivor. He chose to run the St. Jude Marathon just 6 months after receiving the “all clear,” and I couldn’t have been more proud or grateful. Cancer is now a thing we can add to our “been there, done that, survived it” list. While sometimes it seems surreal to me that we dealt with cancer last year, we were forever changed by it and will forever be grateful that Jeremy’s story ended well. But it’s not really over yet, is it? 

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Theryssa was born and raised in Collierville, TN, but is now a bona fide East Memphis resident, original hardwood and all. After graduating from The University of Memphis way back in the nineteen hundreds, she journeyed to Fort Worth, Texas for graduate school and snagged herself a Texas boy. Two kids (Samuel and Kate) and 15 years later, they all moved to Memphis. When she’s not homeschooling kids, running shuttles to basketball practice, and making dinners no one will eat, she can be found playing the oldies on her ukulele, fostering dogs, and picking up “junk” off the curb.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is just what I needed to read. I am going through a similar situation, but my husband has esophageal cancer. We’ve just finished 4 rounds of chemo and will get a pet scan this Tuesday. It’s important for this to show partial to complete response so he can become a surgical candidate. I pray for this day and night. It’s just a complete nightmare and he’s my everything. Thanks for giving hope. It’s an important story to share.

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