Whenever Cancer invades a family member, all concerned are affected. The catastrophe changes everyone’s lifestyle, the victim and the supporters.
In 1985, our family was enjoying a comfortable lifestyle: my wife, Velma, three sons, one daughter, and I. In August, we had planned a Caribbean cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.
Early Detection Needs Immediate Treatment
Before we left, however, my wife noticed a lump on her left breast. She opted to wait until we returned to have it checked. I wasn’t aware until she told me that her primary physician found the tumor to be malignant.
Blood work, doctor visits, and treatments increased as the tumor grew. Months later, Velma had a mastectomy of her left breast. After her operation and recovery, she returned to her job, and our family lifestyle seemed back to normal.
The Dreaded Disease Returns
Early 1986, a similar lump appeared on her right breast. Again, blood work, doctor appointments, scans, etc. increased. Then the inevitable: another mastectomy would be necessary.
Velma was devastated; so were we. Another operation, longer recovery, and this time, she could not return to work. The cancer cells were increasing rapidly and had metastasized. She revisited her oncologist as chemotherapy treatments began. Her primary doctor explained that with each day that passed, her remaining days were decreasing faster.
Velma lost hair gradually. There were numerous sores on her body that we treated at home with salve and bandages. Edema of serous fluid developed in both of her arms. Unfortunately, the fluid would not retract; gradually it entered her lungs.
She was admitted to the hospital for critical care, near her birthday in November, 1986. Christmas Eve, we held a small family gathering in her hospital room. That week, she was transferred to Hospice. New Year’s Day at Hospice, she and I watched all the parades around the country on television. Velma loved the parades.
The next morning, as I prepared to revisit Hospice, the superintendent called and asked me to go immediately to her office before going to Velma’s room, which I did. Velma had passed away during the night. They had also notified our children and each arrived shortly.
Our children and I helped each other cope. Our lifestyles became definitely different. Eventually, three were married, one son became an entrepreneur. In 1992, I found work at a new company in a new city. We went our separate ways, but continued to communicate.
In my new location, I regularly attended singles dances to make friends and meet woman. That’s where I met Judy, my current wife. We dated a few weeks, resided together a few months. In 1997, we eloped and married in Nashville, Tennessee.
Now me? Can’t be!
Early 1998, during an annual physical, my primary physician noticed an abnormality while doing a digital rectal exam. He referred me to an oncologist who verified that my prostate gland had swollen. A subsequent blood check showed that my prostate specific antigen (PSA) had skyrocketed. Yes, it was definitely prostate cancer.
My recourse: a regimen of external beam radiation treatments for about six months. PSA levels went low. Although my cancer had receded, I lost my urethra cutoff function, but gained incontinence.
What next? Metastasis Disease
Blood work to measure my PSA checks continued. Good thing, because in 2005, my PSA levels gradually increased, like inflation. The prostate cancer cells began entering other parts of my body. A Prostascint scan, besides more frequent lab work ensued.
Thereafter, a regimen of hormone therapy was started, and PSA levels plummeted during the two years of injections. Fortunately, I avoided surgery and chemotherapy. However, Lupron, a vaccine of female hormones, had unfavorable after affects. As my testosterone decreased, my lifestyle changed. Erectile dysfunction developed. Unpleasant personality changes became noticeable.
Currently, blood tests continue, but less frequently. PSA readings remain low, but I will never be entirely free of the dreaded disease until my death.
Strange how Cancer had affected both Velma and me. Neither one had any family history of tumors, especially Cancer. We both enjoyed healthy, happy lifestyles, without personal violations. But now, Cancer is a primary concern of our children.