This past week should have been a devastating turn of events for our family. My melanoma is back and it’s Stage IV Cancer.
On Tuesday, I went for my every-six-week scans to see if my last chemo treatments were still doing their job. Turns out, no. There was some growth in my tumors. This is my second recurrence. I know the statistics on stage IV melanoma with multiple recurrences. They’re not pretty. In fact, they’re downright miserable. But for some reason, this new information has not shaken me to the core like it has in the past.
The first time they told me, “You have cancer,” I felt like the ground had opened up and swallowed me whole. I couldn’t eat, sleep, breathe. The first time they told me it had come back, I cried, I got mad, I lost sleep and then cried some more. This second time, nothing. No tears. No lack of sleep. No gut-wrenching fear. I feel a sense of almost excitement to get going on the next plan and do something, anything, that will give this cancer a run for its money. I think I can chalk most of that up to my wonderful doctor. He makes every mountain seem like a hill I can master. Stage IV Cancer? Eh, we can handle that.
Managing Stage IV Cancer
I think I have finally arrived at a place where I accept that this is the hand I was dealt. Suck it up. No one is coming to save you. I can fight the cancer, but I can’t fight the reality of what is. I have cancer. It’s an awful cancer that kills most people in my situation 80 percent of the time. I may not be here to see my children grow up, BUT I’m here now. I can give this bastard every ounce of strength I have and maybe I will still be here in 25 years. Or maybe I can make it long enough to see my kids get to an age where I know that they will be okay. I’m not sure what that age would be, but perhaps that will be what pushes me on. I read something recently that really resonated with me. It was an analogy of life like a raging river. You can scramble to grab the sides and fight the current, or you can let go and float to the middle and ride it wherever it takes you. I’ve decided to ride this ride wherever it takes me. Fear is an ugly monster that steals your time, safety and stability. I’m done letting it take from me anymore.
I’m not trying to fool anyone. I do have fear about my Stage IV Cancer. I have my moments, for sure, but it’s less than it has ever been. I’ve survived so far. What else can possibly happen?
Now I have a couple weeks to prepare myself and my family for this next round of treatment. This time it will be every two weeks for two years. They will probably be putting a port in as well.
Between the port and the frequency of the treatments, I don’t think I’ll be able to get away without giving my son some information this time around. He’s bound to have questions and I’m still not sure how to tackle those. I can have all the courage in the world, but if my son asks me if I’m going to die (which anyone who knows my son knows he will ask) I’m not sure I can keep it together.My fearlessness is great as long as I don’t think about my children. Cancer, treatment, surgery … I can handle whatever is thrown at me. I can’t handle any of those things affecting my children. I just want them to have a simple, happy childhood where those words don’t enter their vocabulary. I want to see my young daughter at an age where she would remember me. I lost a brother when I was 11. I know what death does to a family. I don’t want those things for my kids and, more importantly, I want to be here to protect them from everything else.
I’m bound to get all of this figured out soon! Or at least find a game face that can make everything okay for them.
Here we all go, round 3! Ready or not, Stage IV Cancer, look out.
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